29 Jul 2012

Book Review (Golden Rules)

Dear readers, the book review below is written in German because the book has been published only in German up to now. This is a pitty because it really is a great book. However, as the interested audience will be german-speaking anyway, I believe that a German review is more appropriate than an English one. Many apologies if this causes any inconvenience.

Im Folgenden möchte ich eine kleine Rezension zum Buch "Golden Rules" von Martin Krengel verfassen, da es mich die letzten Wochen begleitet hat und vielleicht interessiert ja auch den oder die eine(n) oder andere(n) meiner Leser(innen) mein Review zu diesem Buch. Hier zunächst das Bild des Buch-Covers und ein Link zu Amazon (für die Kaufinteressierten :-)):
Bild des Covers zu Golden Rules und Link zu Amazon.de
Da das Buch auf deutsch geschrieben worden ist und es auch keine englische Übersetzung dazu gibt, finde ich es - wie bereits weiter oben auf englisch erläutert - sinnvoller und stimmiger, die Rezension selbst auch auf deutsch zu verfassen. Ich hoffe, das kommt allen meinen Lesern entgegen. :-)

Nun zur Rezension: Das Buch ist ein kurzweilig geschriebenes Buch voller praktischer Ideen und Tipps zur Produktivitätssteigerung, die der Autor selbst getestet hat. Man merkt beim Lesen, dass der Autor sehr viel Erfahrung mit dem Thema hat und dass er quasi "Insiderwissen" vermittelt. Die Zielgruppe für die das Buch geschrieben worden ist, sind Studenten, Doktoranden, Berufstätige, Berufseinsteiger, Wissensarbeiter und Kreative, also ein recht breiter Rundumschlag durch die Gesellschaft. Und auch ich gehöre zur Zielgruppe. Ich vermute, dass auch jeder, der sich darauf einlässt, den einen oder anderen Tipp aus dem Buch für sich nutzen kann und damit definitiv von der Lektüre profitieren kann.

27 Jul 2012

twist.bag July

Since I wasn't that happy with my last Pink Box (see my Pink Box July post here) and wanted to try more organic products anyway, I subscribed with the twist.bag. The twist.bag is shipped from Switzerland and is available for 15 Swiss francs within Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Converted in Euro, there is nearly no difference to the Pink Box price. Note also, that it costs 15 Swiss francs independently from where you order - it can be either Switzerland or Austria or Germany.

I think that an organic beauty box is a great idea because I personally always prefer a good organic product over a non-organic one which is not better. Unfortunately, many organic products often aren't that good. It depends on the product category. Hence, I was really happy when I discovered the twist.b Bag as it is a great opportunity to try more organic products.

The twist bag is always shipped on the 15th of each month. In July, the 15th was a Sunday. Hence, I assume that it was shipped on Monday the 16th. As it was shipped from Switzerland, it took quite some time to arrive at my destination. More specifically, it arrived last Wednesday and hence, it took the parcel 1.5 weeks to arrive.

See the pictures and the products that came with my Twist Bag July below. This is what was contained in the parcel: A jute bag (with the products inside) and an orange letter.

24 Jul 2012

New in: Lex Tuileries & Essence 104

At first I have to say thanks a million (and many, many more times :-)) to Jessica from Getting Cheeky for helping me get this nail polish since it unfortunately is not available in Europe. It is from Lex Cosmetics and only sold and shipped within the US. I have stumbled upon this beautiful nail polish shade while browsing through Meg's blog lips so facto for the first time and it immediately caught my attention and I became obsessed with it. Now I am lucky to have it in my collection, too, and I just love it. Without doubt, it is truly special and probably even the most beautiful nail polish of my collection. Here it is on my nails (sorry about the skin around my nails being a bit dry and chapped):

22 Jul 2012

Summer Salad with Ebly Sun Wheat

I'd like to share a simple and fast recipe with you again. This is one of my favourite salads in summer and it is also perfect for the lunch box at the office.

Ingredients for 2 meals:
  • 150 gram of Ebly sun wheat (this product is well known in Switzerland and Southern Germany and is advertised to be wheat in its most natural form - I just love it and recommend to try it), cooked according to the instructions written on the packing
  • 1 Feta cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 250 gram of fresh small tomatoes, each cut in half
  • half of a peeled cucumber, cut into small pieces

  • 4 table spoons of oil (I prefer some cold-pressed oil with a lot of different omega-x fatty acids)
  • 2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar
  • spice it properly according to your preferences with salt, pepper and basil

This is how it looks in the end:

I just love it. :-)

17 Jul 2012

Nails (& Nail Polish Review)

Here is a picture of a recent state of my nails:

The products I used for my nails are the total repair base coat by P2, the "Karl says très chic" nail polish by Catrice and the Essie good to go top coat:

This nail polish is a bit of a disappointment for me. It just does not look as good on me as on other people's nails. Look here for example @InnenundAussen on Paddy. Maybe the skin around my nails tends to be a bit too red - much more than with other people. However, somehow I think that the difference between the colour of this nail polish and my skin colour around my nails is just too blurred. Hence, I am considering to give it away to someone who can wear this colour better than me.

Otherwise I am content with my first Catrice nail polish. With Essie good to go, it dries quickly. It's opaque with the first application and it stays on the nails for around 3 to 4 days before it's chipping. But the colour does not suit me. 

