Sunday, 23 April 2017

This Upcoming Week

So you probably saw my week recap earlier. What I realized I forgot to mention is that my calorie intake is on average 1,200 a day. Some days more, some days less. I am 5'1 and pretty small so I should always aim for that amount except on special occasions, of course. For the first time ever, I am not trying to diet. I am just trying to make better choices that include less cheese. I can't go too low or else my body would likely say "Yeah, eff you. Here, break a bone you ungrateful bitch." So while it may look like not a lot of food, it is actually just the perfect amount. Again, I am not a nutritionist and would never recommend anybody to follow exactly what I doing. But definitely follow along and join online. But the diet is totally catered to me so don't take my advice and then hurt yourself and then try and sue me. Please don't sue me. I only have shoes.

I had a Skype date earlier and in a little while I will head to the Film Casino for a meeting what could lead to a very exciting event in July. Afterwards, I will head home and make dinner and then take a bath. It's been mostly a lazy day besides doing hot yoga this morning. I still have to get a couple more exercises in... probably during Pretty Little Liars which is on tonight. Woot! The Kid is a little kvetchy today and just had a little freak out which are always a nightmare. The Husband was at the gym, of course. The only good news is that it was short lived. He's fine now. I am, however, looking for the scotch. I also yelled which is rare and I hate doing it but it happens. I am definitely a lot more permissive than the Husband and I know that I often let things go that I shouldn't. But I hate being shouty but I know that it is sometimes necessary. Maybe I should look for vodka. I don't think we have scotch... No, I will be fine. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

I stumbled across that above gif just now and it is the best thing I have seen on the Internet in a long time. I am feeling a little better. Anyway... Tomorrow I am most likely meeting a friend for an afternoon drink and then meeting another friend for dinner at Naschmarkt. We are going to Li's Cooking because I figure there are some healthy options there. On Tuesday I am meeting a couple of friends in the afternoon at Crossfield's and then I don't have any plans until Saturday which is great! I will most likely do a 5k run on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then do some Hot Yoga on Thursday. I also need to do some meal planning. And I am kind of looking forward to trying out some new recipes. I just wish the weather would warm up because I don't want to make stews. April, you are a hot mess.

Last Friday was a great a parents' night for Autism in Vienna. One mom mentioned her son loves to play basketball but was finding it hard to find a spot. I posted it on Facebook and then remembered that a friend of mine has a brother who is a basketball player. I pm'd her because I figured that she might know some more information about the basketball scene in Wien. As I said earlier, I am 5'1, I do not play the basketball so I wouldn't even know where to start. But my friend and her brother are on it and I am so excited! I hope something transpires because that would be amazing! I now, a couple of recipes because this is such a random post. I am little thrown off by the freak out so forgive me for the randomness.

Here is a recipe that I adore. I tried the coconut flour recipe and it was a disaster. Probably because I didn't read the actual recipe. Oh well! So here is a simple recipe for vegan French toast.

Vegan French Toast:

Grab as many slices of whole wheat bread as you need. In a shallow bowl, pour some vanilla soy milk and cinnamon in and then just dunk the bread for a second. Heat up a non-stick or greased frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Serve with maple syrup. It's AMAHZING.

I have to run to my meeting now! I wish all a great Sunday evening! And stay tuned for more... just more. Toodles!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

End of Week 1 - Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge

I did it! The first week is done! And I stuck to it! If you want to see pictures of food and random things I did this past week, beachy crafts, etc. please check out Instagram @tmspatz. Also, please feel free to join me for the next 4 weeks! I am not a nutritionist, a personal trainer or even an Instagram star so this is not a certified diet thingy. This is just something I custom made for me so don't sue me. Please check out this blog post here so that you understand what the challenge is all about! This recap will include what I ate, what workouts I did and what "Tone it Up" lifestyle things I did. Also, at the end of the post will include how many centimeters and kilos I have (if any) lost this past week. Enjoy! (None of these pictures belong to me... because I don't take random pictures of girls in bikinis. All of these pictures belong to Tone It Up).


Monday morning! Easter Monday morning! It is the first day of the 5 week Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge. I have posted an Instagram picture wearing my adorbs polka dot pjs while holding a bowl of strawberries and blueberries while stating my intention to be seriously creepy and live like the two gals from Tone It Up; Katrina and Karena for the next 5 weeks. I work well under pressure so putting it on the Interwebs is a great motivator. I also am feeling incredibly smug eating fruit! The Kid has been up since 5 a.m. and I need to embrace this. Yaay! He snuggles on the sofa and we watch Dora and I hate Dora but this is the first day of the challenge and I am going to be positive and bubbly! "Just look at that Dora! Rocking that bowl cut like a star! And Boots, man, is Boots a riot." I am dying inside. The Kid looks at me funny.

When the Husband gets up a couple of hours later I exclaim "Good morning honey! How are you!?!?" and don't say "Well, la di dah, look who finally graced us with his presence..." No, I am going to be a delight today. Even if it kills me. The Husband also looks at me funny. Then sniffs my coffee cup.

I am about to go on a 5K run. Yesterday I ran 45 minutes and my thighs are still sore but I figure I can handle a 30 minute run. I could probably handle it a lot better if I ate the head off of that Lindt chocolate bunny staring at me. But no, Imma be strong.

Good run and now having a vegan grilled cheese sandwich. Still hungry but going to stay strong. Kid passes out around 3:30 in the afternoon so the Husband goes to the gym and I do the Tone it Up arm exercises. Surprisingly not so bad so obviously must be doing something wrong. Have a piece of toast with nutritional yeast.

5:30 in the afternoon and I am ravenous. Like angry. Like HANGRY. Since I decided on this challenge yesterday and no stores were open (Austria!!!), we have to order food. We settle on Italian and I end up saying no to pizza because I am a Goddess of self control. I order a penne in a tomato sauce because I figure that is the "healthiest" option at this point. Once this holiday is over, I am totes meal planning. Totes.

