REVIEW | INSANITY MAX: 30

No gym membership? No equipment? No problem! Insanity Max: 30 is an absolutely killer workout program designed for those with little time, no equipment, but a strong desire to make a change.

I stream my workouts on my phone through Beachbody on Demand. It is essentially the Netflix of the fitness industry. Every single Beachbody program is on Beachbody on Demand, so you can easily switch it up, find an active rest workout, a quick ab workout, or something you can do with your kids! I could not recommend having Beachbody on Demand more!

I recently finished my first ever run through of Insanity Max: 30 and would love to share my opinion and experience with you today!

WHAT IS INSANITY MAX: 30?

Insanity Max: 30 is a 60-day program consisting of 2 different sets of workouts, Round 1 and Round 2. There are 5 workouts a week, an optional active rest day workout, and quick core workout. While each individual workout has a different focus – power, strength, cardio, intervals – one thing remains consistent throughout the program: you will SWEAT. I am not talking a barely there sweat, I am talking a soaked sports bra, sweat dripping off your nose, I need 5 towels kind of sweat.

The workouts have short 30-second breaks in between and operate on the principle of “maxing out”. Shaun T, the phenomenal creator of this program, encourages you to have a sheet of paper where you record your “max out” time. This means, the time into the workout where you cannot keep up with the pace anymore. This time is used to help you measure your progress as you work through the program.

This program not only demands physical fitness but it also pushes you mentally. You learn to push farther than you thought you could and feel incredibly accomplished when you reach the end.

DID I LIKE IT?

loved Insanity Max: 30. I had heard others rave about it, I loved the aspect of 30-minute workouts and no equipment, so I figured I would give it a shot. Initially, my body was shocked. I had never sweat this much in my life. I maxed out super early those first few weeks, but by week 4 of Round 1, I could do it! Then Round 2 got me back down off of my high horse very quickly, but by the end, those workouts had also become much more doable.

Also, Shaun T is an incredible trainer. Even though he was behind a screen, it felt like he was right there pushing me to go further. His energy made the workouts go by so quickly, that I would be surprised that I was already done!

WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS DID I MAKE?

To be honest, up until this program I never tracked my progress. I would always take a “before” photo, but would never follow through with an “after”. Scales are also not my thing, so I was not weighing myself. I just based my progress off of how I felt – which can change in a flash! But since I am sharing my journey publicly these days, I knew I needed to do a classic “transformation photo” and holy smokes, what a great surprise!

Progress Picture
*Low quality photo, high quality results – yay for iPhone photos!

I noticed all of the little things. My pants fit looser, I did not have to suck in anymore, I could tighten my belt a hole. But the photos put a whole new perspective to it for me. I also stepped on the scale for the first time in a while and have gone down about 10 pounds since starting with Beachbody programs. So while my change is in no way crazy dramatic, I am really happy with it!

HOW DO I GET MY HANDS ON THAT PROGRAM?!

That’s easy – get a hold of me! Comment below, email me, find me on Facebook or Instagram, head over to my “Get Healthy with Me” page! I am here to help get you set up!

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE! Next week is SHAUN WEEK! Shaun T, the creator of this very program is launching 7 brand new workouts on Monday! My dear coach and mentor, Nadia, and I are running a FREE group next week and we can all feel the burn that Shaun T will most definitely put us through. So get ahold of me! I will add you to the group and we can have a big Shaun T Week party 🙂

AND the Netflix of the fitness industry, Beachbody on Demand, is also on sale through August! It is such a steal right now, so be sure to get your hands on it by the end of August. I too can help you with that 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this different kind of post! As a coach, I am here to add value to your life. This program got me really far and I am sure it could get you far too! I cannot wait to continue my journey!

What are your favorite ways to stay fit and healthy?

With love,

Lena Marie

P.S. A post about my nutrition will be up soon!

EXPLORE WITH ME | ZUGSPITZE

Mountains

The Popp family took on another adventure last weekend, this time to the Zugspitze! The Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany and most definitely worth a visit.

You may be wondering how the heck we have had the time to do all of this and the answer is public holidays! The state of Germany that we live in, Baden-Württemberg, has a whopping 12 public holidays a year. Several are based on the church calendar. This is great for everyone in the workforce, like my parents, because within the last 6 weeks they have only had to work one full work week. How crazy is that?! But, this opens up a great opportunity to go sightseeing!

Prior to going to the Zugspitze, you need to decide which side you want to go up on. Since it straddles the German, Austrian border you can either ascend on the German or Austrian side. Both sides have pros and cons. We ended up going with the German side because we did not want to have to deal with toll roads. There is also a stunning lake, the Eibsee, on the German side that I wanted to visit. Conveniently there is a train station by the lake from which you can ascend the mountain. So German side it is!

You can find all of the train station information to plan your trip here

On Saturday, May 27th, we piled into the car at 6 a.m. and started the 4-hour drive to the Zugspitzbahn Eibsee (train station near the Eibsee). From the moment the sun started peaking it was clear that we picked a stunning day for this trip. As we neared the train station the mountains jutted into the horizon and suddenly it became apparent how little we people really are.

Around 10 we made it to the train station. The Zugspitze was looming over us and I could catch my first glimpse of the Eibsee through the trees. It was nice and warm out, but we knew it would quickly get cold as we ventured to the top, so we changed out of our sandals into hiking shoes, packed up our sweatshirts and I grabbed my camera.

We had informed ourselves ahead of time about ticket prices, and they are definitely not cheap. But, at the moment they are building a new cable car, they are renovating the look-out platforms at the top, and they obviously need to ensure the safety for everyone. That costs big money, so the tickets, in my opinion, are justifiable. Off we were to wait for the next train to come through.

Ticket
Waiting for the cogwheel train to the top!

The way that it works is that you take the cogwheel train to the Glacier Station and from there you can get onto a cable car to ascend to the tippy top.

Train
The cogwheel train that takes you to the Glacier Station!

