Sunday, 21 May 2017

Some Thoughts about the Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge

Good morning everybody! It is Monday morning and I have the whole day free. Tomorrow is my flight to Canada and I am freaking out just a teeny tiny bit because I haven't heard from my Air BnB hosts since I received the confirmation in March. Fingers crossed I don't end up homeless when I arrive. I would not be pleased. I packed too many nice outfits. Speaking of outfits, I have had to pack a lot of different outfits for this trip. Usually I go pretty casual when I am back in Canadaland but I have a few important meetings and of course a wedding to go to so I guess my plaid shirts will have to stay in Vienna.

Yesterday was the end of my 5 week challenge that I called the Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge. It was fun, I lost some weight, but I probably could have kicked my tuckus a little bit harder. I am a masochist, but I did not reach my full potential but I was close. So how did I do after the 5 weeks? Not bad. Not bad at all. I lost a total of 5 kilos (11 pounds), I lost 5 centimeters of my waist (a total of 13 centimeters since New Year's Eve), and I lost 6 centimeters off my hips. I'm not thin, but I am definitely thinner. Some of my clothes are looser, I have a lot more energy, and I am feeling pretty great. Most importantly... a little smug.

Losing weight does not make me a better person. Giving up pizza does not make me a better friend. Working out daily does not make me a better mom or wife. But, and I say but, I am a lot happier which I think contributes to making me a better person. My friend always says "Happy people aren't mean." and she is right. The meanest people are the unhappiest. While I have never really been mean, I know that when I am unhappy, I am not being the best person I can be. My weight doesn't define me but it definitely has been a large part of my life these last few years... especially after the autsim diagnosis. Through this challenge, I learned that I could do a lot if I just put my mind to it. There were days where the thought of heading out for a run was demoralizing but in the end, I did it because I wanted to prove a point to myself. The more I exercised, the easier it became and boy, did I sleep so much better these past 5 weeks.

Sure, there were days of exhaustion, but overall, I had a spring in my step and a bounce in my... I guess.. sports bra? I felt calmer, I felt happier, I felt less lethargic and I think that maybe that contributed to better harmony at home and at work. I felt less kvetchy (don't ask my co-workers though. They probably would disagree. Office Twin texted me last night and I called him a twat so definitely don't ask him.) and more energetic. I guess I was still obnoxious, but in a less Emo way. I made better food choices, I explored healthier alternatives, I embraced fruit. While there were days that were not great eating wise, I didn't once binge and I didn't once throw my arms up in the air and said "Fuck it!" and then annihilate a pizza. This was a big step for me and something I want to continue. Speaking of continuing, I don't think I am done with this challenge. Sure, I won't be able to work out everyday but I don't see what's wrong with aiming to workout 5 times a week. I will eat pizza again but that doesn't have to be a weekly event. It truly is about balance and about making better choices and realizing that the shitty part of adulthood is no longer being able to constantly be hedonistic.

As a child, I literally imagined that adulthood would be this magical time of eating chocolate for breakfast and pizza daily. It was this concept of doing whatever the hell I wanted to do with no consequences. Dear Lord, was I wrong. I want to enjoy life but I need to be held accountable for choices I make. I look forward to the summer ahead and to being healthier and making exercise a big part of my life. I enjoyed these 5 weeks and I don't want to undo all the work I have done. I still have a ways to go but I am more on track than I have been in years. One of the best things about this challenge was getting so many messages from people saying they were now inspired to workout more and that was awesome! Communal suffering is good for the soul. Heh.

So there you have it, another challenge completed. Thanks for following along these past few weeks! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I will now spend the next couple of weeks thinking of another challenge. Yay! I won't be bringing my laptop to Canada so this will be my last blog post until I get back. I will be online but I need to really try and take it easy (hahahaha) on this trip and if I bring my laptop, I know I will be spending hours writing and I just need to take a little break. Boo. I hope you all have a great rest of May and see you all online around June second! Toodles!

End of Week 5 - Tova Be Toning it Up Challenge

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, 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).

I DID IT! 5 WEEKS! Here is the Week 5 Recap. But stay tuned for my final summary in the next post!


The Kid woke up in a mood and I decided to keep him home. It is always hard staying home diet wise because there is like food and stuff around. The Kid seems off for a couple of hours but seems to suddenly perk up. I start to wonder if he played me. In the afternoon, the Nanny comes by for a couple of hours and I decide to go for a walk and buy a couple of things. I buy two adorable baseball tees and some wedged sandals. Summer is on its way! 

I stop for a drink and read my book and then head home. I make tomato soup for dinner and the Kid loves it and makes me proud by using his spoon all by himself. I decide to get a walk in with him and we stop for vegan ice cream. The place is called Veganista and it is amazeballs! We share some of the ice cream (I eat most of it) and then walk home. The Husband is out for dinner so I do some Tone it Up exercises and when the Husband gets home, I go for a great run. It's humid but it so nice not to have to wear a bulky sweater. Actually, I kind of miss the bulky sweater. It hides my shame. I get home, take a shower and then head to bed.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, half a bagel and raspberries
L: 2 scrambled eggs, slice of cheese and half a bagel
S: White wine spritzers
D: Tomato soup and a scoop of vegan ice cream

Workouts: 2 hours of walking, 5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Bought a couple of adorable baseball tees and wedged sandals. Yaaas.


I have to be at work early today so I crawl out of bed at 6. I try and summon up some energy because in just a week, I will be heading to Canada! Yaaay!! I put on my make up, get dressed, drink another cup of coffee, have my shot of apple cider vinegar and head out just after 7. Work isn't super busy and at lunchtime, I take a walk with Office Twin and my friend. We stop at Billa and I pick up a cheese sandwich. At breakfast I had a multi grain roll which I should have resisted.