Pasta was actually pretty craptastic. So didn't finish it. Yay me. Blergh. In about an hour will do my favourite online yoga session hosted by Ali Kamenova.

B: Strawberries and blueberries
L: Vegan grilled cheese sandwich
S: Toast with a tsp of nutritional yeast
D: Penne in a tomato sauce with a couple of pieces of bread

Workouts: 5k and Tone it Up Arm Exercises and 35 minutes vinyasa yoga

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Upbeat optimism and completed a beach-like chair for the Autism Center


Back to work today! And I actually went to a 7 a.m. hot yoga class. Not sure if that is a Tone It Up suggestion but I do love me some hot yoga... so I will allow it. After a shower, I look at what I can wear. It is freezing out because April is the suckiest month of the year. I want to embrace colours and emulate a California beachy vibe but I also work in an office. I settle on some beachy jewelry and consider tha a compromise. I put on some clothes and head to work.

For breakfast I have some blueberries and a coffee. I now have to figure out what I am going to have for lunch. I scan through the Tone it Up recipes they have on their blog and realize I have to really sit down and figure out my meals. I will mostly wing it for the next couple of days but then go into meal prep.

Tonight is date night with the Husband. It has been a long time since we have had a night out just the two of us. We meet at 5:30 at Motto Am Fluss upstairs. It is gross and rainy outside but perfect in the cafe. I order a glass of rose and act all smug when I order my avocado and egg sandwich hold the meat thankyouverymuch. I explain to the Husband about my Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge. I show him pictures of Karena and Katrina from Tone it Up and he spends the appropriate amount of time for staring at a picture of two women in bikinis: long enough to show interest in what I am talking about but not too long for me to deck him with my sandwich.

After dinner we head home and the Husband brings the Kid to bed and I see that Murder She Wrote is on TV. Even though I am still pretty full from dinner, I get ready to work out my abs. It starts off alright and then it turns into madness. Halfway through the first rep, I want to stop. I can't complete all of the exercises (looking at you Twisted Plank.. or rather SATANIC Plank). The Husband comes in with an ice cream and sits on the sofa as I bitch every few minutes. "How's *ugh* your *blergh* ice cream *ugh*?" I ask, panting in pain. He responds with "Great!" Bastard. 15 minutes later I am done and my stomach is numb which I never knew was possible.

By 10:30 I am ready to pass out. Pretty good day.

B: Blueberries
L: 3 apple cinnamon rice cakes and peanut butter
S: cappuccino
D: Avocado and egg sandwich and a couple glasses of rose wine (Date night at Motto am Fluss)

Workouts: Hot Yoga, 30 minute walk at lunch, Tone it Up stomach exercises

Tone it up Lifestyle: Wore beachy jewelry and didn't order a burger. Also ate well and those girls seem to like rose wine so of course had to have that.


Early morning wake up call! Am I chirpy? No. But I am going to get a run in. This is it. Get out of bed Tova. Think #discipline. Think #newclothes. Think future Instagram selfies! I look through Pinterest to motivate myself and then crawl to the kitchen for coffee. I look outside and wonder when I moved to Siberia... there is motherloving snow. It is snowing. Pre-challenge I would have gone back to bed... but now, this Tova is going to go out there and run a 5K. Nothing can stop her.. well, pneumonia can... but otherwise, nothing can stop her! I get my workout gear on and put on a sweater, and a hat (pink, of course) and head out into the street. It is cold. I want to cry. But within 5 minutes I no longer want cry... I want to die. Surprisingly the run is pretty good and I don't feel as stabby as I usually do when I am running.

After my shower, I head to the kitchen and stare down the huge tub of Designer Whey Protein Powder I bought the day before. I have never ever bought protein powder because I have always had a fear that one scoop and I would turn into Johnny Bravo. When I went to the shop to buy protein powder, I made an educated (not really) guess about which ones were geared towards men. The tubs were black with neon lettering and said things like: MASS! TURBO! GAIN! so those ones were out. I spied one that was a white tub, with pastel font and a picture of a female volleyball player! Yup! That was the one. The Tone it Up girls have a protein power called Perfect Fit. I would have ordered it if they shipped to Vienna so I had to find an alternate. I picked up a chocolate flavoured one and I am looking forward to trying out different recipes with it.

I mix the protein power with water and drink it down. It isn't the worst thing in the world and I wait for my forearms turn into Popeye's.. but they don't. Time will tell.

At work I have an espresso with friends and then at lunchtime take a long walk at lunchtime. My friend S.R. and I brave the elements and it is miserable. But it is nice to get some fresh air (frost bite). For lunch I pick up some glass noodles and cup of soup and eat that at my desk. I have some rice cakes with peanut butter and drink lots of water. So smug.

I get home just before 6 and snuggle with the Kid. I start my dinner which is an English muffin with a couple of Boca Burgers. I was going to pick up a salad but it was snowing too hard and I just wanted to get home. The Kid and I watch cartoons until 8 p.m. when it is time to put him to bed. I can still hear him talking to himself in his bedroom but it is time for me to get a booty and arm workout in. I die. This is not fun. GAH! But I keep telling myself that soon these won't be so hard... especially since I never ever want to do them again. EVER. But I will because this is day 3 of what 35 days? That didn't make me feel any better.

The Kid is still talking in his room but I ignore him and sit on the sofa for about 10 minutes and try and not move. This is total bliss. By the way, am I thin yet?

B: Protein shake and coffee with vanilla soy milk
L: Cup of soup with noodles and 3 apple cinnamon rice cakes with peanut butter
D: English muffin with 2 vegan burgers and a slice of vegan cheese and salsa

Workouts: 5k run (IN THE SNOW), 45 minute lunchtime walk, Malibooty workout, Arm Routine (see above)

Tone it Up Lifestyle: There is absolutely nothing beachy about this weather... unless it is a beach in Alaska. But I tried a protein powder for the first time. If the Tone it Up protein powder called Perfect Fit delivered to Vienna, I totes would have chosen that one. I also bought coconut flour which seems like a Tone it Up thing to do. Now must Pinterest recipes for it.