The train came, we found ourselves spots to hang onto and off we were! Unfortunately, the majority of the train ride is through a tunnel. We did not get to see much of how the environment changes the higher you get. BUT, in December they are opening a new cable car to the top from the Eibsee Station where you will be able to see it all!

A quick tip – the ride to the top is about 30-40 minutes and obviously, it’s steep! There are train stations ahead of the Eibsee Station which meant that all of the seats were already taken. If you want to ensure yourself a seat, especially in the busy season, I would recommend getting on the train earlier than we did. 

Cable car
One of the cable cars going down the Austrian side!

We arrived at the Glacier station and walked to where the cable car departs from. After waiting a couple of minutes the next cable car arrived and we squished into it with what seems like 30-40 other people. It is a little nerve-wracking since we are literally hanging from a cable, but thankfully it’s a speedy trip of maybe 7 minutes. Upon getting the top we had to find our way out of the building and when we did… wow.

Summit of the Zugspitze
The gold cross represents the tippy top!

We could not have chosen a better day to take this trip. There was not a cloud in the sky, you could see for miles and miles on end, the temperatures were mild, the sun was pounding down on us, and it was just breathtaking.

Birdseye view of the Eibsee
The Eibsee from the top!

We spent a while wandering around all of the platforms and appreciating the view from each and every angle. Funnily enough, you can actually cross the border and venture over onto the Austrian platforms too. And from there you have a killer view of the Eibsee! By now we were pretty famished. The Austrian side has a self-serve restaurant where we got ourselves a hearty meal. Bratwurst, french fries and apple strudel for dessert! Basically a heart attack in one meal, but this was not an everyday experience!

Standing on the glacier in a tank top
Standing on the glacier!

After lunch, we kept walking around and then took the cable car back down to the Glacier Station. Here you can ski, sled, whatever you want. The temperatures were so warm, that I was in my tank top while trampling around in the snow! The view was just absolutely insane.

After seeing everything that we wanted to see we headed back to the cogwheel train and headed down. This time we were able to snag some seats, which made the ride much more comfortable. At the bottom, we changed back into our summer shoes and ventured down to the Eibsee.

Lake
Eibsee, nestled in the mountains!

It is a beautiful lake nestled in between the mountain peaks. As the weather was so nice there were people paddle boarding, paddle boating, swimming, and basking in the sun everywhere. The water was definitely comparable to Lake Michigan temperatures, but SO rocky! I wanted to swim, but there was nowhere to change, we needed to get back on the road, and there were just so many people. So yes, the lake is gorgeous, but I could not find the secret spot the Pinteresters know for a photo!

Ice cream cone
An ice cream cone was a must on a hot day!

After an ice cream cone to “cool off” we piled back into the car around 4:30 and headed back home. We made it home in time to catch a TV show we all wanted to watch, eat a more nutritious meal and get a good nights sleep.

Family
So happy I don’t even care about my double chin!

It was an amazing day trip, and definitely a place you should visit if you can. We could not have chosen a better day for this adventure and I am so glad that my parents and I could do this together.

So 2 things to take away from this post:

  1. Take advantage of days off and go explore the place you call home!
  2. The Zugspitze is stunning and totally worth a visit if you are in the area!

Now I can say I have been on the highest point in Germany AND the Northernmost point.

What do you like doing when you have a long holiday weekend?

With love,

Lena Marie

LENA MARIE LOVES | MAY 2017

Standing in the sunset on Sylt

May has officially come to an end. It was a busy month, but good busy. My semester is over half way mark and the end of semester stress is aggregating, but it’s nothing that my May memories cannot improve! 🙂

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

My brand new Adidas Gazelle shoes in the color ice purple! I have a confession: I have fallen victim to a trend. Typically, I try to hold off on trends because I like going my own way, but after a while, they do rub off on me. It seems like Adidas sneakers are everywhere these days. So, I caved and started looking at them myself. I chose these because I personally love that they are suede! The shiny, vinyl-like look of the Superstars is not my thing. I also love this color. I gravitate towards girly colors and the shade ice purple was a very neutral, understated girly tone that I loved. Plus, they are very versatile. I can dress them up with jeans, white denim or black denim or I can channel the athleisure look with leggings.

At the beginning of the month, I also added a new Essie polish to my collection that became my tone for May called “not just a pretty face“. It is a really pretty pink nude tone that says summertime without being in your face.

TO EXERCISE…

By doing Insanity Max 30 and getting OUTSIDE! I finished up Insanity Max 30 midway through the month and chose to measure my progress by taking progress photos! I just posted them on Instagram and Facebook a few days ago! What surprised me the most was the difference between the two photos. I knew I had lost some weight, but the visible difference was eye opening! I just was not aware of the extra weight I had been carrying around when I started.

This month I also spent a lot of time outdoors. While on vacation we spent a lot of time hiking and biking. Plus, with the weather being so lovely, I try to walk places whenever possible!

TO USE…

The Clinique Sonic System, a facial cleansing brush! My skincare routine has stayed pretty much the same, but instead of using my hands to wash my face I now use this brush and I am in LOVE! I did not think my skin could get any softer than when I use an exfoliating face wash, but I was so wrong! This brush really deep cleans my skin, gets all of the dirt and makeup off, and leaves my skin so incredibly smooth.

I use the Acne Solutions Brush Head because I have acne prone skin! I love that there are firm bristles at the top made for your t-zone and the softer bristles at the bottom, made for your cheeks. Washing my face is now something I actually look forward to!

TO READ…

No Excuses! by Brian Tracy! I have another confession to make: I broke my new year’s resolution of reading a book a month… I just started this book a few days ago and have not even made it a quarter of the way through, but I am already in love. It is about the power of self-discipline and even in the first few chapters, has been really eye opening for me. While I would not call myself lazy, I definitely don’t push myself as hard as I possibly can. Yet I want to be successful…

One of my favorite quotes in the book so far is “successful people are willing to pay the price, whatever it is and for as long as it takes, until they achieve the results they desire.” I know I am willing to pay the price, so now I just need to do it!

