Dumbbells in the gym

Highlights of winter 2024

We’re into the last days of March, so let’s celebrate spring by doing a wrap-up post about the winter.

Sadly this winter has been the most miserable winter since we moved to Ireland. Normally, the weather is very variable here with days of rain, days of sunshine, milder, colder etc. A friend of mine thinks that this is a reason why Irish people are so friendly – if it’s a miserable day, there’s always hope for something better later in the week!

But this winter had a period of milder weather in January, a few scattered good days in February but otherwise mostly COLD, around freezing temperatures, even into just before St Patrick’s day (which was very nice). The sun can shine in all its glory but if it’s around 4 degrees and below for too long, I’ll be grumpy and uninspired.

So now when we got the weather out of the way, let’s talk about all the good things!

This winter was all about fitness and strength gains

Fitness-wise, this has been a fabulous winter. I’ve had two big bummers of flu/cold viruses and I haven’t been out walking much, but in the gym – I’ve done some really good things.

Perhaps because I haven’t done much else in life, I’ve been able to go all in with strength training.

I’m back on track after my injury, and since Christmas I’ve had some amazing development with both strength and muscle gains. I’ve had two periods of heavier lifting than usual and after these, I’ve been able to up my weights on several exercises, and in January I did a milestone PB – a 50 kg barbell squat shortly before my 50th birthday.

During the winter I also decided to finally work on my struggles with the Bulgarian split squats. I’ve been doing Bulgarian split squats every day (except a few days when I was sick) during March, and have been making progress. I would have needed to work more on balance separately, but I’m more confident at least with lower weight, and I feel stronger around the hips. If you follow me on my fitness Instagram account you’ll know all about this – and you probably can’t wait for this challenge to stop, haha!

In the spring, I need to get back to walking. The Wicklow mountains are calling and I miss going for walks!

We celebrated 5 years in Ireland

On the 4th of February, it was 5 years since we landed with cat and all to live in Ireland. These years have both flown by and seemed like they passed very slowly. So much has happened! A pandemic, threats about war, threats about everything else, but also – a turnaround towards an active and healthier lifestyle which turned into a passion for fitness and training, my husband losing 20 kgs and training for marathons, investing in music lessons and improving music skills, doing our own gigs, new friends, new house and garden… lots of good things and we try to focus on them rather than the bad.

We celebrated by going to Cork and visit a whiskey bar and then a good barbecue restaurant.

It was an odd evening because it turned out this was the very last evening the restaurant was open, they were going to close permanently. This was very sad news because it was a fantastic restaurant. The food was great and they had a good selection of American whiskeys too. I’m definitely not a fan of American whiskey but I got to talk to their “whiskey connoisseur” who offered me to taste American single malt. That was a treat!

Photography… and the lack thereof

Most of you know that I love photography. But summer is always my favourite season for photography, and after being disabled last summer, I never really got back into the swing of things with the camera. During the winter I’ve taken some photos at gigs and a few others during walks to a local beach, but that’s about it and I’m still very much outside the swing of things.

But I miss a good photography session! What I need is to go out – anywhere – with the camera, without plans, look around me, and take photos of what I like, however I like it, just for the pleasure. I don’t even know what I like to shoot anymore!

A broken tripod may open up new ideas…. I’ve never been a fan of tripods. I’ve never invested in a proper one, I’ve had two cheap and bad ones and one lovely Gorillapod that my brother-in-law gave me years ago and that I love dearly, but it’s too small to serve me in any situation.

Now recently, the least bad of my two bad tripods finally broke. My other bad tripod is just TOO bad. So now finally I’ve decided to get a proper tripod that actually works.

A good tripod opens up a new world of possibilities. I’m not into the everything-has-to-be-long-exposure hype, but there are generally a lot of cool things you can do if you have a tripod. For example, I’ve been dreaming about photographing light trails for years.

For next winter, I’ll make plans for indoor photography, and prepare so that I’ll have necessary gear. I need to get the camera going during the winter too.

I celebrated my 50th birthday

In February I turned 50 years old. I didn’t see it as anything big until the day came, and it sparked a lot of reflections about life, people in my life, things i’ve experienced, and what I have in my life now to be grateful for. It made me set priorities for the next half of my life where the focus is to ditch the self-doubt and enjoy life more. I wrote a blog post about it here.

Music in the pubs

We’ve continued to play weekly in a local pub, but honestly I’ve felt uninspired and like in a slumber, waiting for spring to come. Still, these evenings are always enjoyable. We means my husband and me, and we have a percussion player with us, he plays bodhrán, spoons, egg and jawharp and he is a very nice addition to the session. He keeps the mood up and the laughs flowing.

Sometimes there’s also a banjo player there who is a fine singer and plays Irish tunes – this gives a lovely variety. We’re learning Irish tunes but are not good enough at them yet to bring them to our gigs.