Early morning start to the day again! Have to be at work early so heading for an early early run. It is 5:45 and I hate everything right now. But what would Katrina and Karena do? WWKKD? They would embrace life. I mean, who wouldn't with those abs? But as I stare out the window, I see the hurricane-like winds. I debate and I debate and I actually talk myself out of a run. So instead of crawling back into bed and declaring defeat, I decide to do the Malibooty and Arm Routine for 15 minutes. Sob.

At work I scan through some meal ideas. I am hoping to have some time soon to meal prep and to come up with some more recipes. In the past my dinner portions have been HUGE and I am trying to change that. Wraps, English muffins, rice paper... these are handy portion control carrier of food things. Yes, great term, Tova. And I need to add more veg to my meals. At lunchtime I take a walk with my friend. It is still fuhreezing outside so I officially hate April. I tell her that having to take pictures of my meals are actually motivating me to eat better. She suggests I take pictures of pizza once in a while so that people know that I am human. I tell her I am perfect. For lunch I have some noodles with soup. And then a couple of cinnamon rice cakes with peanut butter. I feel like I am not eating too much at lunchtime.. in the past I have usually sent myself into a food coma. No more! NO MORE! Smug.

Well... I just looked at the calorie count for peanut butter. What the hell, peanut butter!?! DAMMIT!

I head home because this afternoon the Kid is meeting with his therapist and his two therapy tutors. He will probably be exhausted by the time I get home and will most likely hate that I am talking about him in front of him. ....He is happy to see me and the meeting goes well. They all leave just before 5 and the Kid is still full of energy.

For dinner I make a salad dressing with lemon, olive oil, honey dijon, and balsamic vinegar and some garlic. I pour it over the rucola and then make an omelette with a piece of vegan cheese. I serve it with a toasted English muffin. AMAZING! I decide to take the Kid on a walk around the neighbourhood. It is gross outside and I am sick and tired of this weather. Gah! And I reserve the right to bitch about the heat in the summer.

The Kid watches cartoons and I do one Tone it Up-esque beachy style lifestyle thingy. I complete a long turquoise necklace that I have been working on for a little while. I can't wait to wear it when, you know, it isn't snowing.

I have to wait for the Husband to get home and then I will get a run in. I am hoping to run for 35 minutes.

Well, I run.... I run for just over 30 minutes. I get a private message from a friend asking if I just ran past them. I didn't notice because I was trying not to die. I get home and take a shower and try to stop sweating.

I still have an ab workout to get in And look at that, Kid's in bed and Columbo is about to start! Hurrah!

And bedtime is in 3, 2, 1....

B: Protein shake and 2 coffees (tired)
L: Cup of soup and 3 apple cinnamon rice cakes with peanut butter (dead to me now, peanut butter, dead)
D: English muffin with 2 over easy eggs and one slice of vegan cheese and salad with dressing

Workouts: 5k run, 45 minute lunchtime walk, Malibooty workout, Ab workout, Arm Routine (see above)

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Finishing up a beachy necklace.


I am woken up by the Kid at 5 a.m. I had set my alarm for 5:30 because I had planned to get a run in. Based on the soreness of my body, I decide to postpone the run until tonight. I know that I will hate myself tonight for not going this morning. Instead I do an arm and tush workout and the Kid gives me side eye from the sofa.

For my lifestyle challenge today, I spend some time looking at the inspirational, pretty font quotes that the ladies from Tone it Up sometimes post. I decide to try and make my own. I literally stare at a pink ombre colour thing for a good 20 minutes, trying to think of a quote. This one is taken... And I love it.
I have to great ready for work so I hurriedly type up something and save it to my phone. You can see my work below. Brilliant, right? Don't worry. I will think of an actual quote one of these days. Maybe after I lose my double chin.

I bring the Kid to kindergarten and then head to work. I have a coffee with friends and then at lunch time have some soup and noodles and some apple cinnamon rice cakes (no peanut butter, thank you very much). No time for a lunch time walk today and at 3:30, my work week is over. I meet my friend D.K. for a quick drink and then head over to the Beaver Brewing Company for the Autism in Vienna parent night. I stick to spritzers but yes, my tolerance is way down. I get so caught up in German verb conjugations which butcher for 90 minutes that I don't get a chance to order food. Just before 8, I head back home. The Kid is still awake and we end up watching Burn Notice which still continues to be one of my favourite shows ever. Burn Notice ends and with a deep sigh, I put on my running shoes and head out for a 5K. It goes by quickly probably because I had white wine spritzers fuel me. When I get home, I catch my breath and quickly toast an English muffin which ends up being the best damn English muffin I have ever eaten. I take a shower and then head to bed to read the most inspiring and motivating book ever Born to Run. Seriously, download this book on Kindle. It is out of this world and will make you want to run.

By 11 I am out like a light.

B: Protein shake and 2 coffees (tired)
L: Cup of soup with noodles and 3 apple cinnamon rice cakes
D: Many many spritzers and an English muffin with a little butter

Workouts: 5k run,  Malibooty workout, Ab workout, Arm Routine (see above)

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Created a ridiculous irreverent quote thing.


I wake up at 5 and of course can't fall asleep. I end up chatting over messenger to a friend who is flying. I ask him how he is online and he says "credit card". My mind is blown. Around 6 I sit on the sofa and close my eyes, willing myself to sleep. But of course not. I spy two people playing ping pong in the park and I am guessing they must be drunk. Maybe I am too? The Kid finally crawls out of our bed around 8 and he is snuggly and happy and I drink my coffee, absolutely starving. I toast an English muffin and realize the weekends are the hardest when trying to eat right. I then head to the store and smugly pick up bananas, soy yoghurt and frozen raspberries. I mix them all up with a scoop of chocolate protein powder and I am expecting angels to start singing from the heavens above. Nope, your drunk Aunt Clarissa is singing karaoke at your wedding. Blergh. It isn't the worst but it isn't that amazing either.