Around 3:30, my work day is over and I meet my friend D.K. for spritzers for a couple of hours. We catch up and then at 6, I go home and the Kid is in a fantastic mood. I make dinner- leftover Vietnamese chicken spring rolls. And then at 7, the Kid and I go out for a walk. It is a beautiful night and he babbles as we walk around the neighbourhood. We stop for ice cream again and I order a scoop of strawberry shortcake vegan ice cream. Last night I ordered a chocolatey scoop and he wasn't wild about it. Not my son. But the strawberry one seems to be a hit so we alternate bites as we walk back home.

The Husband comes back from watching a film and I put on my running gear. But then I suddenly decide that I am not up for it. GAH! Stupid brain. But I don't beat myself up. I realize that sometimes your body just needs a break. I end up heading to bed shortly afterwards and pass out immediately. I think exhaustion might be hitting me.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, multi grain roll and raspberries
L: Cheese sandwich on a multi grain roll (and a couple of chocolate truffles (shhh.)
S: White wine spritzers
D: 5 small Vietnamese chicken spring rolls and a scoop of vegan ice cream

Workouts: 45 minute lunch time walk, 45 minute walk with the Kid, Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Wooden and shell necklace


I wake up absolutely determined to finish this challenge with a bang. I skipped a workout yesterday and I am disappointed in myself. I decide that I am going to eat super clean the next few days. I don't have to start work until 12 today so I decide to take advantage of a late start and go for a morning run. Wow. It was amazing. I forgot how much I love morning runs. It's an awesome way to start the day. I take a quick shower and then bring the Kid to kindergarten. I stop at the grocery store and load up on salad, raspberries and some halloumi.

I am so gosh darn determined to eat super clean these next few days. I eat some raspberries and then around 10:30 I have a salad with some grilled halloumi. AMAZING! 

At 11:30 I have to head to work and I head out into the sunshine, carrying my raspberries smugly. Originally I was only supposed to work until 8 but then I find out that my shift might go past 10. Argh! I stop for some hummus and pitas and some toffee popcorn because that will be my dinner.

By 10:20 p.m., I am exhausted but I get to go home. I pass out at 11:20.

B: Coffee, shot of apple cider vinegar and raspberries
L: Salad with grilled halloumi
D: Raspberries, salad and some toffee popcorn

Workouts: 5k run, Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: I wore flip flops! Yay! Summer!


Since I am going out tonight, I decide to get a run in in the morning. It feels fab and it is balmy out. I take a shower and then make my way to work. Work isn't so hectic and for lunch, I take a walk with a friend and pick up a cheese sandwich. I am going out in the evening and I have no idea what I am going to have for dinner. 

I am in love with my outfit today, a long tutu skirt and a pink and grey baseball tee and wedged espadrilles. Two different colleagues tell me I look like Carrie Bradshaw. They are my favourite people now. At 4:30, I head to Kettenbr├╝ckengasse and stop at a friend's shop. She sells gorgeous tutu skirts and I am saving up to myself one because they are amazing! I drink a spritzer at the shop and then have to dash because at 5:30, I am meeting friends at wine and deli place in the 5th. A friend has reserved the only two outside tables. I start with a spritzer and then move on to rose wine. I am drinking to quickly and a friend has the foresight to order food. We order cheese and bread and I go a little nutso. Not very Tone it Up, I know. I guess I am in a celebratory mood because the article about the Beacon Beach House came out.

At one point, 2 of our friends who are married (to each other) say that they have to head off for their date night but that we are welcome to come. So we crash it. It was at a new Georgian restaurant near Museums Quartier and I was in a jolly mood and happily switched to sweet Georgian wine. Of course I could not resist the Georgian cheese bread: khachapouri. Ugh. I know, I know. Not great for the challenge. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day!

By 11, I am back home and fall into a deep sleep. A great evening! And thank God I got that morning run in!

B: Coffee, shot of apple cider vinegar and lemon cake (it was for charity and for once, I chose lemon over chocolate so winning)
L: Cheese and veg sandwich
D: Lots of wine and lots of bread and cheese and I don't want to talk about it!

Workouts: 5k run, 45 minute lunchtime walk, Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Summer night spent drinking rose wine. And wearing cute shoes.

I am definitely exhausted when I wake up but I am also incredibly excited! Today is my last day of work for 2 weeks! Yes, I will doing other work, but this is the only job that pays me and I get take a break from that! I get dressed and then go to work. I have a fresh juice and a roll for breakfast (I was feeling delicate) and then I take a lunchtime walk with my friend and pick up a sandwich and granola bar. I watch the clock until 3:30 and then run out of the office with the Breakfast Club ending song in my head. 2 weeks off baby! 

I head to the Film Casino and pick up some posters for the film premier and then head home. The Kid is in a great mood and at 6 the Husband orders Chinese food. I have steamed rice and tofu and a fortune cookie. I am stuffed but at 7:30, I pull on my running gear and go for a short run around the neighbourhood. My stomach isn't feeling great so I end up doing a fast 25 minute run. I get home, take a shower and then we watch Burn Notice while I do some Tone it Up exercises. By 9:30, I am in bed and dead to the world. Yaaas.

B: Coffee, shot of apple cider vinegar, fresh juice and a roll
L: Cheese and veg sandwich and a chocolate granola bar
D: Tofu and steamed rice

Workouts: 4k run, 45 minute lunchtime walk, Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: I wore work-appropriate shorts. One can question if shorts are work appropriate or not. But I am saying that for my office, totes are.

The Kid is still asleep when I get up at 7. The wind is absolutely insane outside. I write some e-mails and then get dressed to head to Stadion. I need to pick up my race gear for the Frauenlauf. It's only 9:30 when I get there and it is already packed. I forgot, Austrians are early risers. I pick up my race number, my bag of swag and then get my t-shirt. I order the medium sized one and now I am suddenly regretting my decision. Might be a little too tight. Gah!

I get home and have an early lunch and the Kid is acting like he is on uppers. The Husband kindly takes him to the park to blow off steam. I am indebted to him. I take a bath and then start on my self tanner. I was going to get a spray tan but the place closed down so now I am going to have to do it myself and this won't end well. 

