Sauna, So What?

Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.

What do you think of when when you think of Germany?

  • Wurst
  • Beer
  • A pretty successful national football team
  • That bloke with a funny-looking moustache and haircut… cough, cough
  • Come on now, admit it… Nudity

Germany is famous/notorious for “everyone getting their kit off at the first opportunity.”  Actually, that’s not quite the truth.  Walk down any German high street, and everyone is fully clothed.  Sit on any German train, and they are all fully clothed, even during a heatwave like we have today, temperatures of 30+ degrees c.

Whereas Germany does have the FKK (Freikörperkultur – “free body culture”) beaches and sections of the park, it’s still the minority of Germans who do go there.  (Well, as far as I am aware.  I admit, I have not done a scientific survey of my colleagues and neighbours.)  Most Germans will still wear their swimming costume, bikini or trunks on when they go sunbathing.

There is, however, one exception.  Woe betide you if you break this rule.  Germans go au naturel when they sit in the sauna.  Now it’s time for me to answer all the FAQ’s that I get from Brits.

  1. Phew phoar!  No, I have never got, cough, cough, “excited” in the sauna.
  2. No, it is not at all erotic.
  3. No, after my first visit to a German sauna, I did not rush out to buy a season ticket.
  4. Sex gods and goddesses do not visit the sauna.  Most German sauna-goers are not by any means salad-dodgers.  However, they tend to eat those salads on top of their cheeseburger, large Pommis mit weiss, bratwurst, and washed down with a few gallons of beer, followed by a large piece of Black Forest gateau.  Most of them make me look slightly anorexic.
  5. No, I have never met my bank manager/next-door neighbour/that lady who works down the local cafe, while sitting minding my own business down the sauna.
  6. No, I do not make sure I have a good look, phoar…

What impressese me is how businesslike, practical and logical Germans are about the whole business of sitting in the sauna:

  • in the buff
  • in your birthday suit
  • in the nip (Irish English expression)
  • au naturel
  • starkers
  • insert your favourite euphemism

My favourite sauna is the infra-red sauna at mine and Schatz’ favourite health farm.  45 degrees warmth and the infrared warms those sore joints.  Next to it is the Tecaldarium, with tiles rather than wooden slats.  Ideal if you have back or joint pains.

So what happens if you do enter the sauna in clothes, eg bikini or swim shorts?

Answer: One of the workers will rush into the sauna at the speed of a thousand leaping gazelles, shout at you, double you out of the sauna and tell you that you are to:

  • Undress immediately
  • Shower
  • Re-enter the sauna

…which has to be much more embarrassing than being seen naked in the sauna would have been.

Oh yes, once you do enter the sauna, you must-  by tradition – call out a mighty, cheery “Halloooooooooo!” to all the gathered textilfreie people on the slats (or tiles).

I have to say I find the German attitude to be a lot more mature than the British, rather giggly-girl, attitude towards people taking all their clothes off.  And believe me, after the first three nanoseconds, you really, really don’t bat an eyelid.  You just end up sitting in silence if everyone else is silent, or you join in the conversation about the weather, Brexit, Helmut Kohl, etc.

Have a textilfreier day, won’t you!

sauna-sign

Blood sugar diet: day 39 of 56

Today’s statistics:

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 120.2kg
  • Today: 118.3kg

That’s 4.1kg off in four weeks.  I am happy.

So what had happened?  A week ago I had blipped upwards due to a slack weekend.  I had had food porn – Irish English breakfast – down the Irish pub in the city centre, bread rolls and a few cocktails.  No regrets.  It’s a way of eating, not a diet.  I now know after several weeks on this diet/WoE, that as soon as I get back on track without making anny big fuss, the weight comes off, generally within 3-5 days.

On a positive point, friends have started noticing my weight loss, asking what diet I am trying.  Two of them have ordered the book and have started within the last fortnight.

“If Ginge in Germany can manage it, so can I.”

And my new Marmite cycling top fits me just nicely.  It even has a nice jar-like shape.  Not long now till the Tour de France starts in Düsseldorf.  Los!

marmite

Have a love it-or-hate-it day, won’t you!

 

Blood sugar diet: day 29 of 56

Today’s statistics:

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 120.7kg
  • Today: 118.8kg

That’s 3.6kg off in four weeks.  I am happy.

A few observations.

  1. Last week I spent a long weekend at Schatz’, celebrating her birthday.  Over two or three days I ate a big pack of crisps (paprika flavour, yum) as well as eating lots of pizza and drinking several cocktail.  A blip on Sunday evening: 121.4kg.  I delayed weekly weigh-in by one day till today.  I know from past experience that if I over-eat, it takes 48 hours to lose the excess weight.  Hey presto!  Today it was my lowest weight since I started the diet, and indeed my lowest weight for several years.
  2. While walking past a shop window yesterday evening, I noticed my belly had definitely shrunk.  Still big, but not kettle drum shape now.  Obviously still a long way to go.  But the longest journey consists of but single steps.

