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Hallenbad Union Graz (Austria)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So, the closure of the open air swimming pool in Gleisdorf forced me to explore new possibilities to swim. Now, whereever I go, I check before if there is a swimming pool nearby, and I bring my stuff, and jump in for a quick breaststroke series.

In this spirit, because I often end up in Graz, I decided to explore all the indoor swimming pools in Graz. I visited first Spa Zur Sonne, then Eggenberg was on for Monday, and today Union Graz.

This one had only a 33m pool (which is a luxury compared to last weeks small 25m pool during my training course), but finally, it had proper lanes, like in Hungary. Most of the people were sporty, swimming in a good rythm with a good technique. This matters, I noticed that somehow if other swim with a good spirit, I swim better and just enjoy the whole thing better.
What is interesting that the entry fee in Hungary and Austria is the same, 3.8-4.6 Euros in both countries.

As before, I used my running to commute to and from the swimming pool, to compact time. Because my run takes 60 min every day, it does matter a lot.
And, I also feel so free just to run trough the whole city.

Arriving to the train station, I made a quick shopping, packed my shopping basket with fresh grapes, green salad, paprika, oranges and some dark chocolate. I love that I don't have to think anymore what should I buy, I already know what is healthy, and how to shop. Actually, I save also tons of time at shopping, since I do it the healthy lifestyle way.

I burned about 1300 kcal, and as I was at about 2000 kcal before the exercise, I had room for 700kcal. I loved the 1000g of grapes, the big paprika, the two small oranges, and 3/4 of the 100g chocolate on the train back.

Hallenbad Spa Zur Sonne Graz
33m pool, relaxing atmosphere, nice sauna on the top - perfect for a city-center jump

Hallenbad Eggenberg Auster Graz
50m pool, swimming team training on the other lanes - perfect for near railway station experience

Hallenbad Union Graz
33m pool, many sporty amateur swimmers - perfect for near opposite of railway station target

So, next time I'm in Graz, I will easily plan in a swimming detour to the nearby pool, as I now know the where-what-how.

My next target will be Hallenbad in Fehring, so when I travel by train to the other direction (opposite to Graz), I can make a quick stop to swim.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NTSOHLTHNT 9/29/2011 6:13PM

    Nice! I love your background picture, too.

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IGSBETH 9/29/2011 1:22PM

    Sounds wonderful!

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FVHORVATH 9/29/2011 11:05AM

    The pool looks liekso much fun that I just want to come over and jump in! I sure wish they would open the high schools pools around her again but they have decided not to do that. Darn! I love to swim and miss it very much.

I do love seeing all the pictures you have. It's like taking a vacation without leaving the states!

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 9/29/2011 1:58AM

    I love reading your blogs! So cool seeing all your destinations & your healthy life style choices.

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KKINNEA 9/28/2011 9:45PM

    All of those pools look good. Glad you have options!

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    I am amazed with your lifestyle. Nothing stops you from doing your exercise. You're an inspiration.

P.S. : I LOVE the new picture on your Sparkpage. What city is it?

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CANDOK1260 9/28/2011 6:54PM

    great pool both of them. I am staying at a hotel this week and I pick it for the heated pool.

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A week in the hotel - the look back

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So, I have spent last week from Sunday to Saturday in the "Holiday Beach Hotel" in Budapest, Hungary, on a training course. This was the 2nd week of a series of 5 weeks.

The course, and the class were exceptional, I still miss the experience and am on the re-entry road to daily work life. I just enjoy now to look back to this fantastic week, reliving a bit the experiences.

EXERCISE (The 30% bit)
I went to run-swim-run (5K-1K-5K) almost every morning. We had even a group starting up at 6.30am to run, I joined them the first morning, but then I went to run towards the swimming pool, and had to run by 5 min/K to be on time.

This was the first time for me to exercise in the morning, and a classmate encouraged me to do so, so we can run together. The advantage was that I was relaxed during the day about "I had my exercise already", and was energized in the morning from the run. So, I tried something new, it worked, so my options for the best time for exercise (anytime) got wider.