When they get back, the Husband goes to the gym and I give the Kid a bath. Knowing that he acts like Free Willy every bath time, and I have just applied self tanner, I watch him from the hallway. Good parenting.

Later in the afternoon I meet a dear friend for spritzers since I won't see until after I am back from Canada. I decide to carbo load and order brown bread with cheese at 5. I want to have an early dinner so that when I do my run the next morning, I won't bloat... too much.

I get home around 6:45 and the Husband and the Kid eat dinner, I get some yoga in and then we watch 2 episodes of Southern Charm. Yay! By 10:00, I am in bed, a little nervous about the run tomorrow.

B: Coffee, and shot of apple cider vinegar 
L: scrambled eggs and toast
D: Brown bread with cheese

Workouts: Yoga (saving my legs for tomorrow's race), Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Self tanner. Those Tone it Up girls are always bronzey. I might end up orangey. But A for effort.


Well, I have made it! The last day of the 5 week challenge! I get on the scale and thank the heavens above! Down .5 kilos. But I can't celebrate too long because it is the morning of the Frauenlauf. The first and only time I did the Frauenlauf was 2 years ago and I am curious to see how I will do this time. I put on my gear and look at the downpour outside. Well, shit. The Kid is still asleep when I leave but the Husband dutifully crawls out of bed to wish me luck.

Luckily the rain stops and I make my way to the Stadion. There are a gazillion people and I shiver in the cold. I make my way to "M" starting block (it wasn't until later that I realized I accidentally started in "N") and wait for the starting countdown. And then I am off... and why is everybody sprinting?!?! For the past 5 weeks, I have been running almost every day for at least 30 minutes. Maybe I haven't been going fast enough? I worry that maybe I have been speed walking for the past 5 weeks, but when I reach the first kilometer, I see people starting to walk and I start to feel a little bit better. I keep breathing and try and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and try to stay zen as people elbow me to get by... there a ton of women!

I look at my phone and start to worry about my time. I think I am going too slow and I try and speed up. Finally I reach the 4th kilometer and speed up, happy to note that I am not keeling over yet. I sprint right at the end and internally rejoice! I did it! I pick up my medal and my friend texts me that she is heading to the tent area. She luckily finds me and we do an air hug because sweaty and stuff. I am a little disappointed because I feel like I could have pushed myself more but at the same time, this was a fun run and not the Olympic trials. And we are about to have beer so yay! I text the Husband that I did it and he is proud and then my friend and I spot the first beer line and decide to each get two beers because who needs to wait in anymore lines? We find a free table and benches and cheers ourselves. For the next hour we laugh and talk and we are on a high. A woman approaches our table and gives us brochures for a Kenyan running holiday. I tell her my husband was born in Nairobi and my friend asks her "Did you run today?" and she says "yes". It wasn't until I got home that my friend texts me "That woman with the brochures?!?! She came third!!!" AHAHAHAHA! We are idiots. Oh well.

After our beers and our well deserved buzz, we head home and I take a shower. The Husband is at the park with the Kid and picks up food on his way home. Bless him. Flatbread and falafel. I annihilate the food and then hang out with the Kid. I feel totally fine after this run which means, yay, I am fitter but boo, I could have run faster.

Now it is time to head out quickly to meet a friend. I need to give her a couple of posters of Life, Animated to hang up at work. We will have a quick drink and then I will head home and snuggle with the Kid, pack my bag and of course, once he is in bed watch Pretty Little Liars. And that, my friends, is the end of my 5 week challenge of Tova Be Toning it Up!

B: Coffee, (post-race beer)
L: Falafel and flat bread
D: Steamed dim sum (clearing out the freezer)

Workouts: 5K fun run!

Tone it Up Lifestyle: 5K fun run! I feel like that is a really Tone it Up thing to do. Yes.

End of the Week stats:

Centimeters lost
Waist: 0
Hips/tum: 1

Kilos lost: 0.5

Hours of working out/walking/running/yoga: 11 hours

Well, workout wise, this was a good week. Eating wise, not the best... but I was stressed so there you go. But I did it! I finished the challenge! I won't write too much here because I am saving my thoughts for another post. Hopefully that will be up tomorrow! I think ending the challenge with a fun run is the best possible way to end a challenge. It was an amazing 5 weeks so yay! Stay tuned for the ultimate summary!!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Inching Towards That Holiday

Just two more days of work and then I am off for 2 weeks. I need this time off desperately! I have been feeling a little overwhelmed these past couple of weeks... probably because I am hungry and missing pizza.

Tonight I will be going out with some friends to Schrei and Soehne. I have never been but it is in the hood and these are my hood buddies. The majority of us are Canadian so we are cool and shit. Drinks will be had and I need to be careful and remind myself that I still have one more day of work left after. I am definitely looking forward to an evening out, sitting outside and drinking with good friends. Well deserved I do declare. Speaking of declaring, I finally got to watch the first episode of Southern Charm Savannah. The original one is pretty much the only reality show that the Husband will watch with me and we are so so so behind. We totes need to catch up. I finally watched the Savannah one and it isn't bad. It doesn't have the same, dare I say, charm, as the original one does but it definitely highlights a city that I have loved from afar for years. I just finished reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for like the bazillioneth time so I might have a bit of an obsession. One day I will visit Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans. All on the bucket list. Anyway, the show was fine and I am glad I have something entertaining to watch again. The Housewives shows just got too mean. I don't like mean.

And coincidentally, speaking of Southern Charm, a friend of mine was reading Hello magazine the other day. She came into my office and she was like "Do you know Southern Belle?" and I was confused for a second and then I said "Do you mean Southern Charm? I LOVE IT!"and she responded with "Whatever. There's a woman from the show interviewed in Hello and it was like seeing an article about you." And my eyes lit up and I clapped my hands and said "Patricia?" and she shrugged and said "I think so". She left the magazine on my desk yesterday and scribbled across the top of the article is "Is that you?!?." and then she circled a quote that read "Sometimes I think that in this country, my generation are the last ones to really have class." and wrote "Totally you". Haha. No, I am not that bad. But I do love me some Patricia on the show. She brings a butler to parties to make her martinis. AMAZING!