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

Being able to travel with my family! Family life has changed a lot throughout the last few years. From age 5 to 18 my parents gave up everything to take care of others. The vacations we took were to visit family in Germany or maybe a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Yet they instilled into me the value of seeing and experiencing the world. Upon moving to Germany my parents were forced to reinvent themselves. My dad jumped into a new career and my mom went to school to be able to practice her new career. Throughout it all, they supported my educational endeavors, failures, long stints in the US, and were always there for me. Now, we have found ourselves in this big adventure called life and have the opportunity to catch up on family trips. I am extremely thankful for this time with my family before I take the giant leap into leading a life and a future family of my own.

THESE 5 MOMENTS…

As you may have noticed, the “Lena Maries Week” posts are no more. They got old to write, felt like an obstacle I had to overcome every Sunday and I do not think many people cared about what I did every week! Instead, I will highlight my 5 favorite moments of the month in my monthly round-up posts! I hope you like this!

  1. May 6. Meeting up with our old neighbor in Hamburg, Germany before kicking off our week long vacation on Sylt! Check out this blog post to read all about the lovely week we had!
  2. May 11. Out of our whole vacation, I think this day was my favorite. We spent the day biking the island and finished off the day biking along the water. This scene remains vivid in my memory because it just hammered home that I belong wherever water is.
  3. May 21. After several weeks of not seeing each other, I met up with my friend Carla to shoot some photos for our blogs and Instagram pages. I had so much fun taking photos, catching up, and working out together. I feel so lucky to have met such lovely people here!
  4. May 26. My parents and I spent the day running errands in Stuttgart together. My mom picked out a new pair of glasses, I found some new clothes, and we enjoyed gelato on the Schloßplatz together. It made running errands fun and again, this is not something we have always been able to do together!
  5. May 27. We took a day trip to the Zugspitze, which is the highest point in Germany! We had great weather, an impeccable view, and I could cross another thing off of my bucket list!

What did you love throughout the month of May? I hope the month of June is off to a great start for you all!

With love,

Lena Marie

3 WAYS TO MEASURE PROGRESS WITHOUT THE SCALE

Planking

It would be a lie if I said I worked out to feel awesome and did not care about physical progress. Because I do, just like most of you too! But the one stigma I despise is that it is all about losing a certain amount of pounds. There is so much more to our personal heath and fitness journeys than a few numbers on a scale.

Last week I finished up my first ever round of Insanity Max 30! I absolutely loved the 30-minute workouts, the energy Shaun T exudes throughout the program, and the change up of the workouts midway through. As is natural upon finishing up a workout program, I wanted to see what kind of progress I made. So here are 3 ways that I  measured my progress WITHOUT that gosh darn scale!

PROGRESS PICTURES

Log onto Instagram and we see these everywhere! And there is a good reason as to why and that’s because we can actually SEE the change in our bodies. A lot of us work out to improve our physical appearance and photos are the best way to document this.

On day one throw on some tight fitting clothes or a bikini, find good lighting and take your “before” photos. On the last day replicate your day one photos – same outfit, same lighting, same poses! This will make it simple for you to put the photos side by side and compare. I posted my first ever progress photos today, check them out here!

BUT, physical improvements are not the only way to measure progress! And, in my opinion, they should not be the sole reason you workout.

REPEAT YOUR DAY ONE WORKOUT

I remember starting Insanity Max 30 with confidence – it is just a 30-minute workout, it cannot be that bad, right? WRONG. On day one, after a mere 8 minutes, I needed my first break. The sweat was dripping, my body was crying, and I was ready to quit. But I powered through the next 22 minutes, taking breaks as needed.

On my last day, I redid that workout. And guess what? I made it through it! This proved two crucial things.

  1. My body was stronger, I had more endurance, and I was fitter.
  2. I got over the negative nancy in my head and knew I could push through it!

So do the same workout on your first and last day or run a mile on your first and last day and observe the progress you make! If you are staying consistent there is no way around progress!

OBSERVE HOW YOU FEEL

Do you have more energy? Do you find yourself reaching for an apple over a cookie? Have your cravings subsided? Is your skin clearer? Are you sleeping better?

One of the things that working out regularly helped me with was my skin. I have acne prone skin, but my acne actually became a meter for how well I am taking care of myself. If I sweat toxins out of my body, fuel myself with proper nutrients, drink enough, and care for my skin properly chances are my skin is pretty dang happy.

I also find myself attracted to healthy food more often and also more in control of my cravings. For example, we stopped at a rest stop on the way home from a day trip over the weekend and my parents got ice cream, but I just did not want any. I even stood in front of the cooler for 5 minutes trying to pick one, only to walk away. And this is not because I was thinking “OMG how many calories that must have, that will ruin my whole day, that is so unhealthy!” I just had gotten over that constant desire for sweets!

And overall I just feel better. I am happier, more confident, much less bloated, and full of longer lasting energy. See, living a healthy lifestyle comes with a lot of positive side effects! And these too are great ways to measure your progress without that dang scale.

As a health and fitness coach, I often hear “help me lose weight”. No wonder eating disorders are prevalent in our society with that kind of pressure! But it is about so much more than that. We always hear about losing weight, but never maintaining weight or gaining weight!  There comes a time when the number on the scale just should not go down further and at the latest, this should be the point where progress is measured in different ways.

The scale is not the only or best answer. Find what works for you, what makes you truly happy. Because a number does not at all define you.

In what ways do you like to measure progress?

With love,

Lena Marie

P.S. If you want a little extra motivation to get fit and healthy, then click here and shoot me a message! I would love to help YOU make progress in your own way <3

EXPLORE WITH ME | SYLT

Sunset on Sylt

A little over a week ago my family and I returned from a weeks vacation on the island of Sylt. Since then I have been trying to get things done for school, dealing with computer issues, and have not felt the urge to write! But today, I would like to share my families week away with you all! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

Family is everything, and if you have the chance to get away from reality for a week with your family, you make it happen. That is exactly what I did! Nestled in the very north of Germany is an island in the North Sea, called Sylt. This island is like the Hamptons of Germany. It is a place that many wealthy people like to retire too, this is obvious from the homes, cars and various toys you see around the island.