Everyone keeps telling me:

Keep it up!

Au contraire!  I say:

Keep it down!

Finally, by no means am I a communist.  Only my hair is red, but just once let me leave you with this thought.

zitat-vorwarts-immer-ruckwarts-nimmer-erich-honecker-220507

Have a comradely day, won’t you!

Blood sugar diet: day 22 of 56

What have I learnt so far?

  1. Don’t panic if you have a blip.  Stay focussed.  Start afresh.  One week’s weight gain or loss is, in any event, but a small step when you remember it took years to put the weight on.
  2. The 72-hour rule of thumb.  If I have had a blip, it takes about me about 3 days for the “blip weight” to pass out of my body.  (I won’t get too scatalogical here…)
  3. If you do have a blip one week, don’t starve yourself.  Just go back to what you were doing that was helping you to lose weight.  Last week I had a few too many Haribos and Balisto snacks, probably about 3000 calories worth, equalling about 0.5kg, which is what I put on last week.  This week so far I have had literally three, maybe four, Haribo pieces.
  4. If you are tempted to have sweet things, have an ice cream, rather than sweets.  A Magnum ice cream bar has “only” 259 calories and is more filling than a pack of wine gums.  The ice cream is also quite a nice dessert after a salad lunch.
  5. Do some exercise in the evening.  The last two evenings Düsseldorf has enjoyed glorious sunshine.  I have made the most of it.  I’ve already caught the sun after only 20 minutes at lunchtime today.  (Well, what do you expect from a redhead?)  Two 50-minute cycle rides to explore and recce new routes.  I’ve also found a new “salmonellaburger van”, where I can stop off for a coffee.  Another advantage of cycling is this: you can’t comfort-eat while you are cycling – especially if you don’t bring any money with you.  (“Lead us not into temptation.”)  The Union Flag cycling top still turns heads.

Finally, here is a pic of me in my favourite cycling top, back in 1998 in God’s Country, the Yorkshire Dales.  Dennis the Menace from The Beano comic.

Dennis

Have an un-menacing day, won’t you!

Praise in public, rebuke in private…

So, a break from articles about the diet.

Church matters.  Specifically house group.

Once a week I attend house group with other members of church.  Yesterday we started looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Yesterday evening Deckname Markus sat next to me, as he did the previous house group session.  Deckname Markushas, at the last two sessions, spoken really loudly all the way through the last sessions.

The effects:

  1. I had to put my hands my ears whenever he was speaking.
  2. I whispered in his ear, “Could you speak more quietly please.”  (Just once.  He then spoke quieter for a sentence, then WENT BACK TO FULL VOLUME a few seconds later.)
  3. Rather than stop for a cuppa and small talk, in the great tradition of the Sunday newspaper reporters, I “made my excuses and left,” shoes on, heading down the stairs from the 3rd floor and to the nearest taxi for home, solitude and the sound of silence.

Another house group member also “had to dash.”  (British euphemism: “I don’t have to dash, but I don’t want to stay here any longer tonight.”)

I asked that person:

Does Deckname Markus work with old people, or is he hard of hearing?

Reply:

Phew, yes, he was talking really loudly today!

Today I bit the bullet.   I sent our man an SMS, as low-key as possible:

 Could you talk a bit quieter at house group please?  The last two times you were so loud, I had to cover my ears when I was sitting next to you.  Danke Dir!

Polite, friendly and zum Punkt.

This afternoon a reply came back.  I’ll translate from the German.

I hate SMS.  It’s a terrible form of communication.

I phoned Schatz to seek her opinion, as she understands the German Weltanschauung better than I do.  She has a good expression.  “We must talk about the blue elephant in the room.”  I rang Deckname Markus to try placate him and explain there was no malice intended.

He admitted that is one of his weaknesses, but still took umbrage at my texting him.

So, folks, straight question.  What should I have done?

Have a low-decibel day, won’t you!

Ears

Blood sugar diet: day 15 of 56

So, the past weekend.  I allowed the shackles to come off a bit.  Over the weekend, I ate white bread rolls, and I also had curry twice.  Oh, and a couple of bottles of beer.  I probably blipped up a bit on weight, but on Monday I was back in the groove today.  I tend to think of it as being analogous to a prisoner going on weekend leave and returning to HMP Wherever.  (Vocab note: HMP – Her Majesty’s Prison.)