Anyway... moving on.. Yesterday I was supposed to work until about 8 but I found out that I was expected to stay longer. It sometimes happens and it should be expected and this is what one of my friends was saying to me as I was mini-ranting and I was like "I AM ALLOWED TO FEEL INCONVENIENCED!" Heh. She understood. Sometimes we all just need a little rant. I ended up staying until almost 10:30 which is my normal bed time. I got home around 11, washed my face and put on my pjs and tried to stay awake to read all the things on the Internet. I was able to spend a little time on Pinterest which brings me to another little story. Now, I love Pinterest. Adore it. It's a free magazine of pictures without the ads. And helpful Pinterest likes to send me messages, telling me that I might be interested in some other pins. Well, yesterday, the title of their message was "Hi, Tova! We found new Serial Killers and Celebrity dresses Pins for you!" and I was like what? Serial killers? When did I ever pin that? Thank God I am not on a dating app. They would apparently pair me up with Bob who likes basements and collects molars. Get it together, Pinterest!
And my last little story of the day, I am in the newspaper again! It never gets old. I've been lucky enough to be featured in the New York Post (article about maternity leave in Europe and sexism), the Salzburger Nachrichten (about being a Canadian in Austria), the Science Ball magazine, the Vienna Wuerstelstand (regarding autism), I wrote an article for XOJane about trying to open a center here, in the Wiener Bezirkszeitung about being Canadian (with a sidebar about the Beacon Beach House), and today, an article also in the Wiener Bezirkszeitung came out about my plans to build the center. This is great publicity for Autism in Vienna. Now I just need a several page spread in Hello Magazine, I have the perfect tunic dress for it. In all seriousness, it is all very surreal but I feel incredibly lucky to be able to get so much press. Onwards and upwards and all that jazz!

I wish you all a fab day still. I cannot wait to head out in the afternoon. I am first stopping at a store on Kettenbruckengasse around 5:00 to check out some beautiful tutus a friend sells and then will head to Schrei and Soehne for drinky drinks. Fingers crossed they have rose wine. Happy Thursday! Toodles!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Eurovision Song Contest and Mother's Day

Hello Tuesday! Yesterday I stayed home with the Kid. He slept over 11 hours and then woke up crying and yelling. We assume his stomach was hurting him and I made the executive Mommy decision to keep him home. The Husband was sure that he was fine but I was all Sally Fields and clutched him to my chest. Yeah, I think I got played. By 11 he was happy and bouncing around. Well done, Kiddo, well done. The Nanny and therapy student came in the afternoon so that meant I had a couple of hours to kill. I bought myself some shoes and then stopped for a drink at the shady bar near my place. I read more of the Great Gatsby and then headed home. Of course the Kid was in an amazing mood. I made him dinner and then, since he was full of energy, I decided to take him for a walk. We even stopped at the vegan ice cream shop and he was amazingly patient, waiting for us to get our scoops.

He had a little bit of mine but lost interest so I had to eat most of it. Thanks for helping me diet, kiddo. It was beautifully balmy out and such a great way to spend a warm evening. Totes going to do this more often. We got back home around 7:30 and I put him in his pjs and waited for the Husband to get home. Once he was home, I headed out for a 5k run and I almost ended up passing out at the last hill because a woman was trying to overtake me and I was having none of it. I don't know why I suddenly wanted to be faster, I'm usually not competitive... but there was something about her that made me want to beat her running up hill. I almost lost a lung by the end. Serves me right.

This past weekend was actually pretty lovely. Friday afternoon was spent on a rooftop terrace, Saturday involved feeding a cat and buying dim sum. On Saturday night was Eurovision and we had awesome last minute plans transpire! A couple of friends came by around 8:30 and we ate and drank and the Kid was absolutely smitten with the two guys. After dinner, we sat on the sofas and watched the corniness that is Eurovision and laughed and talked. The Kid started to get grumpy and we told him it was time for bed. Making a break for it, he snuggled in between our two guests... obviously declaring SANCTUARY! Sorry, Kiddo. Bedtime. Once the Husband wrestled him into bed (where he passed out immediately), we were all fully engaged in the show. I adore Eurovision Song Contest when I was able to cover it with a press pass 2 years ago, I thought my time had come. I guess I thought this would be a spring board into something else. I was wrong, but it was an incredible experience and something I will always treasure. This year was definitely tamer than other years.. I guess more countries are playing it safe. I adored Croatia: part Opera part Disney theme song. Romania was totally poppy and fun.. except she forgot to wear pants. In the end Portugal won, narrowly defeating the 17 year old Bulgarian. The Portuguese song was pretty and something you would expect to hear while sitting in a wine bar on a cobblestone street. We all laughed while watching the voting because the Portuguese guy did not look like he actually wanted to win. I think he probably went into this because he just wanted to get laid. Whoops.

Just before 2, our guests headed home and the Husband and I did the dishes. We were both amazed we had made it through the whole show. I guess great company helps! The next morning the Kiddo did not sleep in and at 6:40, he came charging into the bedroom, accidentally kicking me in the kidneys. I got out of bed and made a cup of coffee and then sat down on the sofa. A couple minutes later, the Kid came in carrying a Swarovski bag. He kind of threw it at me but yay! he followed instructions! I received a beautiful necklace and a lovely card, and the Husband printed out part of a diary he started keeping when the Kid was born. It was such an awesome surprise and I was so so touched. A little later I got dressed, went to feed the cat and then the Husband, the Kid and I headed to the In Laws for brunch. After a couple of hours, we headed back home and I spent the majority of the afternoon lying down on the sofa and doing very little. Total bliss. The Husband even took the Kid to the playground for a while. The perfect Mother's Day for this mom!