BUT, the island is also an amazing place to visit as an “average” family or individual. There are many vacation rentals and hotels, restaurants galore, bike-rentals up the whazoo, and tons of other awesome activities. Water sports, a horseback ride along the coastline, you name it! It is an absolutely stunning place.

I experienced Sylt the first time in January of 2016, at a time in my life that things were far from perfect. The vacation was great, but I can remember the way that I felt at the time and that was not great. I am so happy to have been able to reexperience this lovely island in a much happier state of mind and today I wanted to take you with me 🙂

DAY 1 – SATURDAY
Kafaya's Hamburg
Breakfast at Kafaya’s!

At 2:10 a.m. we were off. While driving through the night is strenuous, it was entirely worth it. At 8:30 we made it to our first destination of the day, my city of birth, Hamburg, Germany! We met up with our old neighbor for a delightful breakfast at a little corner café called Kafayas. It was the breakfast of champions that powered us through the rest of the day. The breakfast was made with so much love, the café is gorgeous, and the company made it perfect.

After a few hours break, it was time to hit the road again. With about 2 hours to go before we got to the car-train to Sylt, our vacation was in reach. If you are traveling by car, your destination is a town called Niebüll where you then drive your car onto a train and then are chugga-chugga-choo-choo-ed on over the North Sea for 40 minutes until you reach Sylt.

Upon arriving we headed to our home for the week, the wonderful Ferienhaus Ines. We stayed here once before and loved it so much that we had to return! Not only is the house centrally located, but it has everything you could need and more. A small fenced in yard, a kitchen with all of the must-have utensils, 3 cozy bedrooms, and a lovely host, Ines, make it a wonderful place to stay!

We couldn’t take being on the island and not go to the beach, so we quickly ventured to the coast on a lovely mild and sunny afternoon to breath in the fresh sea air. It was the perfect way to start off a wonderful week.

DAY 2 – SUNDAY
Baby sheep standing at a trough
Baby sheep at the Lister Ellenbogen!

We were very tired from the long trip, so sleeping in was a must. The sun was shining, so we soaked it up a little before heading to the Lister Ellenbogen, the northernmost point of the island, picnic in hand. We walked along the beach, enjoyed our picnic and took in the view. With sheep and bunnies roaming freely and tons of dune grass, you cannot complain!

Our next stop was a cute restaurant called the Alte Backstube for tea and a sweet treat! We finished up our outing for the day at the Uwe Düne, the highest point of the island. While the view was insane, the wind had gotten nippy and we were ready to return to our lovely house. We cooked up a delicious meal, watched a movie and called it a day!

DAY 3 – MONDAY
Rotes Kliff, Kampen, Sylt
View from the “Rotes Kliff” in Kampen!

Finally, we were fully rested and ready to tackle the day. We rented bikes for the day and did a little tour around the island. We rode from Tinnum to Munkmarsch to Kampen, into the dunes, back to the Uwe Düne, walked to the Rotes Kliff, biked to Wenningstedt, where we stopped for a bite to eat, went to Westerland and then headed home. All in all, it was about 12ish miles, which is not terrible, but factor in the major winds we were battling and it was tough!

DAY 4 – TUESDAY
Lots of sheep walking around!
Sheep at the Rantumerbecken coming out of their shelter after the rain!

From the moment we woke up, dark clouds were hanging over the horizon. We waited to see if it would pass, but eventually just dared to head out on our way. We took a long walk to the Rantumbecken. Just as we arrived the clouds decided to burst, which was perfect timing because there was a shelter for us to stand under. When it seemed as if the rain had let up we started walking again. We passed sheep, cows, horses and all sorts of birds. My dad saw a sign for a café along the way, so we thought we would check it out!

Turns out it was the cutest place ever! It is called Hofcafe Klein’er Kuhstall and is a really cozy, beautifully decorated farmhouse, with tons of outdoor seating, but also plenty of indoor seating. We went in and sat down and as soon as I saw the menu, I knew this cafe was my favorite place! The menu had one or two meat and cheese platters, but otherwise, you could only order tea, coffee and from a selection of their homemade cakes and tortes. I ordered a green tea and a piece of Eierlikör Torte, both of which were amazing!

After our sweet treat, we headed back home and then hopped into the car to get some groceries. In addition, my mom bought me a lovely pair of earrings and we found some beautiful postcards before going home.

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY
Shells in my hand
Shells I collected as we walked along the beach in Hörnum under stormy skies!

Not every day can be go-go-go, so we relaxed all morning before visiting Hörnum, the southernmost point of the island. The weather looked pretty iffy as we left, but we were prepared.

Upon getting to Hörnum we knew the rain could start any minute. We started marching along the coast anyways, determined to enjoy ourselves. The sky, although stormy, was beautiful, the seagulls were flying all over the place, and the beach provided the perfect backdrop for some lovely photos. And then the rain started. Hoods up, bodies leaning against the wind, we found the path back to the road and trekked back to our car.

A stay on the North Sea is not possible without seafood and after that walk, we needed a little energy replenishment. We found a little bistro in the harbor that sold rolls with all sorts of smoked fish. We took a few to-go and feasted on them in the car. Our next stop was Fisch Blum where we found some great filets to grill up for dinner.

Our host, Ines, came over this evening with her 3-year-old son, Paul, to check in on us. She told us some great facts about the island, like how it is to get medical attention on the island, what the school options are for kids, and other island challenges. It was really cool hearing a person who lives on the island full time talk about it!

DAY 6 – THURSDAY
Cliff views in Morsum
Looking out over the “Morsum Kliff”!

A hearty breakfast was all we needed today before going to the bike rental place and taking off on another adventure. The sun was shining and the temperatures were mild – ideal for a bike tour! We hopped on and biked to Morsum, which is a town on the point closest to the German mainland.