16 Jul 2012

Lush Haul

Recently, I've ordered with Lush UK. I don't buy often Lush products but I felt the urge to do so again since I read a lot of interesting reviews of Lush products on different Blogs lately. In my current place of residence, there is no Lush shop and I only had the choice between ordering from Lush Germany or ordering from Lush UK. Since Lush UK is cheaper, I decided to order in the UK. The costs for shipping are double as high as in Germany but the products themselves are much cheaper. I was able to save 20 Euro compared with an order in Germany (including shipping costs) with the content of my order shown below:

These are the products I ordered:

The products are:
  • 4 Toothy Tabs: Dirty, Sparkle, Aquatic and Chou Chou ... I love you
  • Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter (I already know this product and really love to use it agains dry hands and dry cuticles and am looking very much forward to using it soon again. Its lemony scent is wonderful, too.)
  • Ultimate Shine Solid Shampoo (I've read that this is one of the least drying solid shampoos by Lush and since I desperately wanted to have a solid shampoo for ages now, I bought this one.)
  • Bohemian Soap (The scent is pure lemony love *hmmm*)
  • Therapy Massage Bar (Who doesn't need a therapy from time to time? ;-))
  • Eau Roma Water (This is a facial toner recommended by Estée - Usually, I don't use toner because I find it too drying for my skin, but I am curious whether this one is a soothing one as Estée seems to suffer from dry skin as well)
  • Rehab Shampoo (This shampoo has been recommended as very good for dry hair by Liv - I am very curios, how I'll like it.)
  • Vanilla Puff (This is a body powder I've read a lot of great reviews about)
Most of the products are new to me and I am looking forward to trying them. Most of all, I'm dying to try the toothy tabs:

14 Jul 2012

10 little secrets (Tag)

I have not been tagged, but I like the 10 little secrets tag a lot and think that the questions are very interesting. Apparently, it has been created originally by Beauty Crush some time ago - I believe somewhen in March or April 2012. Hence, me answering this tag now is not only cheeky but also belated. ;-) Anyway, here are my answers: 

1. What is one product that makes you feel like a million dollars?
I like to wear clothes and makeup that fit to the occasion I am in. Looking appropriate and well-adjusted to the context is something that makes me feel like a million dollars since everyone approving my looks makes me feel well. I don't like to rebel with my looks. That doesn't mean that I don't like to rebel - I love to rebel but rather with words than with looks. :-) 
E.g. for days at the office/University/formal events, I prefer to have a natural makeup look with my Nars pure radiant tinted moisturizer (this is one of the products making me feel like a million dollars) and a nice not too overwhelming blush and nude eyes with a shimmery beige base and matte brownish colours in the crease and the outer V. When I am visiting a glamourous or party event, I of course use much more colours. As said: my look depends on the occasion.
Another special products for me is my hair dye by Khadi (Khadi herbal hair colour in natural hazel). The colour looks like my hair colour but better (and more shiny). I love my looks the first one or two weeks after having dyed my hair. One could say that it makes me feel like a million dollars. ;-)

2. What is your skincare secret? / A passed down skin care tip
Do it regularly! Skin has a memory (not necessarily a very long term memory, but a quite a memory). My skin needs some time to adjust to regular creaming and starts only a couple of weeks later to shine from within due to the regular skin care.
And don't do too much with your skin. With skin, my experience is that less is more. This holds especially for cleaning - I don't mean that it's better to not clean ourselves but we should rather do it with water and very mild products. At least for me this rules works. ;-)

3. Share your hair care secret?
I don't wash my hair too often. I do sports every morning and my hair is always full with sweat, but I only wash it every third day. All other days I just rather rinse it with water and conditioner. In this way I save time since I don't have to use conditioner when I wash my hair (the next day I'll use it anway) and my hair is always well-groomed because I use conditioner more often than shampoo. 

4. What is your biggest diet rule?
Sugar is evil. Nevertheless, I also eat sweets from time to time (due to socialization) but since sugar is highly addictive (the Guardian talked about this phenomenon of sugar addiction recently as well) and unhealthy, I try to hold off from it for most of the time. I don't add any sugar to my beverages, i.e. I drink pure unsweetened tea and I also drink my coffe only with milk. Nevertheless, I still drink some beverages that have sugar included (but not by myself - I bought them like that), like my Chai and sometimes also a glass of Coke (and here I prefer normal Coke and don't drink any diet Coke since artificial sweeteners are even worse than sugar - in my opinion at least). And I try to eat as few sweets and cakes as possible (an exception are my own home made ones where I have the control over the sugar addition and all other ingredients). But of course I cannot hold off from sweets all time and sometimes I break this rule. Rules always have to have exceptions! ;-)
Otherwise, I don't have any diet rules except for trying to cook myself as often as I can with as many raw and fresh ingredients as possible, avoiding any kind of junk food as often as I can.

5. Any workout tips?
Just do it! :-) And do more than you think you can. It is very often the case, that we are too kind to  ourselves and our lazyness. Often it's possible to challenge ourselves more than we think our bodies are able to do. The harder it gets, the more we benefit from exercising. However, don't do it without good instructions! We can destroy our bodies if doing sports improperly.

6. Which perfume is your secret weapon?
I am a very self-centered person when it comes to perfume. When I use perfume, I most often use it solely for influencing myself positively. Lemony scents are my favourite scents on me since they wake me up and help me focus better. My favourite lemony perfume is: L'Occitane EdT Verveine. This one isn't available as EdP as far as I know. 