I drink it out of a wine glass to try and trick myself into liking it. A little while later I do about 30 minutes of yoga. This time I freestyle it and listen to loungey music, trying to convince myself I am hip and with it. I wish I was listening to Taylor Swift. After yoga, I pick up my weights and do a series of arm exercises at the Kid runs around me, narrowly avoiding being decked in the head by a weight.

For lunch I make a grilled cheese vegan sandwich and the Kid is obsessed with it. Probably saved me about 20 calories. I am definitely tired and definitely feeling the spritzers. Before this challenge, I would have said "Eff it. It's a Saturday. I deserve to melt cheese on cheese." But I decide to be strong and keep it clean. I would say that I am smug but actually I am unhappy. But determined.

After lunch I do a series of tush exercises. The burn burns and I better look like JLo soon or I will be ticked. The Husband heads to the gym and I Google stalk the two women from Tone it Up for inspiration for my next beachy lifestyle thingy. They have such pretty hair. I am literally one little step from printing out their pictures and creating a shrine. Somebody help me. I then decide to look up beachy crafts and get an idea of what I can do tonight.

The Husband gets back and I head to Mariahilferstrasse to Thalia and then M├╝ller for some supplies. I decide to get a blueberry bubble tea because it has been years. I love tapioca. And a little annoyed I couldn't ignore its siren call. I head to the Ring to catch the March for Science and to find the stand to get my cheek swabbed for stem cell testing. There is a little 3 year old boy in need of a match and I hope they find one! A friend wrote me earlier and tells me she will meet me at the stand. Of course I am early. She shows up and we swab ourselves and hope for the best!

I head back home and we decide to order Chinese food because I cannot be assed to cook right now and I wish it was my bed time. I do avoid the crispy beef and order tofu and steamed rice. And of course I cannot resist the fortune cookie. Dammit.

After dinner, I stare down a new purchase. I bit the bullet earlier this week and bought a foam roller. I have heard that these bastardos are painful, that I will cry, that I will beg for mercy. Why am I such a masochist? I gingerly sit on it and think "Meh. This isn't so bad." The Husband watches from the sofa, ready to laugh at me. I start to roll back and forth a couple of times, this is o.k., I do a couple more rolls and SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY LAND JEEBUS CRAP BAG JUNK FISH WHAT THE EVERLOVING?!?!?

Yeah, it hurts. The Husband thinks I am being dramatic so I tell him to give it a whirl. He won't admit it hurts and as a family, we try out the torture machine for the rest of the evening, with CSI Miami playing in the background. By 9, the Kid is asleep and I fall asleep shortly afterwards. Bliss.

B: Coffee with vanilla soy milk, English muffin and a protein banana strawberry smoothie
L: Vegan grilled cheese sandwich
S: Blueberry bubble tea
D: Absolutely no booze today, tofu and rice and a fortune cookie

Workouts: 2 hour walk,  Malibooty workout, Ab workout, Arm Routine (see above), 30 minutes of yoga

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Created a tote bag design with a sharpie. It did not turn out the way I expected so no pictures yet. Gonna work on it some more.


TODAY IS THE DAY! I have showed such self-restraint and have not gone on the scale once! I am absolutely terrified. Not only will I be weighing myself but also measuring. I feel like this is a big moment AND... WAIT FOR IT!! YES! Down 2 kilos (4.4 pounds!)!! I also lost 2 centimeters on my waist and 3 from my hips. I'm not thin, yet, but I am on my way! VICTORY! HUZZAH! YAY! Week 1 down!

So there you have it. This is day 7 and I still have a session of hot yoga ahead of me and of course some Tone it Up exercises. I will eat well today and brag to the Husband that I have lost 2 kilos. We are going to try and bring the Kid to a friend's place around the corner for the first time. I am guessing he will last about 10 minutes but who knows, he might stay for 15. At 5, I have a meeting at the Film Casino and I am going to do my best to not tell the guy there about losing 2 kilos this week.

For a late breakfast I am going to try and make pancakes with coconut flour. I will attempt to pour just a little maple syrup on top.. which is.. for this Canadian... torture. I can easily knock back half a bottle in a sitting. The other day my friend S.R. tried to buy Aunt Jemima's and I looked at her and said "If you love your children.. and yourself... you will not buy that." She bought real Canadian maple syrup. I am proud of her.

When I am back from Hot Yoga, I will tune into the marathon and see if I can spy any of my friends who are participating. I know I will never run a marathon because I like my toe nails, thank you very much, but I am impressed that people do this.

In the evening I will take a bath and give myself a face mask so I am calling that a Tone It Up lifestyle thingy. The bath bomb and face mask are blue so that is totally beachy. Yes.

I can't believe the first week is down (after today, keep me away from pizza because I will call it my "edible medal for losing weight"). Below is a short summary and now I need to gear up for week 2!

B: Coffee with vanilla soy milk
L: Coffee with vanilla soy milk, coconut flour pancakes with syrup
D: English muffin, a Boca burger and a fried egg and salad

Workouts: Hot yoga, Malibooty workout, Ab workout, Arm Routine (see above)

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Lush facemask and Lush bath bomb Big Blue bath.