It was a beautiful bike ride through the countryside of Sylt. The only unpleasant thing was the wind trying to blow us back to where we came from! But we fought against it until we reached the trailhead at the Morsum Kliff, a dune landscape made poignant by one large, gorgeous cliff. There is a lovely trail that takes you up onto the cliff, down to the beach and around the other side of the cliff back to the trailhead. Post hike we got back on the bikes to find a café for a sweet treat.

After regaining our strength we road towards the coast to take the coastline back home. On the way, we saw so many cute sheep, particularly cute baby black sheep, and finally were met with the still waters of the North Sea to guide us home. The sun reflected so strongly off the water that I turned back into my high school tennis girl self with the cutest shoe tan lines ever.

Sunset between pieces of dune grass
The sunset at the “Rotes Kliff”!

We arrived home and cooked up another delicious meal, but the day was not over yet. We were determined to catch a Sylter sunset. At 8:45 we piled into the car, drove to the Uwe Düne, walked to the Rotes Kliff and watched the sun dip below the horizon. What a stunning way to end the day.

DAY 7 – FRIDAY
View of the beach in Westerland
Our last walk along the beach in Westerland!

We woke up feeling very bitter as it was our last full day on Sylt. We enjoyed ourselves so much that going home did not really even feel like an option. The original plan was to leave early Saturday morning, but I suggested leaving Friday evening and we decided it made the most sense. Imagining waking up Saturday with the long drive home ahead of us was daunting and could have made me cry.

Instead, we rode the bikes into Westerland one last time to get some souvenirs and walk the beach. It was another mild day, so I took off my shoes to feel the sand between my toes and splash through the water. Just as we got back on the bikes to head home it started pouring. It was as if Mother Nature knew how bummed we were to leave.

We packed up, returned the bikes and stopped by one last time the Hofcafe Klein’er Kuhstall. We freshened up a bit and then got into the car around 7 to begin the long trek home. I took the first leg which included going on the car train, over the North Sea, over the North East Sea Canal, under the Elbe River, and through Hamburg. After getting coffee and tea, my mom took over.

DAY 8 – SATURDAY
Sunrise skies!
View of the sunrise out of the car window as we neared home!

My mom’s leg included an hour and a half long traffic jam in the middle of the night. After finally getting through that we took another pitstop where my dad took over. As the sky lit up and the countryside began to look familiar we knew we were close. Around 6 in the morning we made it home. We quietly unloaded the car in our still sleeping neighborhood and walked back into our apartment. We were home again but felt very bittersweet. After naps and the Saturday grocery shop was over we prepared ourselves for a new week.

A little over a week later and we still catch ourselves daydreaming of this lovely week and wishing we were still on Sylt.

This was my first vacation with my Nikon D5300 in hand and the photos turned out great. In my amateur opinion, that is. You can find them in full here, and I hope they give you a brief getaway from reality.

I will definitely be back one day <3

What is the one vacation spot that holds a special place in your heart?

With love,

Lena Marie

 

THOUGHTS | TAKING CHARGE

Beach

“The first key to ridding yourself of limiting subconscious beliefs is to become aware of them”

-Jen Sincero

My list of to-dos is through the roof. School, blog, Instagram, coaching business, along with being a good daughter, girlfriend, and friend is a lot! And yes, I totally am putting this pressure on myself, but I can still lose myself in it all every once and a while.

So today, I am taking charge. I need to find the positivity in things again and let go of everything that is nagging at me. To do so I figured I would pull out a book I read earlier this year, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero.

Jen Sincero found a great way to talk about the law of attraction in this book that is fun, easy, and super entertaining. As you read it you feel empowered, not degraded for not having taken charge of your life earlier.

The gist of the law of attraction is you get back what you put in. Typically we spend our time pointing out flaws and saying things like “I don’t have enough money” or “I will never get that job.” According to the law of attraction, you will never have enough money or get that job if you tell yourself that.

The point is, you need to change your way of thinking. Be positive, but also reassure yourself that you have what it takes to reach your goals. Sincero suggests doing 2 things in order to help you on the path of this new mindset: set affirmations and show gratitude.

I decided that I would share my affirmations and bits of gratitude with you, in order to hopefully inspire you into setting some for yourself!

AFFIRMATIONS

“It’s just as easy to believe we’re awesome as it is to believe we’re giant sucking things.”

-Jen Sincero

Like Sincero says, finding something positive to say about ourselves is just like finding something negative. So, why would you choose negative over positive? I don’t know, but we all do it, right? Here are 5 positive affirmations that help me shape my days better:

  1. I am beautiful, smart, and awesome.
  2. I love my tall and strong body.
  3. I am a productive and successful student.
  4. I am in charge of my own success.
  5. I love myself through the struggles.

GRATITUDE

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. “

-Jen Sincero

I used to take a lot of things in life for granted. Sure, I was always grateful, but I never explicitly expressed minus on Thanksgiving, maybe. Within the last few months, I have really made sure to express my gratitude more freely. I love using my Five Minute Journal app to record these bits of gratitude, but I also try to say things out loud to others. Here are 5 things I am always grateful for:

  1. I am grateful for my families unending support and willingness to help.
  2. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I am receiving in this big, scary world.
  3. I am grateful for nature and its stunning beauty.
  4. I am grateful for the means to live an adventurous, fun, happy life.
  5. I am grateful for my health and waking up every day to explore this crazy life.
TAKING CHARGE

From today onwards, I am going to take the time to set my affirmations and be grateful daily. I always let it slide down the list of priorities because life happens. But, that is not a good excuse. I find myself spewing out flaw after flaw, critiquing myself too hard, and setting myself under unnecessary pressure. Taking a few minutes to remember how GREAT I have it is definitely needed.

Yes, life gets hard, I know. But, why make it harder than necessary. Take charge today, reset your mind, and keep pushing for those goals. Your life is what you make it, so make it great.