The disadvantage was that I felt it is quite hard on my metabolism to make a 1500 kcal exercise after the night, without any eating before. Afterwards, during the breakfast, I was eating like a husky-dog, heaps of scrambled eggs, melon, müsli.
My favourite bit of "exercise" was 3h dancing in Morrison's Music Pub 2, from 2300 to 0200. Leaves you Zumba girls in the dust! ;-)

NUTRITION (The 70% bit)
The food quality was mediocre. Lots of fat, lots of carbs, heaps of energy in every meal. I had to make a conscious decision at every single meal to stick to the salad bar, and only get some piece of fish and meat, and leave the pasta/rice/potato mountains to rest. I can't remember a healthy meal offered during the whole week. But, I could get my way around.

Two persons told me they got to like my method of small plates for the buffet table, and switched to small plates. That is a compliment! Also, the habit of "one visit to the buffet table" was effective - I have made up my mind at the beginning, and didn't return to the buffet table anymore. Actually, someone here on sparkpeople told me these tips in response to one of my blogs about travel and healthy eating, so I am happy it reaches others, too.

Also, I started with low calorie items first, soups, salads, raw vegetables, and only then turned to meat and fish. And I chose fish whenever possible.

We also managed to get fruits for the coffeebreaks, instead of the bakery and sweets. In May, it was difficult to push the hotel for this, but now, it became a group effort, and finally we got the fruits.
Level 3 on this game would be raw vegetables for the coffee break (carrot and cucumber sticks for example), but I think that would too advanced for this hotel's chef.

For drinks, I stuck to cola light, tea, and water, with only one energy rich drink per day - which I usually saved for a glass of quality wine in the evening.

I can clearly see that it was a good idea to make the checklist before leaving, and spend some time on the first day to set up the environment to my healthy habit liking. Afterwards, during the week, I wouldn't had energy for this.

Weighing food - the small kitchen scale acted like a "Evangelist's Bible" - many people at the meal talked to me about healthy life at some point. I just have to control myself to limit talking about sparkpeople-stuff. ;-)
Altough, I still don't get what is so special for others about the scale - it is so cheap (20 Euros), so easy to do, brings so much advantage - almost zero downside.

Weighing myself every morning with my Omron scale brought that reassurance that I am on a good track. I discovered also that I loose easily 1kg of water during a run-swim-run sandwich, and my weight can drain down by 2.5kg just because of water and toilet.

Some parts of the program were emotionally challangeing, and my cookie-hunger woke up - I didn't push myself too hard in those times, and just took that some pieces of chocolate and cakes to give a short comfort. However, when I was happy, I avoided the comfort food, and went for the healthy options.

I have also reached my 20 kg loss (44 lbs) mark at the end of the week, which I was happy to share in the group to celebrate. I started in Jan 2011, so in a mere 10 month, 20kg of fat were left behind.

This is the river Danube in Budapest, around 6.30am, at the start of my morning run.

The greatest surprise for me was how people are affected by my presence in the group. I noticed that the simple fact that I carry on with this healthy lifestyle, encourages others to follow. It was not even my observation, others told me, "Look Oliver, what's going - we are in the gym, we go to run, we eat fruits in the coffee break!".

Many were amazed how my body changed since May, especially my face transformed. A classmate told that my face is longer, and the muscles are toned, instead of round and loose.

This is the greatest encouragement I can imagine - all this positive feedback from others gave so much motivation to keep on, it's really inspiring.

And, I have to confirm, this Spark thing works in both direction. I get so much support here in the website, and the friends around me, just the simple fact that you and others are interested. And now I start to see that I also motivate others, just with the simple fact of doing my stuff for myself.

My learning from the week
for my healthy lifestyle is that a little preparation can make wonders for travels, and worth the effort. And being surrounded with people who also value healthy eating, like to do exercise, for a full week, encourages me a lot, even afterwards.

My learning about myself
in spark terms, is that I realized how much my body changed, and somehow my view has to change, on how I imagine myself. That inner image, on how I see myself, is still the old, 99kg me. So it can be that my body changes faster than my self-image. Crazy!

What is left unfinished
is what to do when the night's sleep is short (4h, hahha-party man!), and I have no energy to exercise the next day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZELLAZM 10/2/2011 8:04AM

    Again, a great post...and lots of good tips that I want to adopt for my trip to Switzerland in a couple of weeks. Only one trip to the buffet, for example. That's going to be hard!

Glad you got so much positive feedback! WTG on Spreading the Spark among the other conference participants, Oliver!


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GETSTRONGRRR 9/28/2011 12:57AM

    Great job....very inspirational!

I am doing the same type of Executive Education next week at the Darden School of Business.

My friends tell me that the chefs there are amazing.....danger, danger!!!