7. Show us a clothing item of yours which always turns heads
My bright pink blazer by Zara is sure to be turning a lot of heads. :-)

8. What is your most treasured piece of jewellery?
I am sucker for jewelry with some positive emotional meaning like positive reminders, motivational anchors and such things. I don't believe that meaningful jewelry can change something by itself but I like to wear it nevertheless and influence me positively as a reminder of positive emotional states. My favorite jewelry brand is Dogeared and I have several necklaces from this brand, a couple of them being favourites. One of them is the amethyst teardrop healing gem necklace by Dogeared. On the enclosed card it reads that the Amethyst stands for awareness, honesty and inspiration and is an ancient healer of the mind, body and spirit. And most importantly, the color suits me. :-) 
The other necklace is a silver necklace from the discontinued mantra series by Dogeared.
9. Who is your style crush?
Kendi and Chelsea. :-) Look at these gorgeous looks from Chelsea: herehere and here. I love that her looks are stylish and trendy but still wearable and down to earth. And her looks are very versatile as well. Love her style (not all outfits, but most of them ;-)).
And Kendi is a style goddess and my favourite source of inspiration. All of her outfits are great and some are really perfect. I especially like her more colourful outfits like this one, this one, this one or this one. Other examples of great outfits by Kendi are this one, this one, this one and this one. Actually, I should check Kendi's blog more often. Choosing these above linked outfits for this post was a lot of fun and now I am in the mood for creating great combinations from the content of my own wardrobe. :-) 

10. Tell us something we don't know about you
There is a lot you don't know about me. *evillaughter*  8-D
Hmmm, I don't know what to tell you. The blog is in its infancy and there is nearly nothing you really know about me. You just know that I do sports and try to live healthy and organized and that I am kind of a beauty addict (but not that bad yet). ;-)
The following new information might be of some value however: I am a science fiction and fantasy fan and love to watch SF or Fantasy movies or TV shows. From time to time I also read an SF or Fantasy book, but I prefer to watch SF and Fantasy rather than to read it. Usually I prefer to read non-fiction books as can be seen in my current to-read list and the book I am currently reading which is shown on the right of this blog. Nevertheless, writing my thesis at the moment does not leave me much time for reading. Actually, I shouldn't be writing this blog post either. :-P

13 Jul 2012

Towards setting goals properly

Setting goals is important in life in order to gain control, feel empowered and be more in charge of ourselves. By setting goals and taking actions to achieve them, we are giving our lives the directions we desire which makes our life fulfilling and meaningful. Recently, I shared with you the goal to bike for 5 hours a week and started to track my progress with the bar shown on the right column of this blog. This goal has worked out very well for me and sharing it with you guys has motivated me a lot to pursue my goal with all my energy.

Nevertheless, it is highly controversial whether sharing goals with others is motivating or not. See the TED talk below where Derek Sivers advises us to not share our goals:

I think that the research Derek is mentioning is right concerning how and with whom you share your goals. Being admired for just having your goals and being acknowledged as if the goals have been achieved already is indeed counterproductive. In case you decide to announce your goals you should be sure to announce them to the right persons in the right way in order to avoid any kind of gratification that might hamper reaching your goals. You might also have to take care that you are not talked out of your goal either - sometimes this happens as well and it depends on your personality whether this is something that motivates you (to prove people wrong and pursue your goals nevertheless) or whether it is rather demotivating you.

However, in my experience it is important to hold yourself accountable and to tell your goals to others who will ask you regularly about how it goes and kick your ass when necessary. This can help a lot with achieving your goals as you have the pressure to render an account. So, discussing your aims with a positive and helpful audience can help reach your goals. You have to take care, however, that if you give account for not reaching your goals, it is very important to not talk yourself down too much such that you start feeling empty, powerless and as if you were incapable of achieving a goal. This is so not true - everyone can achieve their goals. Instead of talking you down and punish yourself, you should notice that you have not achieved a goal and analyse why you have not achieved it. There is always a cause and it is not your personal insufficiency. It is very important to keep being positive but still realistic (and admit the truth to yourself), in order to be able to improve, change or achieve a goal. One mistake often made is that a goal is not set properly, i.e. it is not S.M.A.R.T. as explained below.

What this all amounts to is that talking about your goals to the right persons can yield a kind of social support system as discussed by the author of "The happiness project", Gretchen Rubin, in the video below. The video discusses also a couple of additional interesting ideas on how to hold yourself accountable for your resolutions:

As mentioned above, setting goals in itself is also not that easy. A goal has to be S.M.A.R.T.ly set, i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive. It also is important to not have too many goals at the same time since that might distract you. Focus on the most important goals (ideally just one for each life pillar) and keep them challenging but not impossible to reach. Note that there are also other words that can be used as substitute for S.M.A.R.T. or even S.M.A.R.T.E.R. as can be seen here - unfortunately, there is a specific very nice substitute for the A missing in these sources, namely attractive. Goals have to be attractive, i.e. they have to be formulated positively and not negatively (e.g. don't say "I don't want to be overweight anymore" but rather "I want to get slimmer and healthier and happier" in order to create a positive goal towards which you can target your life). Getting away from something negative is not as motivating as getting closer to something great. Keep in mind that in the moment you reach your goal, you'll feel great and your self confidence improves - this is what you should remind yourself of when targeting your goal. A nice german translation of the S.M.A.R.T. principle of formulating a goal hence is in my opinion: spezifisch (what exactly do you want to achieve?), messbar (when will you know that you achieved it and how do you measure progress?), attraktiv (make it beautiful and appaling and wonderful - note that you can only do so when it's your own goal and not a goal you have been talked into ;-)), ressourcenorientiert (do you have everything you need for reaching the goal? What is missing and what might have to be gathered by you before starting to pursue your goal? Can you gather it on the go while pursuing your goal?) und terminiert (when is your deadline and what exactly are the actions you want to take in order to get closer to your goal and when exactly will you do them?). 