As I mentioned about a bazillion times, I adore the Great Gatsby. So on Sunday night, while I was lying in bed, and scrolling through Pinterest, I decided that for my 40th birthday, I want a huge Gatsby bash. That gives me just under 4 years to plan which should be enough. I mean, who knows what will be happening in 4 years but I have a sneaking suspicion that things are going to be amazing! Life continues to be absolutely crazy. I have a few e-mails to send this evening and over the next few days. I am looking to set up a few different events for Autism in Vienna for the summer and of course, write another open letter. I would be writing the government at this point but they seem a little busy watching their parties implode. I will wait a couple of weeks. Hopefully my two very important meetings in Ottawa will help show that the Canadian government does show an interest in autism support. A sort of "Why can't you be more like your sister?" situation. I hope you all have a fab day! Toodles!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

End of Week 4 - Tova be Toning it Up Challenge

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, 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).

Well, week 4 is done! Hard to believe that I have been doing this for about a month! I really thought that this week I would work even harder. I worked... but not as hard as I wish I could have worked. It was an exhausting week and I ended up hurting my neck. I am so going to kick my own ass for real this time when week 5 starts. So how did I do? Check it out!


Well hello new week! Hello week 4! I am trying to stay incredibly motivated for this week. I was good last week but really not as good as I could have been. I am going to be adding some new exercises, better eating and keeping myself more in check! Waking up this morning was a bit of a challenge. The Kid crawled into our bed and fell asleep again and he looked so incredibly comfortable and cozy but I had to get out of bed. I guess I understand cat owners, now. Curses. Stupid Monday mornings!

I put on my robe and go into the living room. I decide to get my arm exercises in because I know that I won't get home until later tonight and I still will have to get a run in as well as my tush and stomach exercises. I am done after about 10 minutes and then I go to the kitchen to make myself breakfast and coffee. On Sunday I made those protein muffins and I have decided to have one every morning for breakfast this week. I take one out of the fridge, take a handful of blueberries and raspberries and add it all to a small plate. It has to look Instagrammy perfect. I also decide to start having apple cider vinegar shots too. The girls from Tone it Up take one every morning so when one Internet stalks, one must do the same. I add a shot of apple cider vinegar to a small glass of pineapple and coconut juice, make an espresso, and bring my breakfast to the living room. Wow. The smug is strong this morning.

The Kid wakes up and I get ready for work. I take him to kindergarten and then I go to work. I even remembered to bring my jar of salad I prepped the day before. It is a jar of corn, sliced carrots, one piece of cheese and a couple of different types of lettuce. At lunchtime I buy salad dressing, croutons (I add a small handful because I am human) add them both to the salad and shake a shake a shake a... and you know what? Amazing! I guess I was starving so even cardboard would have tasted wonderful. But I am proud of myself for having had a salad for lunch. Going to just go ahead and pat myself on the back. Pat. Pat.

After work I head to Cafe Prueckel to meet a friend for a drink. We haven't caught up in ages and I have some time to kill before my dinner out. I order a glass of wine, my friend shows up and we have an awesome time. At 6:45, we pay and then I make my way over to an Italian restaurant called Xpedit. A type of impromptu dinner club started last month and our aim is to try out different restaurants in Vienna. Last time we had Korean, this time it is Italian. I scan the menu, order a glass of merlot and decide on the rigatoni in a red pepper sauce. I also order bread because it says homemade and I am ravenous. The pasta is out of this world and I unfortunately finish my whole damn plate. We talk, eat and then I have to head home in the rain because I still have to get a 5k run in.

The Kid is in bed and the Husband is on the sofa and I pull on my running clothes and head out into the night. These are the hardest runs. I get home, take a shower and then crawl into bed.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, protein muffin and a handful of berries
L: Salad in a jar (this was amazing)
S: White wine spritzers
D: Red wine and rigatoni and some bread

Workouts: 5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Apple cider vinegar with some pineapple and coconut juice. Something I never thought I would have.


I have to be at work by 7:30 so getting a workout in in the morning is impossible. Also dragging myself out of bed is almost impossible. I get dressed, make my shot and eat my muffin and drink a triple espresso. I AM TIRED! I head to work and for most of the day, I try to not fall asleep at my desk. A night out plus a late run plus an early rise... I'm not great at math but even I know correlation when I see it. At lunch I have my salad in a jar (so happy I had the foresight to do this) and then the end of the work day finally arrives. I meet a friend for a drink and then I head home to the Kid. The Husband is out watching a movie so I make dinner and the Kid and I hang out.

I decide to make my hair a little more sun kissed and add some darker dye. Now I look like I am poor. Oh well. The Husband gets home around 8:30 and I get changed and head out for a 6k run. It is a fabulous run and I feel so much more awake afterwards and yet still exhausted. I take a shower, do some exercises and then pass out just before 11.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, protein muffin and a handful of berries
L: Salad in a jar
S: 2 glasses of red wine
D: Bagel and scrambled eggs and veg.

Workouts: 6k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Make my hair more sun kissed because the last time, the brown was too light. I'm not sure that I did the right thing.


It's another struggle to get up and get ready. I think this week is kind of kicking my ass. I get to work and have a multigrain roll and an espresso. I didn't have time to make my salad in a jar and I am bummed at myself. For lunch I go on a great lunch time walk with a friend. We stop at the grocery store and I pick some multigrain bread and some blueberries. The day drags on and then at 5:15 I head home and hang out with the Kid. I make myself a bagel with scrambled eggs and then have some toast and I am a little disappointed in not having eaten better today. The Husband gets home at 6:30 and I keep saying I will go for a run. I sit in my workout clothes and snuggle with the Kid and try to build up the energy to get a run in. A good hour passes until I finally sigh deeply, put on my running shoes and then head out for a run. And in the end, it turns out to be a great run!