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NTSOHLTHNT 9/27/2011 6:56PM

    What has been amazing is to be able to follow your progress over the past few months. You have made some amazing changes that are now part of your life. You are doing great and you've shown us that incorporating a healthy lifestyle into all sorts of life situations isn't all that difficult to do. Where there is a will, there is a way!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ARGYLE-RUNNER 9/27/2011 3:15PM

    awesome and inspiring report of your week

thank you so much for sharing!

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KKINNEA 9/27/2011 2:58PM

    You did great sticking to your exercise and eating plans while at your training. I loved this report - you really are influencing people in a positive way!

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2nd day in the hotel - checklist

Monday, September 19, 2011

So, here I am on my course in Budapest, Hungary, 1 week sleeping and eating in a hotel.
This is my 2nd day, so here's the checklist for the start about to fit the environment to my healthy lifestyle, and to check the habits in the morning+evening. I won't repeat in the blog the habit checklist.

1. Inagurate fruit corner in my room - DONE
2. Keep small Moleskine in pockets to track food - DONE
3. Announce for the group the limited calorie budget, so encourage me healthy eating - Todo.
4. Exercise to organise swim/run - run: DONE, swim: Todo
5. Run together with others - DONE, there are already 2 groups, with 7 interested

1. Digital kitchen scale - Doing it
2. Fat% scale to measure in the morning - Doing it
3. Bring low calorie food with me (puffed rice, crisp bread) - Doing it
4. Buy fruits and vegetables - Doing it, requested at hotel
5. One calorie rich drink per day only (wine, soda, fruit juice). - Doing it, 1 glass of wine yesterday
6. One calorie rich dessert per day only - Doing it, chocolate during coffee breaks
7. Drink water/cola light/tea at coffee breaks - Doing it
8. Ask for half portion/vegetables for side dish - Doing it
9. Buffet meals - collect all, no revisit to buffet table - Doing it- This is the most difficult, but I keep it!

The kitchen scale is a funny thing - it's like a "Bible" in my hand for a the healthy lifestyle. ANYBODY sitting next to me at the meals start the conversation about healthy life, food choices, exercise, and so on. This helps me, and also helps them.
I tend to to sit close to people as meal-companions, whom look like to follow a similar pattern like me (vegetables, portion control).

I went to run in the morning with a classmate from Spain, we ran 6K together, then I continued to reach 10K for myself.
The swim is planned for the evening.

We ran here on the Danube river side, the sun was just getting up, it was amazing.

I give myself a sparkgoodie for the good start!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DORIS32 9/22/2011 6:11PM

    organization is the plan for success! doing awesome as always! I love that you organized a running group!

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ZELLAZM 9/22/2011 5:59AM

    Great post! I'm going to use some of your ideas when I go to Switzerland next month. I think I already do some of the things you mentioned, but writing them down will help me to stick to them even more consistently.

Hope the rest of your training week goes well!

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SPBETTERWAY 9/21/2011 6:16PM

    You are very organized. Success!

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NTSOHLTHNT 9/19/2011 5:59PM

    Awesome. You're really setting a great example to follow. Have a great week!

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GETSTRONGRRR 9/19/2011 10:25AM

    Wow! I am very impressed!

I'm on the road again too, but this trip should be easy. But in October I go for the same kind of Executive Education program with a great kitchen staff.

I'll use your checklist! Keep doing good!

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MAC7755 9/19/2011 9:01AM

  Wow! Good for you. I am just back from two conferences and blew it big time. I wish I had read your blog for tips. Thank you

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Umbrella before - a week on training

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tomorrow, I start a week of training (organisaitonal development, in my free time) here in Budapest. We have a package in the hotel with rooms and food all inclusive. It means "dining out" 3x a day, 7 days the week.

I remember, when I was at the first week of this course in Holland in May, how excited I was to plan my strategy to overcome this challenge of healthy life. That was my first long time on the go since I started on SP.

Now, I'm less anxious, most of the thing on that list are a strong daily or travel habit. But, I know form experience that if I get prepared, I have a much higher rate of success, even now, with all these habits.

So, let's get those objectives again on the table, with some tune-up.

1. Inaugurate a fruit corner in my hotel room after arrival.

2. Keep my small Moleskine paper copybook in my pockets to track food, enter to SP in the evening.

3. Announce (again) for the group that I have a limited calorie budget, so encourage me for drinking water, eating veg, and eating less in general.