Since the weekend I have been as good as gold, albeit with about ten Haribo sweets altogether.  I had been tempted to eat a Halbeshänchen (half a rotisserie chicken) on the way to a meeting yesterday evening, but instead chose to enjoy a nice home-made omelette (mushroom, ham and sliced gouda cheese – most pleasing to the palate).

Yesterday I cycled to a church meeting in glorious sunshine.  I cycled back in the dark.  I wore my Union Jack Flag cycling top and Union Flag helmet.  The rationale was not patriotism, but somewhat more prosaic.  One month ago, I could not get that top on.  Well, maybe I could have, but I would have done a very good impression of Doctor David Banner turning into the Incredible Hulk, with the slow rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-rip sound of shirt material slowly tearing.

Yesterday evening the top fitted me, albeit slightly tightly, but it certainly came down below my belly button.  I shall keep wearing the top every time I go cycling to measure progress in terms of looser clothes, as well as scales being friendlier.

Here I am in Union Flab Flag clothing.  It turned a few heads as joggers and cyclists headed past me along the banks of the River Rhine…

UnionFlagPic

Have a patriotic day, won’t you!

Blood Sugar Diet: Day 7 of 56

So, here we go. I have a confession to make. I deviated from the strict programme on the weekend.

We have sinned in thought and word and deed…”

Saturday

Breakfast consisted of two cheese bread rolls (white bread), filled with turkey slices, slice of hard-boiled egg, tomato and lettuce, washed down with a cup of coffee. By no means ideal. However, I am not going to do self-flagellation about it. I had no cravings or hunger pangs for carbs. I just wanted to sit down in my local café, write my diary, have my breakfast and then go. I actually enjoyed my breakfast. However, an hour after eating the rolls, I did feel quite drowsy for nearly an hour. Maybe my body has become averse to bad carbs like processed white bread?

Lunch was Irish (English) breakfast down the Irish pub in the city centre. That was most pleasing to the palate. Arguably it was, notwithstanding portions, not too horrific. I don’t plan to have the all-day breakfast every day. Probably once a quarter. I don’t have the cravings for it.

Evening meal was dinner at the vicarage. Asparagus, creamy potatoes, ham slices, followed by strawberry cake, and washed down with a glass of white wine (Spanish, €7.99 from Kaisers supermarket).

Sunday

Breakfast: two croissants and a coffee at a Bäckerei near church.

Lunch: shared church lunch, a bit of curry, rice, casserole and ginger cake. I enjoyed it.

In the afternoon I was invited out for coffee and biscuits. I enjoyed the biscuits, too. Home-made.

Evening: Stopped off at Turkish café and had doner kebab with a small bottle of Coke zero. My first cola in a week. It tasted really, really nice, I have to say.

Monday (today)

Breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs, with a small amount of Marmite dabbed on to add flavour.

Lunch: bowl of salad in the canteen.

Evening meal: Hallbeshaenchen: half a roast chicken.followed by a Pink Lady apple.

In the evening I attended a lengthy meeting from 20:00 till gone 22:00. There I let my guard down (and the side down), by succumbing to temptation to eat biscuits, probably about ten of them.

Observations

Yes, I did not follow the programme on the weekend. I did try carbs. What have I learnt?

  1. I don’t have cravings for carbs. White bread makes me very drowsy. Next time I will order omelette down my local café, which is more satisfying anyway.
  2. All-day breakfasts are delicious. Next time I will ask for it without the bread. Next time will not be till t’other side of the 8-week diet. (I was showing a colleague round the city centre anyway. Normally I’d have been alone or with Schatz, having a coffee and small lunch together.)
  3. Home-made biscuits are moreish. All biscuits are moreish. Next time I am offered some, I will politely decline.
  4. I feel no shame about vicarage dinner or church lunch. I will not be anal retentive about diet if invited to dinner. I get invited to dinner once every three months anyway. Church lunch I attend once every six months.
  5. Sunday evening meal: next time I’ll bring a packed evening meal to eat on the train when I head home from evening service, or I’ll keep something healthy at home for when I get back to “base.
  6. Tonight I was at a meeting of Church Council. I had brought the tea and biscuits. I should not have touched the biscuits. One biscuit becomes 2, 3, 4… 10 biscuits.

Excuses, excuses? Thin end of the wedge? No. Please spare me the righteous indignation. I applied a variant of the 5:2 rule – 5 days “on-task”, 2 days not on-task. Today, without hesitation or difficulty, I am back on track. Shrug shoulders, move on.

As Erich Honecker once said:

Vorwärts immer, rückwärts nimmer!

Next checkpoint is on day 10: check-up with GP when I found out 3-monthly blood sugar score. Watch this space…

Have an appetising day, won’t you!