End of the Week stats:

Centimeters lost
Waist: 2
Hips/tum: 3

Kilos lost: 2

Hours of working out/walking/running/yoga: 12 hours

Thoughts this week:

I have to say that it was actually a pretty amazing week. What I realize is key for me is knowing that working out is non-negotiable. I just have to git er done. I just have to exercise. Eating healthy is definitely difficult and I need to definitely start meal planning. I need to add more veg and fresh fruit next week but I am really happy with the choices I have been making so far. Except for you, peanut butter. Dead to me. I hope you all enjoyed this recap! There will be 4 more of these and I cannot wait! Feel free to ask me any questions or to join me virtually! Enjoy your Sunday and please check out the Tone it Up website and their Instagram for inspiration: they are fab. Toodles!

Note: None of these pictures belong to me. All to Tone it Up!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Hello Friday!

I am officially on day 5 of my Tova Be Toning It Up Challenge. I am doing well but I would be lying if I didn't say it has been hard. This morning I did some exercises and tonight, around 9:00, I will go for another 5k run. I went last night and it was actually a fabulous run despite the Arctic wind. By the end I am usually so kaput that I don't even notice that I have lost fingers to frost bite. I usually do notice that I can't breathe though.

The Kid had a long therapy session yesterday. His consultant lives in Budapest and comes once a month to check his progress with the tutors. She is great and he seemed happy and a little smug. It is genetic. The next month will focus on more learned playing as well as trying out a computer app. He shows no interest in online stuff which is obviously not genetic. I luvs the Interwebs. We are hoping this helps him communicate a little bit better. The idea is to take pictures of things around the apartment and then using the app, he can tell us what he wants. I wonder if there is a way to take a picture of him wanting to kick me in the spleen at 5 a.m. when he crawls into our bed. If they created an app for adults (namely me) there would have to be a picture describing my mood as "I don't know why I am angry today: could be hunger, could be Weltschmerz, could be just the fact that I have no clue why but I will make your life miserable, dear Husband". Yes, there could be a market for this.

After talking to the Kid's therapists and wishing them a great weekend, I made myself a quick and healthiesh dinner. I then decided to take the Kid out for a walk because he was still bouncing off of the walls. It was freezing and windy but he was happy to be out. He even ran a few times: not sure if it was out of fear or for fun. We walked around the neighbourhood for about 45 minutes and then went home to warm up. He had some toast and then watched cartoons. I finished up a little craft project and then when the Husband got home later, I went for a run. It was a great run! A fantastic run! And I am definitely getting faster. Calm your tits, I am not fast, just slightly faster. I will have to add some length to my normal run now and that is exciting and also terrifying. After my run, I took a shower, watched some Columbo and then did my ab exercises which brought out a lot of swearing on my side. Amusement on the Husband's side. Oh the pain!

By 10, I was exhausted and I crawled into bed and dreamed of cheese. Today after work I will meet my dear friend D.K. for a quick drink and then run to the Beaver Brewing Company for the Autism in Vienna Beacon Beach House parent night. I can't stay too long and I am debating if I should eat something there or eat at home. Pros to eating there? Good food. Cons? Good food, many calories. We will see how I feel after a couple of glasses of wine. Tonight I will have to go for another run and face those blasted ab exercises. Otherwise this weekend will be filled with some hot yoga, more running, a Science March (I will attempt to bring the Kid) and on Sunday, a meeting at the Film Casino for a possibly very exciting event in July. Also on Sunday, I will be posting my blog recap of this first week of the Tova Be Toning It Up Challenge. I have been updating it daily so it won't be a short post. Make a cup of coffee, grab a blanket, curl up, read about my struggles. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Next week I will actually be meeting up with more people! Yay! I took a bit of a hiatus (6 days) from going out which pros: less drinking, cons: less drinking, fewer fun stories. I needed to recharge a little and with this terrible weather, all I wanted to do was hibernate. I am sorry, April. It's you, not me. Next year I am going to book a trip to somewhere sunny because you be all kinds of cray cray.

And last story before I bring the Kid to kindergarten, I am very excited about a possible meeting when I am in Ottawa in May. I asked my parents to set up an appointment with a VIP who is familiar with autism in Canada. I am very very excited about this meeting and I promised my mother I would not wear lucite heels, a mini jean skirt and a white t-shirt and black bra. Apparently only Erin Brokovich can be Erin Brokovich. Crushing my dreams, Mother! But thank you, parents for setting it up! It is always great to get a different perspective on autism around the world and it is very important for me to continue to be vocal about this. I am still campaigning for money for the Beacon Beach House so that we can finally open a centre and of course, to continue to spread awareness and hopefully, finally, get some government support. There are a few projects in the works but of course, waiting for e-mails from people in this country is.. well... I don't want to talk about it. But let's just say that frustration plays a big part in it. I love you Austria but let's speed things up. Andale andale! If you haven't figured it out yet, I am incredibly impatient. And that's another thing.. 5 days of fitness and I am not thin yet? WHAT THE HELL? I jest. Kind of. So again, have an amazing weekend! Toodles!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Day 3 of the 5 Week Challenge

I decided to post this picture here for no other reason other than to cheer us all up. It is awful outside today so here is something beachy! You are welcome.

Anyway. Hello Wednesday! I am glad that it is a short week! I hope everybody had a fantastic Easter! As I wrote the other day, I am doing this Tova Be Toning Up 5 Week Challenge. Today is day 3 and even though it is snowing (snowing... in April... snowing!!!) I actually went for a run. Oh the smugness is strong today, my friends. I headed out around 6:30 and even though it was freezing, it ended up being a pretty good run. I got home and the Kid was still asleep (in our bed) so I took a quick shower and then made myself a protein shake.. which I am writing about in my week recap that I will post on Sunday. The Kid finally got out of bed around 8 and without missing a beat, wrapped himself in a blanket and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. He was half asleep and adorable and truly acting like Old Man Spatz which has been his nickname since he was a few months old. After breakfast, I got him dressed and brought him to kindergarten and wiped the sleep out of his eyes and I headed through the Arctic tundra to go to work. I was not waved to. Sigh.