With love,

Lena Marie

LENA MARIE LOVES | APRIL 2017

I remember sitting and writing my March post like it was yesterday, how is April already over?! All in all, April was a great month! Spring is in full force, with lots of April showers, Easter bunnies, and fresh blooms. I also had some staples that I reached for throughout the month of April, keep reading to see what I have been loving!

Lately, I have been loving…

TO WEAR…

Jeans! Throughout the winter months, I was struggling a bit with the fit of the jeans I had in my closet, but after making my workout routine a top priority, they fit properly again! My current favorite pairs stem from American Eagle Outfitters and Diesel. I prefer a  bit of a darker wash and a good amount of stretch in my jeans. When I purchased my newest pairs from American Eagle, I went outside of my comfort zone and got some with a higher waist as well. These quickly became a favorite pair as I feel like they cinch in the area I am not super confident in. Jeans are my go-to pant whenever I leave the house!

I also had a nail polish color that I wore a lot in April and that was “chubby cheeks” by Essie. It is a beautiful deeper coral tone and the perfect transition from darker pinks that I was still wearing in March!

TO EXERCISE…

By doing Insanity Max 30! This month too, this program has kept my going! All in all, it is a 60-day program, and I will be finishing up within the next 2 weeks. My body is not one to show crazy physical differences, but I do feel better. I have been really good at not finding excuses for my workouts throughout April and am planning on carrying that mindset on into this month!

From personal experience, I definitely could not recommend Insanity Max 30 or other Beachbody programs more. I truly have had a breakthrough in my personal health and fitness level these past few months and look forward to continuing the trend and hopefully seeing some abs poke through this summer 🙂 If you ever need some health and fitness motivation, you know where to find me! I am always more than happy to help.

TO USE…

My Little America Backpack by Herschel! This backpack is perfect for long days on campus. It is very nicely padded, has a great laptop sleeve, and is BIG! I find myself spending my free time between classes in the library. This means I take more things with me every day. Sadly these things don’t always fit into my Longchamp Le Pliage tote. This backpack has been a lifesaver. It holds all of my everyday essentials and is also ideal for travel! This bag also serves as a wonderful carry-on bag and just does not disappoint.

Mine is grey, with white polka dots, and the black rubber buckles. I cannot find this design anywhere, so I linked the plain grey one for you 🙂 The price is steep, but as long as you stick to a classic color or print, it will last forever. Not only is the bag stylish, but it’s practical and constructed with those of us with lots of things to carry in mind.

TO READ…

James Patterson’s “2nd Chance” from the Women’s Murder Club series. After reading “1st to Die” in March, I could not help but keep reading the series in April. And to be honest, around April 20th, I noticed that I had barely made a dent in my book for the month. Not wanting to break my new year’s resolution of reading a book a month, I read like a madwoman and this book made is so easy to be sucked in!

TO BE GRATEFUL FOR…

Patience. While April was most definitely a great month, there are still things that I am trying to achieve or improve. These things are taking a lot of patience. I had some moments of weakness where I let my frustration overtake me, but for the most part, I went with the flow. I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I have right now and I just hope that I can make a few of them a reality and achieve some of my goals through them.

What were your favorite things throughout April?

With love,

Lena Marie

MY TATTOOS & 5 TIPS FOR GETTING ONE

As a little girl people with tattoos scared me. It seemed as if only big, burly, motorcycle riding men had them and those kinds of men scared little Lena! I immediately associated tattoos with fear and these hardcore men, completely falling into the pit of the stereotype. Thankfully, I grew up and learned that absolutely anyone can have a tattoo, that they don’t always have to be big, that they can be true works of art, and that I actually liked some tattoos myself!

To preface this post, I do feel the need to make a few things clear as this can be a controversial topic. Tattoos are personal. We each have our own body. We get to choose what to do with that body! Also, some might say that my tattoos are not “real”, meaning that they are small, dainty little things, not big tribal designs or crazy intricate works of art. A tattoo is a tattoo. While I cannot tell you what it feels like to sit in a studio and be tattooed for hours, I can tell you that whatever you do, this is permanent. So take into consideration the tips I will be offering below when considering getting one – no matter how big, how little, how simple, or how intricate!

TATTOO 1: LOVE ON WRIST

Love Wrist Tattoo

At a mere 16 or 17, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I saw a picture of such a simple, but gorgeous tattoo – it said “love” in cursive and went across the person’s wrist. I pinned it and never forgot about it, even 3 years later. At age 19 I decided it was time. I was visiting Jonathan at the time and figured he could come with me and hold my hand.

A short 15 minutes later and a mere tickling feeling, the tattoo was done and I loved it! It healed up quickly and I have been happy with it ever since.

To be honest, I just love how this tattoo looks, that is what I initially noticed about it back when I first saw it. But, everyone always asks what a tattoo means and it seems as if “it was pretty” is not a good enough answer! So, over time I have actually discovered a meaning behind it, that I just was not conscious of until after I had it done. That said, here are the various things that this tattoo represents:

  1. Love. It is a word I say often, but only when I truly mean it. It is not a word I throw around lightly and it embodies certain feelings and relationships. Catching a glimpse of it throughout the day serves as a great reminder to just love – love life, love my family, love my boyfriend, love my dog.
  2. Its placement on my left wrist is not only practical but also holds a meaning. I wear a ring on my left ring finger that signifies a relationship with one of the people I love most. They say that the veins in your left hand lead directly to your heart, and I sure do love him a lot, along with my family and they will always hold a special spot in my heart.

So, while it may be cheesy for you, that is what this tattoo means to me.

TATTOO 2: HEART ON ANKLE

Heart Ankle Tattoo

This tattoo’s story is what defines it. It was May 2016, almost a year ago to the date, and I saw an article on Facebook. It was something along the lines of “Cute Mother Daughter Tattoos”. I scrolled through it and saw a few I liked and some that I strongly disliked. My mom was next to me, so I said, “wouldn’t it be cool to get matching mother-daughter tattoo’s?” I 110% believed she would laugh in my face and give me a big fat no, but surprise surprise, she agreed! Immediately needing to test this theory, I started digging around on Pinterest and showed her a few ideas. She went along with it as if she was taking it really seriously. A little while later we found a few ideas we liked and we were googling local tattoo parlors.