Another very important thing is to check whether your goals match your values and whether your beliefs do not hamper you reaching your goals. It can be very difficult to make our values and our beliefs more transparent since naturally they tend to be hidden. They are a kind of bias we adopted very early in our lives e.g. due to our experiences in our childhood. Since they are deeply interweaved with our personality we usually are unaware of them. Some counseling by an expert with appropriate experience and a fresh mind can be tremendously helpful since we tend to be caught in our own traps. Nevertheless, since good counseling can be very expensive and we all are more or less on a budget and have to prioritize our expenses, here are two techniques to help you adjust your goals to your values and make you beliefs and values more transparent. More transparency can be achieved e.g. by using the 5 whys technique. "Why?" is one kind of question, you might also consider working additionally with questions like "how?", "when?", "to what end?", "what instead?", ... There are plenty of possibilities for leading a fruitful and illuminating conversation with yourself. ;-)
The video below provides some helpful advice by Jeff Doubek on adjusting your goals to your values:

However, as said above, with values and beliefs it's tricky because we tend to stew in our own juice and don't observe our unconcious biases. We don't remember how we gained our bias and often act unconciously. Hence, we should also be careful and try to adjust ourselves to life by means of the feedback we get from others. This requires openness and many fruitful discussions with others. In case we have tremendous difficulties to reach specific goals we really want to achieve, however, it might be worthwile to seek for advice and counselling with an expert with some kind of psychological background (it does not necessarily have to be therapy - I even think that this might be counterproductive in some settings). With the help of the expert you might discover specific unconscious beliefs or values that hamper you and that you have to deal with properly in order to get closer to your goal. Note that the state of your mind is also a resource and hence part of the "R" (here with the much better substitute resource oriented/ressourcenorientiert than realistic, because if you have all resources available, your goal is indeed realistic).

A hands-on first solution how-to for dealing with difficulties concerning your goals: In case you constantly do not reach your goals, you should gradually shrink the amount of goals you are aiming for until you focus on the one goal that is most important to you. In this way, you also prioritize your goals on the go which is very important in time and task management in general. In case this goal is connected with a habit, you should give it 30 days for manifesting it within your daily routine. If it is not a habit but a long-term goal, you should analyze it, break it down into subgoals and define the dependencies and finally realistically assess how much time you'll need until you reach each of the subgoals. You should also investigate what kinds of resources are necessary for reaching your goal and whether they are already available to you or whether you have to gather them before starting to pursue your goal.

And as soon as you have everything analyzed and defined, you can boost your motivation for reaching your goal by means of a vision board. This also belongs to the "A" (attractive) part of S.M.A.R.T.ly defined goals. ;-)

I might share some goals with you soon again, in order to motivate me to reach them. :) Which goals are you currently trying to achieve?

12 Jul 2012

My Artdeco products

Before the Artdeco Dita von Teese LE came out recently, I only owned one single blush by Artdeco which is a bright orangey one (Number 11). I love this blush and it is very pigmented. The Dita von Teese LE has been very appealing and since I have read a lot of good reviews by different beauty bloggers of Artdeco eye shadows, I recently bought 4 eye shadows and a blush from the Dita von Teese LE (note that last month, I already bought the other blush that comes with the Dita von Teese LE).

These are the newly bought products in July (all of them are from the Dita von Teese LE):

The products are:
  • Powder eyeshadows (bright to dark): 512 (von Fleece), 554 (Petticoat), 520 (Brunesque), 524 (Mink). All of them are matte eye shadows.
  • Powder blush in 09 (Ingnue)
I also bought an empty palette, the beauty box magnum by Artdeco:

Here you can see all my Dita von Teese products in the beauty box magnum (on the right you can see the blush 31 (Starlet Pink) which I already bought in June):

I was thinking about buying 2 additional eye shadows from the Dita von Teese line since the colours are really lovely nude every day shades. But I don't like these matte eye shadows. They are too powdery and don't blend well. Actually, I wasn't able to blend them at all. They are also pretty expensive with nearly 5 Euro each and hence, I am really disappointed. It's really no comparison with MAC or Nars and even Catrice and P2 which are really cheap brands as well (a Catrice Mono eyeshadow costs a bit less than 3 Euro and a P2 matte Mono eyeshadow even less than 2 Euro), but still do blend better. I have heard that the non-matte eye shadows by Artdeco are not that bad and better blendable than the matte ones but I definitely won't purchase any eye shadows from Artdeco again since I am really very disappointed! However, I bought these ones and I of course try to use them up nevertheless. Maybe I will like them some day ... who knows. Some products have some hidden values that need some time to be discovered. Nevertheless, I doubt that I'll like these eye shadows some day since I own so many eye shadows that are a million times better. Let's see ...

I do like the blushes, though. Especially the colours that come with the Dita von Teese LE are really lovely and I am happy that I bought them both. The blush 09 is a great every day colour that just looks gorgeous and can be used to create a very natural and nude no-makeup makeup look. 

I also do like the beauty box magnum. It's a bit sturdy but also solid and since it is a freestyle palette and the magnet is also very strong, you also can put MAC eye shadows into it and carry them around very conveniently. I also like the huge mirror that is included. The box was indeed a good buy.

Below you can see the beauty box magnum with the Dita von Teese products I own and additionally the Artdeco blush 11 (orange blush) that unfortunately does not fit anymore into the beauty box. These are all Artdeco products I currently own (except for nail products - I do own a couple of nail polishes and nail care products).