I am not feeling this weather. I would love nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine cup of tea and a good book and hibernate. But hibernate I will not! I know that the weather will get better and that soon I will be pulling out sleeveless dresses so I will continue to kick my butt... and cry. There will be some crying. There is always crying. Last night the Husband and I went on a date night. We haven't had many the past couple of years. Raising a child with special needs definitely adds to marital stress but at the same time, it can unite you. I think we are getting stronger but I would be lying if I said it wasn't sometimes a struggle. I think it is important for us to work hard and to find the time to have date nights.. who else would eat my raw tomatoes? We met at Motto am Fluss and had a really lovely time just relaxing and me talking at him. We got home just before 8 and the Nanny headed home and the Kid decided that he would lie in bed and talk to himself for at least a good two hours. The Husband and I watched Murder She Wrote and I did some Tone it Up exercises. Again, I am amazing. I passed out at 10:30 and all in all, it was a pretty lovely evening. Except for the stomach workout...

Tonight the Husband is out and I have to get another workout in. I will most likely watch an episode of Real Housewives of Toronto and may or may not think of more Tone it Up Lifestyle things I can attempt. The working out, while difficult, isn't the hardest part... the hardest part is to try and figure out what the two Tone It Up women would do... I'm guessing eating a pizza and calling your Office Twin a "little bitch" is not high up on their to-do lists. Speaking of Office Twin, today we went for coffee as well as with a couple of friends (one of which a DEAR FRIEND. S.R. now wants to be referred to as the only Dear Friend from now on and I told her that that is not happening). We soon realized that we were all wearing black except for Office Twin who exclaimed "I look like the leader!" and I said "You look like a minion." It was perfectly delivered until I continued talking... "We look like a covent." And Office Twin stopped and said "What?!"And then I realized my mistake. I meant coven. Yeah, I won't live that one down for a while.

This week, for the most part, will not be too crazy. Tomorrow the Kid's therapist will be coming for a long session so I have to be home by 4. I was originally going to get a hot yoga session in in the morning but I will have to postpone it until the weekend. Instead I will have to go for a run in the evening. I am hoping this arctic blast will have moved on by then because I cannot take another Everest run... in APRIL! On Friday is the Autism in Vienna Beacon Beach House parent evening. I can't stay too long for it but I will be there the first hour and a half. On Saturday is the March for Science and I am also hoping to have a quick meeting with a cinema guy sometime over the weekend. I make that sound exciting but literally, he runs a cinema in Vienna. There is an awesome maybe happening fantastic opportunity coming up in July and I have to see how it can work. Once I know more, I will definitely be writing about it. Other than that, a pretty decent and relaxing week. I hope you all have a fab day and stay warm. I might even end up watching Speed 2 tonight to warm up. And to be able watch a craptastic movie that doesn't require any brain power. Happy Wednesday! Toodles!

P.S. Don't forget to check out Instagram @tmspatz to see what I am doing for the Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Tova Be Toning It Up - A 5 Week Challenge

In case you are visiting Operation Tubetop for the first time, I just want to quickly introduce myself! My name is Tova Marr, I am a Canadian living in Vienna, Austria and I have been writing this blog for over 5 years. Originally this was supposed to be a blog about me losing weight and looking fabulous and I was well on my way. But life got in the way. And then life got hard. Our beautiful son was diagnosed with autism just over 3 years ago. He was kicked out of 2 kindergartens, he lost all of his words, we moved to a new place and life was just so damn difficult. For a good 2 and a half years, we all struggled. I felt lost, so did the Husband and I turned to more food for comfort. But once the sadness lifted, the anger set in and it became clear there was just not enough support for autism in Vienna, Austria. I started a Facebook page called Autism in Vienna, started organizing events, and then just late last year, officially became a not-for-profit organization with a couple of friends. I am now trying to raise money for an actual center which will be named The Beacon Beach House. I work full time and try to do it all. And now I want to do more. So again, if this is your first time visiting the blog, welcome and enjoy the ride. And the gifs.

So, for the long-time readers: you all know how much I love challenges! I did a 30 day vegan challenge, a 30 day yoga challenge and a 30 day no alcohol challenge which I completed in 22 days because I am just that good. So of course I needed a new challenge. I might have a problem. I was thinking about what I could do and then I decided on doing something a little more grander and maybe a little more life changing. The past few weeks I have been definitely working out more. More hot yoga, more running and less stuffing my face and feeling sorry for myself. But I still haven't been giving it my all... And by that, I mean killing myself by going that extra mile. About a year ago I stumbled upon a reality show called Toned Up. It was only on for 1 season but it followed two women: Katrina and Karena who, a few years ago, founded their company Tone it Up.

The show was fun and upbeat and provided tons of body envy as well as a glimpse into a company that seems pretty fantastic. And of course, GIRL POWER! As much as I love shows like the Real Housewives of every major city, I very much enjoy seeing the work side of it. And while working to raise money for the Beacon Beach House is not exactly glamorous, I am definitely having fun along the way... and learning a lot. The show was great and while I didn't sign up for their courses, I have been stalking their Instagram accounts. It's not creepy because social media and all that jazz.

I think that these two are incredibly successful for a few reasons: they update their social media daily, they are gorgeous, they seem like a lot of fun, and you don't feel like you are being sold a magic bullet. You really do have to work hard. In a few days their Bikini Series is starting and if I wasn't watching what I spend so that I can spend, I would have totally signed up. Instead, I will be following their YouTube channel and checking out their website. I have not done their routines yet but today is the day I start. I hope to get their work outs in, to up my cardio and of course try and follow their recipes. I also thought it would be fun to try and embrace their lifestyle as well.