We’ll enjoy a week in Spain shortly and after that I’ve promised myself to add music practice to my weekly schedule. I make fitness happen also when I’m busy or uninspired, so why not music? I’ve been slacking for too long with practising my instruments, or singing.

How was your winter? How do you keep your mood up during the cold and dark season?

16 responses to “Highlights of winter 2024”

  1. Deborah Brooks avatar

    Going all in with strength training really does feel good. I always feel much more confident too when I feel like I am strong. Hope those gains continue into spring!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, long may they continue! Now sadly I haven’t been able to go to the gym for a while because I was ill, but I’m looking forward to some good walks in Spain soon, and then when we come back I’ll be back to proper training.

  2. Darlene S Cardillo avatar

    Winter is my least favorite season… I love flowers and tress in bloom and sunshine.

    Your strength training is pretty impressive… at least to me.

    Hope you get back to walking and I get to see more of your amazing photos.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I couldn’t agree more about winter! Flowers, green leaves and mild temperatures are my cup of tea.
      Regarding strength training, sometimes it feels unreal thinking about what I lift. If someone told me just 6 months ago that I would squat 50 kgs before my birthday, I would have laughed at them.
      It’s very empowering though, seeing how far I’ve come.
      Walking will definitely happen… it’s in my schedule this coming week.

  3. Denyse Whelan avatar

    Great catch up! Love how life is going for you & husband now 5 years in Ireland!
    Lovely to know you are doing well! Congratulations again on turning 50!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks Denyse! It’s been an overwhelming but mostly good time. Now we’re going into spring and summer… hopefully all will continue going well.

  4. Lindsay avatar

    Oh, I love how you looked back at the whole season! A birthday and 5 years in Ireland and all those Bulgarian split squats – so amazing! Winter is hard for me – it’s so dark and cold; I forget how just getting outside (and some sun, if it’s there!) can make such a difference!

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, getting out really makes a difference, but who wants to do that when it’s freezing and dark? If it’s warm enough I’m not bothered about rain, clouds etc.. but just can’t make myself going out for walk if it’s too cold (unless it’s for taking myself from place A to B). But when we suddenly get a nice milder day, it feels like a miracle and I see the world totally differently! I’m so happy we’re into spring now.

  5. Joanne Tracey avatar

    Happy birthday for February, congratulations on being in Ireland for 5 years but mostly a big yay to your fitness achievements. I just found your fitness Insta account and … respect!
    I giggled to myself when you said you’re looking forward to spring and summer for walking and photography – I’m the opposite. It’s winter for me – too many snakes on the tracks in summer & way too hot – and the light is too harsh.

    1. Susanne avatar

      But you have a bit more than 2 degrees in the winter, I guess! I will never be able to enjoy the outdoors in cold weather. Regarding the light, I realised this winter that the winter light here is much harsher than during other seasons… it makes everything look bleak. And when it’s cloudy, everything becomes a dull blurry mess! In the summer there are all sorts of plants and colours out there (happy to have the gorse in bloom in the winter though) and everything is more beautiful.
      Thanks for your encouragement about the fitness achievements… I’ve been ill lately but can’t wait to get back to it.

  6. Janet Alcorn avatar

    A belated happy 50th! And congrats on your fitness gains. It’s so inspiring to see someone in my same decade of life kicking butt at the gym. I’m really looking forward to getting back into my exercise routine as soon as I’m fully recovered from COVID. Who’da thought I’d miss the gym? 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      I just read some statistics that women in midlife are the biggest demographics that exercise/train regularly! Isn’t that cool? And it makes me glad because women in midlife is also the group of people who need it most because women lose more muscle as a part of ageing, and then there’s the bone issue, etc. I’m going to make a tank top soon with a print that says “I’m too old to not lift weights”. 😀
      Good to hear you’re into it also and I hope you recover asap.

  7. Debbie Harris avatar

    So good to read your update on winter Susanne, your weight training is going so well. I’ve also been doing weights and am amazed at how much I’ve improved in a relatively short time and I’m 63, it has improved me in so many other ways too! It’s so good for us in this age/lifestyle.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi Debbie, I’m sorry for the delayed response, I just came home from Spain. Yes, isn’t it amazing how good training can give fast improvements? And so important for us as we age, after 50 (or earlier, really) we’re simply too old to not lift weights!

  8. Anne avatar

    You know I admire your dedication to fitness, cross training, and strength. Even more, I admire you living your life YOUR way. You really own it, and it shows.
    I hope that the coming weeks bring more opportunities for photos and walks and sunshine. Perhaps one of these days, you’ll be able to sit in the sun… in Ireland, not Spain. 😉

    1. Susanne avatar

      I just wish I started owning my life decades earlier! But better late than never, I guess.
      After the recent storm, the weather is still very unstable and sunshine is very absent, but.. there’s always hope, and at least now it’s warm enough to enjoy going for walks.

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