Saturday morning, we walked, while nervously giggling, into a tattoo parlor and showed them our ideas. Within a few weeks I was leaving to go to the US for 8 months and it was either now or never. The woman at the desk gave her honest opinion and we decided on small hearts on our ankles. The next available appointment was not until the afternoon, so we spent the day together shopping and having a coffee and at 2:00, we were back in the studio getting inked! The next hilarious aspect was that my dad was texting us asking what was taking us so long… we had not told him what we were up too!

When we got home, we surprised my dad and he totally did not believe us. But he grew to like the idea (too late anyways haha!).

Matching heart ankle tattoos

My mom and I have a really close relationship. We get along quite well, for the most part, and we love having fun together! While we will forever be related by blood, this is just a special similarity we share, and even when we are far apart, we can’t help but think of it whenever we see the tattoo!

5 TIPS FOR GETTING A TATTOO

A tattoo is not something you should get on a whim. You should invest some quality time into considering getting a tattoo! Here are my 5 tips on what to think of:

  1. WHAT will your tattoo be? Is it be something you are proud to have your grandma, boss, or child see? Is it just a trendy word or symbol, or do you have a true connection with it? Is it going to be big or little? Unfortunately, tattoos are sometimes still be frowned upon. For me, it was really important to make sure that they were words or symbols that I loved, but that were also tasteful if others are to see them.
  2. PLACEMENT! As a woman, I thought about the clothes, bikinis, and accessories. I wanted the option to be able to “hide” my tattoo if it was necessary. The one on my wrist can easily be covered by a watch band or bracelet. The one on my ankle is easily covered by long pants or a maxi dress/skirt or booties! Worst case scenario, you could also cover it with a band-aid or makeup. Just think of where it would be most appropriate for you and test it! When my mom and I were talking about it, we actually drew the tattoos on each other and walked around to see if we liked it. A sharpie may not look nearly as good, but it definitely helps!
  3. GET FEEDBACK! We tend to be irrational as humans sometimes, especially when we get obsessed with an idea. Turn to someone you trust and ask them what they think of the tattoo and the placement. Chances are they will have a totally different insight into it than you and they might have some good ideas!
  4. TRUST YOUR TATTOO ARTIST! Getting a tattoo is a big deal, even if it’s little! You want it to be as perfect as possible. You need to make sure that your artist is listening to what you are telling them. BUT, you also need to listen to them. For example, for my tattoo on my wrist, I wanted it closer to my hand. He had me bend my wrist and explained that the ink would fade quicker if he were to place it in all of the folds of my skin. Tattoo artists are true artists. Just like you can say no if you don’t want them to do it, they can turn you away too if they don’t think you’re seeing eye to eye or don’t agree with the tattoo you have chosen. For example, my mom and I considered small infinity signs and they basically told us that they would not do that. There are so many people running around with infinity sign tattoos already and the artists have so much more talent than stamping a generic symbol on you. Our artist ended up free handing the hearts on paper and then tattooing them, just so that they were not that ultra perfect heart you find on google!
  5. TAKE YOUR TIME! There is no reason to get a tattoo you love today. Best case scenario push it off as long as you can to make sure that you REALLY love it. Tattoos, at least for me, are a luxury. You are spending money on getting ink put into your skin. It’s just as silly as paying for someone to put holes in your body when you get piercings. So, take the time to think things through, get opinions and consider placement. It is worth it, I promise.

I hope that you enjoyed hearing about my tattoos and learning the tips I have for those considering getting one. Chances are I will not get another one in the future, 2 are plenty. But, I definitely do not regret the 2 that I have.

Do you have a tattoo and a fun story about how you came to get it?

With love,

Lena Marie

 

LWLM’S WEEK VOL. XVI

Porsche Tennis Grand Prix ticket
April 16, 2017 to April 22, 2017

Busy, cold, and fun. Those would be the three words that best sum up this past week for me! The spring weather has definitely gone into, hopefully, a temporary, hiding spot. But, like my mom has always told me, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” So, nothing can stop me from having a great week! Here are my 5 favorite moments:

  1. Sunday, April 16th, was Easter! Easter is one of those holidays that is SO commercialized. It is sickening! I always am conscious of remembering WHY we celebrate these holidays and also spending them in a mindful manner. This Easter, in particular, was really cool because my mom and I spent the day cooking up all of the yummy food together. We had my Omi join us from brunch until dinner, and just enjoyed a really nice day with the family. For brunch, my dad and I whipped up some waffles! We ate them with TONS of fruit, pure maple syrup, and, my favorite, Nutella! For our Easter lunch/dinner, my mom and I made a Spinach Zucchini Quiche, with hardboiled eggs for a fun Easter touch. And for our dessert, my mom and I made Mini Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake Trifles and served them with a fresh cup of coffee. Boy, are we lucky to have this much and this great of food…
  2. Easter Monday is a national holiday here in Germany. Yay for another day to sleep in! But really, do homework. It was a rather dreary day, but my mom suggested we go for a walk anyways. The moment we got out to the fields where we go walking, the sun erupted from behind the clouds and made the prettiest designs in the sky. It was so stunning!
  3. Tuesday, the gloominess continued. When I got to campus for class I emerged from the subway station to WHITE ON THE GROUND! Yes friends, SNOW! I was thankful to be able to hunker down in the library and get some work done. My favorite part of the day was that I came up with several cool ideas for various projects I have this semester. Little moments like that just really hammer it home for me, that I am in the right place at this point in my young life. Before I rarely felt inspired and I dreaded studying, that will probably never change!
  4. Thursdays are my days off. These are my days to check things off my to-do list! And today was the perfect example. My favorite part of the day was going to bed feeling accomplished. I got my workout in, my school work done, 3 loads of laundry washed and hung to dry, and a few other pesky to-do’s I had been putting off for a while. There is no better feeling than going to bed feeling accomplished.
  5. Saturday, it was time to get out of the house. The timing could not have been better, as my dear friend Sofie had invited me to join her in watching the Qualifications for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, here in Stuttgart. We ended up watching several phenomenal matches, up close and personal and getting a bite to eat together. It was so much fun catching up again and spending time together!