Sure, I don't live in California and I don't get to wear spandex to work, but there are some tweaks I can make to my daily life. There will be times that I won't be able to follow everything but for the next 5 weeks, I am going to make an effort. And I will probably swear a lot. If you want to follow along, check out my Instagram: Tmspatz. There I will be obnoxiously posting about my work outs, what I am eating and how I am trying to follow a Tone it Up lifestyle. Every Sunday I will post a re-cap which I will be writing daily. There you can find more details about the challenge. The good news is that these girls drink wine so there won't be too much crying. If, after the 5 weeks, I see a huge change, I will be signing up to be a lifer of Tone it Up but no matter what happens, I think this might actually be a lot of fun.

While some might think this is a vapid challenge... I can't help but agree. But at the same time, I never said I wasn't vapid, and actually, what is so vapid about about fitness. There is nothing wrong in wanting to better oneself and maybe this is just the push I need. I don't want another summer of trying to find "flattering yet professional mu-mu" on Amazon and I want to be able to look back and know that I gave it my all. Please join me on this challenge if you can! And now I have to go and look up my first work out from the Tone it Up girls. My legs feel like jelly so I might find an arm workout. Woot! Here we go! Tova be Toning it Up Challenge 2017!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Guest Blog Post - Ida Vickers - 4 Tips for a Great Selfie

Good morning everybody! I hope you all had a great Easter Sunday! Yesterday I decided to try a 45 minute run because I am cray cray. I also believe that if I get a few long runs in before the Frauenlauf, I will believe that the actual race is totes easy. I need to believe this or else I will cry at the start line. Is that what it is called? Who knows. Anyway, the run was insane but the smug factor after was epic. After a shower, I got dressed and then the Kid, the Husband and I headed to the in laws for brunch. In the afternoon I met a dear friend for some wine and then headed home to Skype with my parents. After that, we ordered dinner and obviously pizza was the best choice. Dammit. The Husband and I watched Unfaithful (only decent thing on TV) and spent most of it giving each other side eye. It was a pretty good Easter.

So today's blog post is a guest post from the lovely photographer Ida Vickers. She took pictures of me back in January and she did a wonderful job. She didn't have much to work with (me) but the pictures were wonderful. As most of you know, I love a good selfie and one friend even Christened them as a #tofie. So here is Ida's post and please enjoy and definitely tag me next time you take a selfie!

Guest Blog Post: Ida Vickers

If you're an avid reader of Tova's blog, you will have noticed that she is the #selfiequeen and posts quite a few photos of herself....with her phone covering most of her face.

Well, I guess that is artistic liberty! If you want to take a good selfie without a mirror or a phone in your face, here are some tips – from a photographer's perspective.

#1 Look for good light.

Ideally, this means daylight, diffused through a curtain or some other sheer fabric, hitting you square in the face to get rid of all shadows and craggly bits. Every time you post a photo you took at 12:00 noon in July, looking super scary because you have two huge black circles instead of eyes, a photographer cries somewhere.

What's that, you don't usually bring a curtain when you go out for ice cream? Get out of the direct sun into the shadow of a building. Have a play around with the lighting and angle to see what is most flattering.

No daylight? Get up close and comfortable with a lamp and for the love of all that is holy don't use flash on your selfie. It looks horrendous 9 times out of 10.

TL;DR: Harsh light from an odd angle is a no-no.

Bad lighting as demonstrated by Rachael Foster Photography

#2 Chin forward and down.

I probably say this a zillion times every photoshoot – you basically have to tilt your head forward and then extend your chin by channelling your inner turtle.

This is way cheaper and usually less painful than plastic surgery to get rid of that double chin!

Note: If you are already quite thin I would use this with caution. Just a little turtle is sometimes enough. In fact, you should probably never go full turtle. But that is a story for a different day.

TL;DR: Turtle.

#3 Angle is everything.

Please don't take photos up your nostrils, nobody needs to see that. But the other extreme is people taking photos from waaaay up high (Because it's slimming!!!111!) that just look unnatural and will also give you a cramp in your arm. The aim should be for the lens of your phone camera to point at or very slightly above your eyeline (say your eyebrows) and you should be just fine. This will indeed have a slimming effect if done right.

Also, you might not want to shoot straight on. Instead, turn your head slightly, so that only one ear is visible in the photo, to accentuate your jawline.

TL;DR: Don't dislocate your shoulder, and don't shoot yourself straight in the face. Solid advice methinks.

#4 Background.

If you want to have a selfie that is truly 'fire' as the kids say, please watch where you're standing.

In the case of mating dogs or piles of rubbish in the background that should be obvious, but also- try and find a nice background to stand in front of. Unassuming, even-toned and non-neon walls are usually a good idea. And please get out of the bathroom. Please.

TL;DR: No toilet photos.

You'll look your best, though, with a tagline that says "Guys I just donated a million € to Tova's charity!" - only if it is true, of course, as the smug smile on your face will make up for bad light AND mating dogs. But seriously, go donate, Tova is amazeballs.

If you want some shiny prints instead of pixels, and let me worry about the lighting, you are most welcome to book a portrait session with me. I do contemporary portraiture, family photos, boudoir, maternity, and personal branding.

And I promise I will only shoot up your nostrils if I don't like you. xx


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Accounting Meeting, Dinner Out and Day of Marr

Good morning everybody! I hope you are having a fab Saturday morning! I actually got a decent night's sleep so I am feeling pretty well rested which is a rare occurrence. The Kid slept well but did give me a minor heart attack sneaking into our room at 3 a.m. He is currently wrapped up like a burrito on the living room floor. He knows relaxation. Speaking of which, yesterday was the Day of Marr. I have these every few months where I pretty much do very little. Or I do whatever I want to. It isn't complicated to create your very own Day of Marr. It pretty much involves dropping your child off at kindergarten, making sure your life partner goes to work. You make yourself breakfast, then pass out on the sofa for a couple of hours. Then get dressed and walk and shop and buy yourself ice cream and I will talk more about Day of Marr in a bit. The ice cream was delicious, by the way.