I take a shower and then start my Tone it Up exercises. How do these two ladies do it? I guess they don't have office jobs and a kid and then incessant need to read celebrity gossip? I fall asleep, vowing to meal plan better the next couple of days. 

B: Coffee, apple cider vinegar shot and multigrain roll
L: Multigrain roll and blueberries
D: Bagel and scrambled eggs

Workouts: 45 minute lunchtime walk, 5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Yeah. This didn't happen today.


I get up out of bed at 6:15 and then immediately have to sit back down. My neck is killing me. I must have pulled a muscle in my sleep. This isn't good. I can't turn my head left. I take a painkiller and wonder what I have done to myself? I gingerly get dressed and carefully brush my hair and put on make up. Gah!

I go to work and immediately get mocked for only being able to turn right. I also discover that I always walk on the right of people. It's bizarre. My friend and I have to keep switching spots as we are walking because my full body turns are freaking her out. We go for coffee and I pick up a roll (dammit!). At lunch time we walk, I buy a roll and raspberries and my neck is still a mess.

At 4:30 I head home because the Kid's therapist is in town and meeting with his two aides. We talk until about 5:30 and then go to the Beaver Brewing Company for the therapy networking night. I order a glass of white wine and end up ordering the crispy chicken strips. Not the healthiest but the good news is that I end up avoiding most of the fries so that is a plus. My neck is still jacked so I have to keep full body turning to talk to someone on my left. She tells me an outrageous story and I keep hurting my neck because I get outraged through out. Ouch.

I stay longer than I had planned and leave at 8:45. I get home, tell the Husband the outrageous story and then gear myself up for a run. The run is fabulous even though I have to keep my head very very straight. I decide not to do the Tone It Up exercises and then lather myself in Bengay. I smell like a lifesaver. I pass out just after 11.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, multi grain roll
L: multi grain roll and raspberries
D: Crispy chicken strips and some white wine

Workouts: 45 minute lunchtime walk, 5k run 

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Well, in their one season of Toned Up, their reality show, the Katrina girl has a hurt neck so there you go...


TGIF! To be honest, this week has kicked my ass. I am still getting workouts in so that is awesome... but between the exhaustion and the pulled muscle in my neck, it has been tough. But I am proud of myself for not having thrown the towel in. I have come so far and even though I didn't drop a lot of weight last week, I know that in the long term, I will feel a million times better. I get ready for work, my neck is a little bit better, and then take the Kid to work.

I go for coffee with Office Twin and my friend and we cackle through out. I have a roll (no rolls next week) and then we get to work. At lunch time my friend and I take a walk and I pick up a sandwich and some raspberries and then it is the end of the work week and I run out of the building. I have some time to kill so I head to a pretty bookstore and pick up a present for one of my nieces. I then make my way to the Grand Ferdinand Hotel which I wrote about yesterday. It is an amazing place and I start with a cosmo and then switch over to spritzers. At 7:30 we leave heaven and I head home to watch Burn Notice, eat a quick couscous salad (recipe coming soon) and then afterwards, go for a run and then do some exercises and then pass out after my shower.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, multi grain roll
L: Cheese sandwich and raspberries
S: Half a chocolate bar at work (it's Friday!) then a cosmo and a couple of spritzers
D: Couscous salad (quick and easy and totes making this again soon)

Workouts: 45 minute lunchtime walk, 5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: I spent the afternoon on a rooftop terrace with a pool. That's pretty Tone it Up fab, thank you very much.


Saturday morning and I actually sleep in until 7:30. New record! The Kid woke up a few times during the night so he ends up sleeping until 10:30 which is his new record. The Husband I discover that Baywatch is on and that is like the most exciting thing that has happened in a long time to us. We lie on the sofas and laugh at the 90s fashions and then feel old. The Kid finally emerges and we switch to cartoons. I head out to a friend's place to feed her cat and then go to the best Chinese grocery store in Vienna: Lily Markt. I pick up so much frozen dim sum and text my friend who is coming over for dinner for Eurovision "Come hungry. I bought enough dim sum to feed the Joy Luck Club." By the way, the Joy Luck Club is an amazing film. Don't watch it hungry. I go home and spend time with the Kid. He is a little grumpy and while I was bummed to not go to a bbq I was invited to, I realized I needed to spend some more one on one time with the Kid.

I set the table and then around 6, go for a run. I get back, shower, do some exercises and then start dinner. Our friends show up just after 8:30, we drink and we eat and then we watch Eurovision. It was a fab evening which I will write about more in the next blog post. The Husband and I finally fall asleep at 2 and zzzzzz.

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar,
L: Bagel sandwich with cheese and lettuce and raspberries
D: Rose and way too much dim sum. Too much.

Workouts: 5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: We watched Baywatch. It's on a beach.


The Kid does not sleep in today... on Mother's Day. Instead he is up at 6:40 and the Husband and I are exhausted. I actually don't step on the scale because I made a decision to weigh and measure myself the day before because I knew I would be having a late dinner and I didn't want to be bummed out. I receive a gorgeous Swarovski necklace and a beautiful card and something else (which I will of course write about in my next blog). At 9:30 I go to my friend's place to feed her cat and then I pick up flowers for the Husband to give to his mother. I am a good wife. I go back home and then Kid is dressed in a little suit and ADORABLE! We make our way to the In Laws and have brunch. After a couple of hours, we go back home and I even end up sleeping for 30 minutes. I decide to reheat a couple of bbq pork buns (it's Mother's Day, it's my DAY!) and now I am sitting on the sofa, finishing up this blog post.

I plan to get a run in around 7 and I am not sure what I will have for dinner. There is some leftover sticky rice so I might heat that up. I also will do a lifestyle craft soon (still undecided) and then the Kid will go to bed and we will watch Pretty Little Liars. So there you have it, end of week 4! See below for stats!