If I take one eye shadow out, the third blush does fit into the beauty box. This is how it looks then:

Now I have to decide how I'll fill my beauty box: all Dita von Teese LE products and some single addional depottet eye shadow or rather all 3 Artdeco blushes and 3 Artdeco eye shadows? So many decisions to be made and so little time ... ;-)

10 Jul 2012

In my ears

Obviously, I am completely SMASH-ed at the moment! ;-)

9 Jul 2012

New in: Essence Blushes & L'Oreal Caresse Lipsticks

At Rossmann, there currently is a sales promotion of 20% for L'Oreal makeup products (until the 13th of July, so hurry up if you want to buy any L'Oreal makeup products!). Additionally, Essence has released a very interesting new limited edition called Ready for Boarding. Hence, I had to have a look and then also bought these 4 products:

The products are:
  • Essence Lip and Cheek Creme in 01 sending you kisses (above in the picture, it is the pink blush on the right) and 02 beauty on tour (above in the picture it is the peachy blush on the left). These blushes are the only ones coming with the Ready for Boarding LE of Essence and at first, I only bought the peachy shade 02 - you might have read that I try to keep myself from buying blushes and especially LEs. However, these blushes have not been expensive (2,50 Euro each) and I have read great reviews on other blogs about them, e.g. this recommendation here. After having fallen in love with the peachy blush 02, I had to buy the other one as well and I really like them and have used them each day since I bought them. Nevertheless, I really do own a ton of blushes now - but the blush 02 beauty on tour is the first peachy cream blush I own. So, it was worth it.
02 beauty on tour is on the left and 01 sending you kisses is on the right
  • L'Oreal Caresse lipstick in Rebel Red. I love this new lipstick line from L'Oreal. L'Oreal is also a company, I don't like that much and try to avoid, but this lipstick line is so great. The lipsticks are not drying and the more colourful ones like Rebel Red do look so great on the lips since they are not too opaque and they also do stain the lips a bit and hence stay much longer than other nurturing lipsticks. However, I still have to use a lip balm underneath because my lips are very dry. Rebel Red is a really lovely red that suits me and just looks great. 
  • L'Oreal Caresse lipstick in Impulsive Fuchsia. This is a lovely fuchsia that again is not too opaque and looks stunning on the lips. Actually, it has even become my favourite lipstick at the moment.

8 Jul 2012

June recap of fitness activities

A short recap of my sporting activities in June:

First June Week (06/04 - 06/10)
  1. Weight training: 1.5 hours
  2. Horseback Riding: 1 hour
  3. Biking:

Second June Week (06/11 - 06/17)
  1. Weight training: 1.5 hours
  2. Horseback Riding: 1 hour
  3. Biking:

Third June Week (06/18 - 06/24)
  1. Weight training: 1.5 hours 
  2. Mixed weight training (a bit of Blogilates (Calves/Thighs/Arms) + a couple of body weight exercises): 1 hour
  3. Horseback Riding: 1 hour
  4. Biking:

Fourth June Week (06/25 - 07/01)
  1. Weight Training: 1.5 hours
  2. Mixed weight training (a bit of Blogilates (Calves/Thighs/Arms) + a couple of body weight exercises): 1 hour 
  3. Horseback Riding: 1 hour
  4. Biking:

It is a pitty that I missed my aqua running course in June completely. I was very busy and just did not manage to go there. But I try to not miss the two last sessions of this course that will be held in July. Last week, I attended the session in the first week of July already and hope I can make it to the second one as well. Unfortunately, I have an inflammation at the moment and might not be able to attend the course next week. Wish me luck that it heals quickly! :-) It felt so great last week and I really love aqua running. Worst of all is that there might not be any aqua running courses anymore in the next semester at my University.

Altogether I am content with my sports activities in June. I was cycling for 5 hours each week and have also done some weight training (and mixed weight training occasionally enhanced with dumbbells) and this shows already. My body looks much better than before and most importantly, it also feels a million times better, healthier and stronger. But there is still a long way to go, I am still not there where I want to get concerning physical efficiency and vitality - and also my looks could still improve a bit. ;-)

7 Jul 2012

Towards a stronger, healthier and fitter me

You might have noticed the goal bar on the right column of my blog. This post shall provide an explanation. With this bar I track my weekly progress with biking and keep myself motivated. Each day I update the progress and seeing the progress motivates me to keep going. Knowing that you guys might check my progress every day as well, motivates me too. ;-)
A recent status of my biking progress bar on the right border of my blog

Currently, I am trying to do a lot of sports in order to become more healthy and fit. Of course it is a very nice side effect that the body becomes slimer and more defined as well. There's no doubt that I am enjoying the improvement of my body shape a lot. However, at the moment my focus lies on the health and fitness issue. I want to become stronger and healthier and improve my posture and physical capabilities in general. I have never been a sports enthusiast in my whole life and just focussing on getting a better body with sports has never been enough to keep me motivated on the long term. Maybe it was because my body has never been in a terrible shape anyway. My fitness, however, is in a terrible shape! And it has gotten worse and worse over the last years.

In the last years I have experimented with different kinds of sports: Yoga, weight training @the gym, weight training @home, cycling, running, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming and aqua running. I have also experimented with different times for the workouts: I tried to do sports in the morning, sports during the lunch break, sport in the evening or somewhen during the day. But I have never been able to keep a regular exercise schedule for a long time. It was rather a discipline issue. I had and still have severe issues with work life balance. Resolving these issues is a challenge for me but I am aware of these issues and I am dealing with them and it gets better and better - very slowly however (like all changes that affect your whole life, i.e. you habits and your belief system). Recently, I have managed to find a way to integrate regular sporting activities into my life, however, and it's working well for a couple of months already. That's longer than ever before. Obviously, the only way to integrate sports into my life that works for me is doing sports on a daily basis. When it becomes an every day routine, it just works without a second thought and I start to really need it and still can focus my mind on other things (because the sports routine does not involve any thinking anymore). If I am not able to do my sport routine, my day just feels incomplete. Additionally, it is important for me to make the time - whatever happens, I have, have, have to do it, unless I am  suffering from a cold or an inflammation. There is no other excuse. There are no deadlines or obligations that are more important than my sports appointments!