On Thursday I had the day off. I went to hot yoga in the morning and then spent most of the morning watching Murder She Wrote. It was nice to relax but I was a little twitchy because I had a meeting in the afternoon. At 1 I picked the Kid up, fed him his second lunch and then at 2, the Mother in Law came over. I headed out with my snazzy pink briefcase for my meeting with the accountant. I am not good at stuff like that; accounting stuff and shit. In fact, my eyes glaze over the minute anybody says anything remotely financial. It is incredible I got a degree in Business and Marketing. Math is one of my greatest enemies... that and broccoli. Since starting this Verein in November, money has started coming in slowly and I need to make sure that everything is above board and incredibly transparent. I had asked a friend for a recommendation for an accountant and he suggested a lovely lady in the 18th district. So with my Elle Woods of briefcases, I made my way to the 18th.

The office is in a converted villa and is pretty lovely. I guess accountants do well? Just after 3, I was called into a conference room and for the next 45 minutes I asked questions. The Husband had also given me a list of questions because he knows that I would have probably spent most of the meeting complimenting her shoes and office. I did compliment her office. I received a ton of great information and I feel a lot better after this meeting. I even texted the Husband after the meeting "Aren't you proud of me for going?!? :)" because I always need praise. After the meeting I headed to Pickwicks to meet a friend for a cocktail. The plan was to have a drink and then head to Da Capo for pizza and wine. She is a dear friend that I work with and we are complete morons when we get together.  We also space these evenings out because otherwise someone would stage an intervention. Last time we went out, her husband spied her through the window walking home. He said it was like watching someone learning how to walk in flippers. We invited Office Twin to join us because we know we can spend most of the evening asking him questions about the dating world and also make fun of him. It's called projection. We had a quick drink and then made our way over to Da Capo. Another friend ended up joining us and we waited for Office Twin. Well, we ordered wine and then waited for Office Twin. Our waiter was absolutely lovely and I accidentally called him a "Little bitch". I was talking about Office Twin being late and when I said those words, I was looking at the waiter. His eyes widened and I apologized and then dropped my knife and you can't take me anywhere. Office Twin finally arrived and we ate pizza and laughed and laughed and drank wine and laughed some more. I think our waiter liked us the most out of all the tables in the restaurant. We were fun. After dinner, now just a party of three, I suggested a nightcap at Ron Con Soda because PARTAY!

I have known the owner for years and the Husband has known him for over 20 years so it is always nice to go there. It happened to be ladies night and we ordered cocktails and just had a fun last drink. By 11 it was time to call it a night and my friend S.R. and I headed to the U-bahn station and Office Twin went on to another party because he doesn't have children or a drinking problem. It was a fantastic night and I am definitely looking forward to the next one in 3-6 months. So this bring us now to Day of Marr. I was exhausted in the morning but surprisingly not dying. I had a green juice and napped and then around 12:30, headed out. I walked to Mariahilferstrasse and first stopped at Lush. I picked up a bath bomb (Big Blue) and a face mask (Don't Look at Me (is the best)) and then headed to Sports Direct. As I mentioned on Instagram and Facebook, I can never leave a sports store without buying something. I spied a cute pair of leggings for hot yoga and a discounted hoodie and a tank top and yaay! Sports gear! I paid for my purchases and then headed to an esoteric store because I wanted to buy some incense. I am not over spiritual. I have my own mantras and my own faith but I just try and be a decent person and to practice gratitude so all in all, my soul is just fine. But walking into these stores, I always feel a little out of sorts. The store was cute and smelled like patchouli. The woman behind the counter was humming along to some type of esoteric music and she smiled and asked me if I needed anything. Feeling like a middle aged Coachella going poseur, I said "incense" and she showed me where the stand was.

After paying for my lavender sticks o' fun, she asked me "You do yoga, don't you?" and I looked down at my Keds and Chanel purse and wondered if my yuppie outfit was what gave it away. I responded with "Yes, I go to Yoga Loft, they are the best." She asked where it was and then she said "Weeeell, if you want to make yoga a daily part of your life, you should try this place out." and she passed me a flyer. I assured her that I was super happy with the place I go to and the owners are super awesome and supportive so I was fine. I was also kind of surprised that there seems to be some kind of yoga mafia happening in Vienna... or a type of Jehovah Witness-like conversion programme. The things I love the most about Yoga Loft are; that it is a beachy theme, the instructors are lovely and not crazy and it truly feels like a place to get strong and to relax. I don't feel like I need to open any chakras because once that happens, I will probably be a hot mess. I am just a-ok with avoiding inner demons by making myself as busy as possible. It's not the healthiest method but it is working!!! What's my next project, apropos? Ah yes, fitness and diet. If you have read this blog for the many years that I have written this blog, you will know that I am constantly trying to lose weight or become rich. A funny thing has been happening these past few months... I am not dieting... but I am starting to lose weight. I am working out, I am eating healthier for the most part and I am drinking less. Something kind of clicked earlier in the year and it is kind of awesome to feel more in control and less of a slave to cupcakes. Do I eat healthy all the time? Hell no! But I am getting there. In the next post, I will post some new recipes and workouts that I am doing and it will be fun, right?!?

So before I end this post, don't forget to check out the March for Science Vienna next Saturday! It is being organized by the same committee that organizes the Science Ball and it is going to be great! Check out Facebook for details. Now, I am not a scientist and I can't even pretend to be one. My one little foray into anything scientific was when I was 9. I had watched Back to the Future and then went to my room and recreated the clock tower and the car and glued string to try and recreate the electricity and then I showed my dad proudly what I had done. I think it was one of those many times he thought to himself... "Well, at least she's kind". So while I might not be the next Bill Nye, I think it is incredibly important to celebrate science! Think of the new forms of Botox they might come up with! I never said I wasn't shallow! Anyway, it is time for me to go and hang out with the Kid. It looks like it will be a shitty weekend weather wise, but I am ok with that. Happy Saturday! Toodles!