B: Coffee, small glass of coconut and pineapple juice with a shot of apple cider vinegar, croissant and fruit and hummus
L: A couple of bbq pork buns
D: Sticky rice

Workouts: 6.5k run and Tone it Up Arm and Tush Exercises and stomach exercises

Tone it Up Lifestyle: Some type of beachy craft!

End of the Week stats:

Centimeters lost
Waist: 1
Hips/tum: 1

Kilos lost: 0.5

Hours of working out/walking/running/yoga: 9 hours and 45 minutes

So... This was not exactly the best week but at least I still lost a little. It is total cause and effect and it is obvious. I have one week left of this challenge so it is really go time! Better eating, more exercise, and definitely more lifestyle crafts and things! I am going to work to the max this week (I said that last week but the pressure is definitely on. I work well under pressure!). More fruit, more veg, less bread, more ass kicking! I can't believe that for the most part, I have stuck to this challenge workout wise. Yes, I didn't eat as well as I could have, but that will change this week and also, I haven't succumbed to pizza that is HUGE! It is time for me to start a craft and the Husband will take the Kid to the playground. I hope you all have a great Sunday still and wish me luck for week 5! Game on!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Dis and Dat

Hello Saturday! I am almost at the end of week 4 of the 5 week challenge. This week was busy... not as busy as last week but still pretty crazy. I stuck to the plan but definitely ate and drank more than I had originally planned. But that's o.k. life is for living. It is Saturday morning, the Kid slept in (he woke up at 2 a.m. and had a 1 kid party in his room) and now he is a little grumpy. I am supposed to go to a bbq this afternoon but sadly I might not be able to depending on his mood. So what's new? A couple of things. Walk with me.

On Monday I had a great evening out and Tuesday and Wednesday were low-key evenings at home. On Wednesday I did have a phone interview in German for a Vienna newspaper and that caused me to sweat bullets. I am o.k. talking in person in German but talking on the phone is a different matter. I can't see their reaction of disgust when I butcher verbs but then at least I can change routes mid conjugation. Ugh. The woman was so nice and patient and I hope I didn't come across as a complete idiot. On Thursday I had to get home a little earlier because the Kid's therapist was in town and working with his two aides. I caught the tail end of the session and it was absolutely incredible to see how engaged he was. It is really exciting to see his development! After the session, the therapist and I headed to Beaver Brewing Company for the therapy networking night. It was a great night with wonderful and dedicated specialists. I did hear some terrible stories sadly and I heard about someone taking advantage of families with children with special needs. That's the lowest of the low. I hope to write up a post soon for the Autism in Vienna Beacon Beach House page about parents always asking for qualifications and references. Not being qualified and trained can cause terrible damage to a child. So that was a bummer to hear about. But all in all, it was a great night!

Speaking of the Beacon Beach House, I am now looking for a volunteer for the summer. Ideally a teenager looking to apply for universities or looking for a volunteer opportunity. I need someone who can speak German, help with website content, send e-mails and work on social media. Literally my dream job. I can't pay but I can provide a letter of recommendation. So if you know of a teenager available 6-8 hours a week who would be interested. Let me know. I am an awesome boss! At least I think so...On Friday after work, I met up with a friend I haven't seen in a couple of months. She suggested we meet at the rooftop of the Grand Ferdinand Hotel. I didn't even know they had a rooftop and she had special access so that tapped into my internal snob. And external snob. We met at 5 and took the elevator to the top and stepped into a gorgeous restaurant with an amazing view. There was a small pool outside and we grabbed two lounge chairs. I forgot how to get into a lounge chair and in heels so that took me a few minutes to navigate. Like a duck trying to do ballet. She ordered a martini and I ordered a cosmo and for a couple of hours we caught up and I loved it so very very much. I so need to have dinner there soon. Obsessed. I headed home, watched Burn Notice with the Husband and then headed out for a run. I was totes not motivated but the Husband said "You can do it." which was just what I needed to hear and off I went. It was a great run, I came home and took a shower and then fell into a deep sleep. Only woke up a couple of times because of the Kid's rave party but other than that... A good sleep.

This morning the Husband and I have been watching Baywatch and OMG I forgot how cheesetastic this show is. They showed the Malibu Beach High School and I don't remember ever seeing any of these types of people at school. One girl was wearing a bra in a classroom. Oh 90s how I miss you. I will be heading out soon to feed a friend's cat. She is out of town for the weekend so I said I would drop by and pet her cat. Afterwards I will pick up Dim Sum for tonight. Yesterday I got a pm from friends saying that they were in town and asking what I was up to. I said that Saturday night the Husband and I were planning on sitting on the couch and watching Eurovision (I had been invited to a lovely friend's place but I had to say no since I promised the Husband to finally watch it with him this year) and I asked if they wanted to come by to watch it too. They are on board so tonight I will make Dim Sum, break out the wine and beers and it should be a blast. I love simple last minute plans that involve me wearing yoga pants!

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. We are going to the In Laws' and then in the afternoon I will get a hot yoga session in. I will also post my Tova Be Toning It Up Challenge week 4 recap. We will see how I did. I am not expecting a huge drop in weight but I know that I have been doing really well and that is all that matters. I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday! And that you have access to a channel that shows the Eurovision Song Contest because it is the best show of the year! Toodles!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Tova's Guide to the Viennese Coffee House Culture

It is no secret that I adore this city. It is a great town to live in and after almost a total of 17 years, I still speak the language terribly. My biggest complaint is how autism support is handled but besides that one major problem, I do love living here. There are a lot of complaints that people have when they first move here: people seem rude, you can't buy baking soda or food colouring, and shops are closed on Sundays. But over time you learn to live with most of the above. The customer service is renowned for its surliness... especially in the famous coffee houses around the city. I have lived here so long that I don't even notice it anymore. The waiter would have to call me fat for it to even register... I am totally serious. You need to scratch the surface to really appreciate the dry and acerbic humor the waiters throw at you. They like you if they act like complete dicks while cracking a joke.