For a couple of months now, I cycle on my bicycle ergometer in my bedroom almost every morning immediately after getting up. On average I cycle for about 40 minutes each morning, sometimes less and sometimes a little bit more (since I have my progress bar on my blog it's rather more then less ;-)). Additionally, I also do aqua running once a week for 1 hour - at least during the lecture period of my University since I am attending a course at University. So, in good weeks, my weekly cardio routine has a duration of around 6 hours. Furthermore, I do horseback riding once a week for 1 hour. I also do 1.5 hours of weight training a week but not that regularly, unfortunately. I'd like to do more weight training and some Pilates and Yoga on a regular basis as well and have to find some exercise routine and schedule that's appropriate for me.

In order to motivate myself to keep up with my sporting activities, I'll write a monthly recap post summarizing my sports efforts. Such a recap would also help me to review why my fitness and looks have improved or not improved (either is possible ;-)).

During the last weeks I have managed to loose a bit of weight and my body shape has started to improve a lot. Although I am focusing on health and fitness, the looks of course are not unimportant at all and do count as well. Hence, I really hope to be able to wear some short dresses soon, e.g. the ones shown below are really lovely:

picture & dress are both from COS
picture & dress are both from COS

6 Jul 2012

The fuss with passwords

Passwords are important. We are using them everywhere and all the time, e.g. when using facebook, when shopping online with an own account, when logging into our own computers, etc. We should take the time to think about how we use our passwords since they are one of the most sensitive security breach. One month ago, linkedin has been hacked and 6.5 million passwords have been posted online. Is yours among them? Mine wasn't. Nevertheless, I changed my password and reconsidered my password routine. Fortunately, I haven't reused my password often but sometimes I did. Of course I changed these passwords, too (and don't reuse them anymore).

Rules of Thumb:
  • don't use the same password for several web sites/applications (In case you are an average internet user with 25 accounts, you might need a tool where you can safely store your 25 different passwords, e.g. Keepass or Clipperz, note however that the latter is an online site again that might be hacked as well ...)
  • change your password on a regular basis (in an ideal world this would be weekly but in a normal world less is ok too as long as you change it regularly)
  • choose secure passwords that are unlikely to be hacked (e.g. not your name or the name of your child attached with the birth year - more inspiration on passwords you shouldn't use can be found among the 25 worst passwords of 2011 ;-))

Below is a nice infographic by Lifehacker visualizing a summary of what you need to know about passwords. It has been posted in this article by Lifehacker which I recommend reading as well since it also provides more advice on passwords.

3 Jul 2012

Skin Analysis (Douglas)

Douglas offers a skin analysis in their stores. I didn't know that before I got this coupon for a free skin analysis with one of my orders at Douglas earlier this year:
I am not sure but I think you can get such a skin analysis also completely for free, i.e. without such a coupon.

At first I doubted that this skin analysis would be useful for me. My odyssey of trying to find out what kind of skin type I have lasts years now. Why should such a skin analysis be more helpful than all the skin tests and skin discussions I had before? I made different tests you can often find in women's magazines (no insights gained - just a lot of additional confusion), I discussed my skin with a MAC employee (he was sure my skin was dehydrated and recommended me Dermalogica products ;-)) and even with a dermatologist (she was sure my skin was normal and did not want to recommend me anything).

My skin is not acne-prone and although it tends a bit to redness, it is also not eczema-prone. I usually do not get any spots and have only very few and small blackheads. As a teenager I also did not have too many spots, just one or two here or there and also the amount and size of my blackheads were rather small. My pores also have always been rather small. But I always had the feeling that my skin was drier than the skin of other people my age. At a very early age, I already discovered a tendency to get wrinkles and I also always had some kind of light redness in my face. Only recently, when I started to use skin care more regularly (i.e. last summer when I decided to use up the huge amount of beauty products I had accumulated in my bathroom), I discovered that my skin redness is associated with skin dryness. When properly cared for, my skin colour is even and radiant and really beautiful.

While last summer I surprisingly was able to get the most beautiful skin of my life with rather light face creams like Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion (in german Weleda Mandel Wohltuende Feuchtigkeitspflege) which targets combination skin - but only after 1 month of regular use (morning and evening), a few applications did not change anything and each time I skipped a treatment, it got worse again -, during last winter I was not able to manage my skin properly at all. It was very dry and sensitive although I used skin care for dry and very dry skin. With the skin care of last summer, it was even worse. Nothing helped my skin to look as great as last summer. So, I was and still am asking myself whether there is something I can do to better soothe my skin in winter too.

My skin also does not like being not cared after at all. It tends to become very dry also in summer and I get wrinkles and redness due to dryness. For the Douglas skin analysis which I did last weekend, I stopped using face cream and makeup for two days in order to get my most natural skin state analyzed. Hence, my skin looked really terrible when I did this test. It was very dry and wrinkly. After the analysis, I hence immediately started using my skin care again (which unfortunately is not a good skin care for my skin but this will be discussed in another post ;-)).