4. Exercise: my running and swimming gear is already with me, and I have already e-mailed the hotel for swimming pools nearby, and e-mailed the swimming pools for opening hours. Running to the pool, swimming, and running back looks like a good combination to overlap time.

5. Run together with others - I already asked the group in e-mail, and many are motivated, 7:30am was proposed. Probably they will jog slowly and not every day, so I plan this as bonus exercise.

1. Digital kitchen scale to measure at least two meals (aim for breakfast and lunch).

2. Fat% scale is with me, continue to measure every morning.

3. Bring low calorie food with me like puffed rice, crisp bread, low fat milk, to replace some of the hotel food.

4. Buy fruits and vegetables to snack during the coffee breaks; also request the hotel to provide these for us.

5. One calorie rich drink per day only (wine, soda, fruit juice).

6. One calorie rich dessert per day only (chocolate cake and friends).

7. Drink water, cola light, tea during the day and coffee breaks.

8. Ask for half portion, or steamed vegetables from the restaurant as side dish.

9. Buffet meals - collect all the food I plan to eat at the beginning, and no revisit to the buffet table. Use the scale during "collecting" food to keep those portions healthy.

I have some extra ideas, too, which are optional.
1. Ask if someone wants to come to swim with me.

2. Offer others to measure their body fat% on my scale if interested.

3. Share my fruits and vegetables for the coffee break.

4. Look up a healthy restaurant for a dining out.

This list is more that I can keep in focus. So, I treat this as a check-list, the habits I can verify every morning and evening to remind myself, and adjust if necessary. The environment to reorganise is a one time task to complete on the first day (tomorrow).

I think to keep my main priority the same, as always: track food every day, even if I eat more then my budget.

Goal for the week: EAT SLOWLY.

A shot from my exercise walk tonight. Today and tomorrow is resting day, so I don't run and swim. But to have a little exercise, I skipped a few stations with the tram, and walked instead. This is the statue of Sandor PETOFI, a Hungarian poet. Basically every town and village in Hungary has a stree named Petofi.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURIE9404 9/17/2011 8:20PM

    Way to go! You definitely now have your plans and stick to what you've learned. That's a great checklist and let me know how it goes!

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Swim-run break during my long train trip

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Friday yesterday, I had a long train trip from Gleisdorf, Austria to Budapest, Hungary (3h+3h). I was wondering when and where could I swim and run.

Then, I decided to stop on half way in Szombathely, near the border in Hungary, after 3h of sitting, and make a big exercise break. So, I left my luggage at the train station, and took on my running gear, with my swim stuff in a plastic bag, and looked up the local swimming pool.

They had here great a 50m pool, and at the beginning I had the full lane just for myself. Then the pro swimmers came for training, and we amateurs had to share lanes. Watching the pro swimmers move, my feeling for a proper swimming training reinforced. They just move their legs and arms in a synchronism unimaginable for myself, and they propulse much faster with less effort. It would be great to learn how to swim properly.

Then I had a visit with a hairdresser, and after that I had my daily run. It was hot, and somehow I felt tired - usually on Fridays after a week of exercise I do feel tired.

Then, I went back to the train station to catch the next train to go forward to Budapest (another 3h sitting).

I really liked this setup, so I might do this again - instead of a long sitting of 6h in a trip, I stop somewhere to do my exercise during the day, when the pools are open. My exercise is in, and sitting in the train is also much easier, I'm still fresh and can read or do whatever I want even during the second leg of the trip.

Here's a pic from Szombathely, from the run.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2GOALS 9/17/2011 1:30PM

    I really love seeing the phots from your side of the world. Thank you for sharing them often. Are you thinking of taking swim lessons to perfect your strokes? You should go for it!

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NTSOHLTHNT 9/17/2011 11:16AM

    What a great way to get your exercise in. That's so cool! I wouldn't have thought of doing that. Although I know how to swim, I don't do it, because I wouldn't be caught dead in a swimsuit :-). You always have such great ideas for getting your workouts in though. Way to go!!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 9/17/2011 8:26AM

    Wow, what a great idea!

I've found it very helpful to watch and learn from people with exercising form....not too many opportunities to do this with pro-swimmers, so take advantage of it.

Can you hire a swim coach for a few lessons? It might be helpful. I did this for weight training and found that my form for many exercises have been wrong. He corrected them and I now I do them much better, with less pain, and get more benfit

Good luck!

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