Vienna and its coffee houses are like wine and cheese. They must go together. There have been countless books and articles written about coffee houses and their influence on 20th and even 21st century politics. But I bet none of them used the word "dicks", so there you go. There are so many places to go to in Vienna and I have been to most of the major ones but of course I have a few favourites. Just like parents of multiple kids.

So here is my guide to getting the most of your Viennese coffee house experience:

Never ever go when you need to be somewhere in 20 minutes. This is not Starbucks. This is not a place to get a quick shot of caffeine and then dash. The amazing thing about Vienna coffee houses is that you can pretty much spend your whole damn afternoon there and nobody will care. If you go to a restaurant or coffee house, there will be reserved signs for 7 p.m. when it is only 1 in the afternoon. This isn't stopping you from taking a seat there, but it is politely telling you that you have to be gone within the next 6 hours. Waiters in Vienna make living wages so they aren't too concerned about losing out on a 1 euro tip. Sit, stay a while. (Not like below though, this isn't Central Perk)

There are lots of variations of coffee in Vienna. It kind of became a big deal when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the city in the 1500's. When they retreated, they left a lot of awesome coffee and stuff and thus caffeine was suddenly the it girl. The most common types of coffee are melange, verlaengerter, kleiner Brauner and a cafe Latte. I usually order a melange because it is the easiest to pronounce. Actually, I usually order a glass of wine because I am the boss of me. The most common trait of Vienna coffee houses is how they serve your coffee: always on a silver tray with a teeny tiny glass of water (is this a glass for ants?). While coffee is the main show, there are some strong supporting actors. You can always get sausages with a roll and mustard. There are cakes (creamy cakes, so much cream). And sometimes you can even get a salad (potato is a vegetable here). And jackpot if they serve goulasch and schnitzel. They might bring a basket of bread but they charge extra for that.

Listen the waiter isn't there to be your best friend. He should bring you what you ordered and refrain from kicking you in the shins, but otherwise, don't expect a hearty and happy "Hi, my name is Franz and I will be your waiter today!" Usually you will walk in, search for a place to sit (show no mercy, that 90 year old will fight you), and then wait for them to come by. This might take a while but I warned you not to come if you are in a rush. They won't really greet with more than a "Bitte." which is one of the most versatile words in the German language. This is then your cue to order what you want. Don't faff around. Get to it, hop hop. Surprisingly your order should arrive within a couple of minutes and no, Franz will not be coming by to ask you "How is everything? Can I get you some more ice water?" You are on your own, my friend. Sit back, drink your drink and grab one of those newspapers that they have attached to huge bamboo newspaper holders. You will look authentic then. Just don't whack someone on the head accidentally (June, 2007, I don't want to talk about it). Viennese coffee house waiters are famous. From their tuxedos and their surly attitude, to their barely contained disgust when you ask for more tap water or even for the bill... but they truly embody the Viennese comedic style called Schmaeh. This is a combination of sarcasm and melancholy and well, it is hard to describe but you will know it when you see it and if you are new in town, you will be tempted to write on Trip Advisor about how damn rude your waiter was.

You have had your coffee, your cake, your sausages, your wine and you have lost feeling in your legs and it is time for your to go... Now the fun starts. Trying to get the damn bill. 9 out of 10 times you will have to ask for it a couple of times. Waiters will zoom past you at 100 miles an hour and you must yell out "Zahlen bitte!" or you will be proverbial coffee house roadkill. You aren't being rude, you are just getting their attention. Sometimes they will bring you the bill immediately, other times it can take forever. Either it is printed out or they take out their pads and write down what you ate, calculating like a modern day Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. Large tips aren't part of the culture and the rule of thumb is to kind of round up. Your bill is 18.50, give them 20. 9.20, give them 10. And you tip them immediately and not leave it on the table. This ensures that they won't trip you as you walk out of the coffee house. I spent the first couple of years leaving extra money on the table because I couldn't believe, as a Canadian, how little the Husband was tipping. It took a while for me to adjust.

So that is a pretty general overview of how to experience a Viennese coffee house. Below are a list of the most famous coffee houses in the city.

Cafe Central: this place is always packed. It is gorgeous but it is touristy. Lenin and Hitler hung out here. So did Tova... whenever she can find a damn seat. Definitely worth a visit.

Cafe Schwarzenberg: This is actually one of my favourite traditional coffee houses. They also have great outdoor seating. I always like to take out of town guests here.

Cafe Sperl: Located near the big shopping street, this is definitely an institution. I have only been there once but I liked it. I liked their wine, too.

Cafe Hawelka: This is the least grand of coffee houses but it is neat. And long time readers will know about my previous stalking. The furniture is original and this place has an interesting post-war history.

Cafe Prueckel: I was there just this week. It is bright and airy and has interesting 70s decor that somehow works. Definitely worth a visit.

Cafe Demel: I am not the biggest fan of this place because it is always packed but it is fabulous. If you love pastries, this is the place to go. And you can see the bakers at work. Totes want a birthday cake from Demel at some point.

Sacher Hotel Cafe: There are always lines of tourists but it is pretty fab. A lot of people don't like Sacher Torte (their famous chocolate cake) but I am the exception. I absolutely adore Sacher Torte! A glass of bubbly and a piece of cake... heaven.

Cafe Landtmann: I go here rarely and it really has become the place to be seen. They have a lovely glass extension and it is a great place to go for an overpriced breakfast.

Cafe Griensteidl: Right across from the Hofburg palace, this place is also famous. And very traditional.

So that is a list of places I would suggest people should check out. I love the coffee house culture and I love the surliness (probably stemming from self esteem issues) and there is nothing quite as Viennese as spending a long afternoon in one of them. Don't be intimidated going into one. The brilliance of Vienna coffee houses is that they are open to everybody: students, writers, politicians, pensioners and dogs! Grab a seat quickly, pull out a book, Instagram the decor and welcome to Vienna!