At Douglas, the skin test is performed with a specific kind of small device which is standing on a table. A tube is coming out of the device with a sensor at it's end. This sensor is put your skin and when the test is performed, it feels a bit tingly on the skin. During the test four things are tested: hydration of the skin, fat content of the skin, pigmentation and elasticity of the skin. Afterwards you are given a general recommendation for skin care and sun protection - in my case they didn't give me any product recommendations (as mentioned on the coupon) which I appreciated a lot, however.
My results were as follows:
  • Hydration: the device measured 50% to 60% which is not much hydrated but kind of okayish - at least it is not dry either. Interestingly, my skin on the forehead was a bit drier than on the cheeks. Hence, I seem to not have a typical t-zone of combination skin. 
  • Fat Content: this was my worst result. The device measured nearly nothing at all anywhere in my face. The employee asked me even whether I had put some powder on but I hadn't. As mentioned above, I hadn't used any skin care and any makeup for 2 whole days before that test. Finally she said I should have used skin care in the morning but I think that this would have measured the effect of the skin care and not the basic state of my skin itself. What do you think? This result however shows that my skin seems to not be able to protect itself even in summer (and it's really warm at the moment). How vulnerable must it be in winter? :-/
  • Pigmentation: I am not very pigmented and need very light foundations anyway, so it is no wonder that the device recommended me an SPF of 40. The employee suggested to use something between SPF 30 and SPF 40.
  • Skin Elasticity: This was my best result. On very dry areas like the forehead it was a bit more than 70% and on a bit less dry areas it was 80%. The employee said that this is a great result. I don't know whether this is true since I don't have a clue how the device works. The employee was not able to explain it herself either but I guess she compared my result with the results of her other customers. I wonder whether there is a correlation between dryness and elasticity. Do you happen to know whether dry skin is also less elastic? 
I might do this test soon again with skin care applied in the morning - just to see whether the result changes - and I also plan to do this test in Winter again, because my winter skin is incredibly dry and I just cannot get it in proper shape, i.e. healthy glowing without any redness and dryness. As mentioned above, in summer, my skin is much easier to manage.

Have you already done such a Douglas skin analysis? What were your results?

The face mapping approach by Dermalogica seems to be interesting as well (see more information here), but do they explain the results in way that does not depend on Dermalogica products? Do you happen to know whether there are other, possibly better skin tests available that reveal much deeper insights about our skin (independent from product recommendations)? The Douglas skin analysis helped me a lot to gain more information about my skin but I'd like to learn even more about it. If you know about better skin tests, I'd appreciate it a lot if you would share that information.

2 Jul 2012

Summer body lotion recommendation

My body lotion recommendation for this summer is Blütenzauber by Dove. I bought this body lotion in June (note that although the Haul has been mentioned on my blog only end of June, I bought it in the middle of June and have experimented with it sporadically for about 2 weeks now) and I am using it currently all the time. Usually I don't like Dove as a company and try to rather buy organic body lotions but for this one I made an exception and I am happy that I did. 

It is a light body lotion that is quickly absorbed by the skin but still nurtures it properly. Dove calls this hydrating effect "Deep care complex" and it indeed provides some kind of deep care. For summer, this nurturing effect is about perfect. And there is no shimmer or colour whatsoever in this body lotion either. I don't like shimmery or coloured body lotions at all - in December last year I pushed myself to use up a really terrible shimmery body lotion by Dove; since then I forgo products by Dove and especially try to avoid shimmery body lotions in general.

The greatest thing about this body lotion, however, is that it is vitalizing and stimulating (in german it's called "belebend" as you can see on the back of the bottle). This enliving effect holds for at least half of the day, actually even more. The skin is cooled and the blood circulation is enhanced. This effect is not too strong, however, it's just perfect and it feels great in summer. On cold days or in offices with air condition I cannot recommend it since you are freezing more with it. This body lotion is a pure summer body lotion for warm weather and a warm environment - but for such kinds of environments it is really great!

Have a look at pictures of the product below. On the second picture you can also see the ingredients. Try it and tell me how you like it! :-)

Front of the Dove body lotion "Blütenzauber"

Back of the Dove "Blütenzauber" body lotion

1 Jul 2012

Beauty Empties June

Last month, I emptied 25 products. Well, six of them are makeup products that haven't been emptied completely but makeup products are not that easy to empty. In case I don't like them I also prefer to not torture myself and hence also don't empty them completely. Furthermore, two of the emptied products are for the teeth and I repurchase these products regularly anyway. I only wanted to include them this time in order to share them with you. Next time, I don't think I'll include them again since I don't tend to collect teeth products (and don't have to use them up in order to gain space again - which I obviously have to do with a couple of beauty product categories ;-)) and also don't change them often.
Nevertheless, I am very surprised that I managed to empty/get rid of 25 products last month. The amount of products is even bigger than in May and I've been so proud of myself in May. ;-) I am really curious what the next month will bring ... However, I prefer to not expect too much and hence might be surprised again. Let's see.
This month I have not emptied any products for feet. It's because I have often used my body butters for my feet as well. Since the body butters I used in May have been very nurturing, my feet didn't need any extra attention.

Here is a picture of all products emptied in June:

A short summary and my thoughts about the products, I emptied in June:
  • Shower Gel & Shampoo
    • Fa SPORT Double Power Körper & Haar: this was in my Pink Box of June. At first I hated it (this is also why I immediately started using it - I just wanted to get rid of it). But it's ok; it is refreshing; you can use it for hair and body yielding a reduction of the amount of products standing in your shower which I experienced as pretty relieving. The scent is not worth mentioning since it's nothing special. It's not among my favourites - it's just a useful and somewhat convenient product (because it's for body & hair). Nothing more and nothing less. I doubt that I'll purchase it soon again. But you never know. Some day I might repurchase it nevertheless since it's cheap, convenient and fastly emptied. Let's see. 
    • Some Hotel Shower & Bath Gel (30ml): This is a shower & bath gel, I got at my hotel during my short trip last month. It was a noname hotel and the product is a noname product. It was ok, nothing special and I don't miss it. Wouldn't repurchase it - but I can't repurchase it anyway. ;-)
    • Alterra Blaubeere & Vanille shower gel: This is a limited edition shower gel by Alterra from last summer. It was ok, I liked the scent in the beginning a lot but in the end it was too strong for me and the last times I used it I found it even pretty annoying. This is why I haven't bought another limited edition summer shower gel by Alterra yet and don't think I will.
  • pure Hair Products (see above products that can be used for hair & body at the same time)
    • Alverde Feuchtigkeits Haarkur Aloe Vera Hibiskus: this is a conditioner by Alverde. I like it. It's a very nice product. It nurtures the hair and it is easy to use. I think I will repurchase it.
    • Alterra Feuchtigkeitsspülung Granatapfel & Aloe Vera: this is a conditioner by Alterra and also a very nice product which I liked using. However I don't like the packaging Alterra provides to its products. Products with thicker consistencies cannot be emptied that easily in such a packaging. I have to cut the bottle open on the side in order to get to the amount for the last one or two applications of product. In my opinion this is too unhandy. Hence, I don't think I'll buy it again although I like the product. The packaging is just a pain in the ass.
    • Some Hotel Shampoo (30ml): This is also a noname shampoo, I got at my noname hotel during my short trip last month. It was ok, nothing special and I don't miss it. Wouldn't repurchase it - but I can't repurchase it anyway. ;-)
    • Anne Semonin Shampoo: It belongs to the body lotion by Anne Semonin mentioned below. Didn't like it though because it dried my hair. The scent however was as divine as the one of the beloved body lotion as mentioned in a previous blog post.

  • Body Lotions and body butters
    • 2 pots of Alverde Körperbutter Verveine, once full-sized and once as a 30ml sample: This is a limited edition for this summer by Alverde. It's a very nurturing body butter since it's for very dry skin. I liked it except for the scent. It smelled a little bit like citrus cleaning products. Hence, I won't repurchase it!
    • Lait Corps Hydratant (verveine exotique) by Anne Semonin: This is a product I got during my stay at one the Radisson (Blu) Hotels during my short trip last month. I love, love, love this body lotion. It's refreshing and quickly absorbed by the skin. The skin feels great after application. I even wrote a blog post about it and I am looking very much forward to my next stay at Radisson Blu. ;-)  
    • Bioturm Body Butter Rose: Very nurturing body butter which has come with my Pink box of June. I didn't like the scent that much (too organic for my taste) but it was ok. It has been absorbed by the skin very slowly which is a sign for a very skin nurturing product which it is indeed. The consistency is like a mousse and not like a body butter. Alltogether, the product is not bad and I might consider repurchasing it some day.
    • Weleda Granatapfel Regenerierende Bodylotion (20ml Sample): This has been a nice body lotion. I don't like this specific scent that much, but it's nevertheless a nice product. It is also very convenient for summer since it is very quickly absorbed by the skin. It's very light. Nevertheless, I won't repurchase it, but maybe another one from the body lotion line of Weleda.

  • Antiperspirants
    • 2 bottles of Balea Deospray Sensitive 48 hours (both sample sized): The scent is awfull and I am happy that it's finally emptied and I can finally throw it away. Will never repurchase and don't know how I was able to end up with 2 (!!) bottles. Fortunately, they are both empty now! Even my mother said that it stinks like hell when I visited her last time and used it there. :-)
  • Tooth products:
    • Dontodent Intensive Clean toothpaste: My favourite toothpaste. In my opinion, it cleans the teeth better than all other toothpastes I ever tried. Will definitely repurchase. 
    • Listerine Cool Citrus Antibakterielle Mundspülung: This is a mouth wash product that can be used after cleaning the teeth. I like it; it's among my favourite products for the teeth and I repurchase it regularly.
  • Make up remover
    • Rival de Loop Augenmakeup Entferner Pads: These are oily eye makeup remover pads that can also be used for waterproof eye makeup. I like these eye makeup removers a lot. It's a solid product. Will definitely repurchase.
    • 2 packages of Boots Moisturizing Nail Polish Remover Pads: These are pretty old. I bought them years ago at Boots in Ireland. I had a huge amount of backups. But now with these two packages, I managed to use them all up. The scent is nice and they remove nail polish fastly. I don't know whether Boots still sells them. If these are still available, I might repurchase them.  

  • Makeup:
    • Rival de Loop Aqua Face Powder: This powder has been sold last summer as a limited edition and has been recommended as a dupe to the MAC magically cool liquid powder. I haven't tried the MAC powder, so I cannot say anything about powders with water but this one was awfull. It made my face chalky and the cooling effekt disappears within minutes after application. Hence I don't see any sense in the cooling effect aynway. I really tried to empty this powder but in the end I was so fed up with it that I threw the rest into the bin. I like to keep the package though. 
    • H&M lip gloss cherry and H&M lip gloss apple: These lip glosses have been very drying my lips unfortunately. I have not emptied them completely since I did not like them at all. They were very uncomfortable to wear and after extensive experiments with them I decided to get rid of them. I still have an orange lip gloss by H&M from this series in use which I still want to keep for further experiments - but I doubt that it will survive the next month. ;-) I love the packages though and will of course keep them. The cute little apple, cherry and orange will provide very nice storage for little things. :-)
    • P2 Colourtouch eye pencil: Not my colour. I don't like to wear greens often and already own a couple of green eye shadows I use very seldomly but which I like much more. This one was very bright on my eyes and the colour just popped too much for my taste. It was a present that came with another product I recently bought. Since it didn't cost me anything and I didn't like it either, I decided very fastly to get rid of it. And I feel incredibly relieved without it! ;-)
    • Alterra Volume Mascara: Similar to the Alterra Mascara I got rid of in May, this one has been burning in my eyes, too. Furthermore it has not created any impressive lashes either. Especially compared with my current favourite mascara, this one hasn't really been a good mascara. Hence, I decided to throw it away.
    • Astor Quick & Go 45 sec nail polish in colour 07: I don't like this nail polish. It is okayish when you apply only one thin coat. As soon as you apply 2 coats it looks streamy. My version also has dried out a bit yielding an even more difficult application. I used it a couple of times but now I am fed up with it and since I have much nicer nude nail polishes, I decided to get rid of this one.