Life sure has a funny way of working out. I feel as if a switch has turned throughout this week where I am really ready to take on anything. It feels really good to be full of passion and determination to reach for my big life dreams! And weeks like this are just the baby steps to getting there.

What were your favorite moments of the week?

With love,

Lena Marie

 

EXPLORE WITH ME | ULM & BLAUBEUREN

Growing up internationally has not always been easy. Especially the last few years where half of my heart is on one side of the ocean and the other half on the other side. Initially, when we moved to Germany I would throw myself a pity party often. And while I still do that every once and a while, I have learned an important lesson – take advantage of your opportunities! I could spend my time pouting about how much I miss Jon, about being a broke college student, about not being done with college yet… And granted, I do every once and a while, but for the most part, I don’t, because when am I going to be 21 again living in southern Germany, with my family, with sight-seeing opportunities right outside of our door?  Never again.

So, that leaves only one option and that is to GET OUT THERE! And that is exactly what we did this past Saturday. We took the time to go explore 2 towns about an hour or so from where we live, and I took you all with me! I hope you enjoy reliving this day with me 🙂

At 5:25 on Saturday morning, my mom knocked on my door and woke me up. As a common German saying says, “first the work, then the fun”. So I rolled out of bed, got ready and by 6:30 my mom, my dad, Tobi, and I were in the car leaving the house. With Easter the next day a round of grocery shopping was necessary. After ensuring we had all of the Easter goods, we stopped by the bakery for some fresh rolls.

Fresh rolls for breakfast!

By 7:30 we were sitting at home eating our fresh rolls to fuel up for a big day! Next stop: Ulm! Ulm is a city of about 120,000 residents and home to the church with the highest steeple in the whole world! Our goal was to visit the minster, climb the steeple, and gather an impression of the city.

The Ulm Minster from afar

We arrived in Ulm after a little more than an hour and could already spy the minster. With the steeple peeking up over everything, our walk to the heart of the city was made easy. The minster is located in the midst of our favorite stores and cafes. But on Saturday’s and typically one other day a week, the farmer’s market sets up around the impressive building.

Coffee at Henry's

After waking up so early,  I was falling asleep on the car ride, so we figured a coffee stop was necessary. We found a nice place, called Henry’s. I ordered my favorite coffee drink, a Latté Macchiato, and a water. After draining our cups and gathering some energy, off we were to the minster!

Ulm Minster - Outside

Ulm Minster - front

Ulm Minster - back

The Ulm Minster took over 500 hundred years to complete. It is built in a gothic style and has incredible stained glass windows. We were talking to a tour guide in the church and she said that throughout the wars the windows were actually removed and then reinstalled! These pictures don’t even show 1/4 of all of the windows, plus they are HUGE! The amount of detail in old churches always amazes me and the Ulm Minster did not disappoint.

Ulm Minster - tower climb

Dad and I on top!

View of Ulm

As an adrenaline junkie and someone not afraid of heights, I was not scared for our next challenge, the 768 step climb to the top of the 530 foot (161.5 meters) church tower! There are 3 platforms throughout the climb, which we did not know before beginning. My mom, dad, and I made it to the first platform together, but from there my dad and I continued to the top on our own. Thinking we had reached the top, my dad and I made it to the second platform. In the photo above you can see me leaning against a tower, and that my friends was the final part of our climb.

Up until the second platform the church has two stairwells, one for people going up and one for people going down. But the third and final climb is one stairwell that is barely big enough for one person, let alone traffic from people going up and down at the same time. There are also open windows, big enough for a small child to fit through, all around the tower. The higher we went, the windier it got! When we finally reached the top we went around the viewing platform once and then started the descent. The platform too was barely one person wide, so if you got scared and wanted to turn around – tough luck!

The view was entirely worth it. Ulm is beautiful from above, especially with the Donau River flowing through the middle of the city. Sadly it was not the clearest of days, because apparently when it’s clear you can see the Swiss Alps in the distance! Nonetheless, the climb paid itself off as soon as we reached the top.

Ulm Minster - tower climb

The trek back down was much easier, but still so dizzying! As you can see the stairwells spiral and by the time you’ve gone up 42 stories and down 42 stories (according to my Fitbit), the world is twisting and turning a bit!

Farmers market flowers

We met back up with my mom and walked around the farmer’s market before we stopped for lunch. The market was starting to wind down for the day, but there were SO many beautiful flower stands!

Lunch at Henry's

We ended up back at Henry’s for lunch where I had a delicious chicken burger. Those fries were also the best fries I had had in a long time! Upon finishing lunch we did a little bit of window shopping before heading to the car. Our next stop was Blaubeuren, a small town not too far from Ulm. It is known for being home to the “Blautopf” which literally translates to “blue pot”.

Blue Pot sign

We parked as soon as we saw a spot and followed these cute little signs until we reached the Blautopf.

Blautopf

So chances are you can guess why it is called the “blue pot”! The water here is insanely blue! According to good ole Wikipedia, this “is the result of physical properties of the nanoscale limestone densely distributed in the water”. The boldness of the blue color also fluctuates with the weather and temperature. At its deepest point, the spring is 21 meters deep. Swimming is not permitted, but even if it was, you could not get me to swim in such deep water!

Half-Timbered house - yellow

Half-timbered house grey

From there we meandered through the streets of this interesting little town back to our car. So many of the houses have such intricate detailing! And look at that curve in the structure of the house with red shutters! This little town made me feel like I had gone through a time machine. The local electronics store is totally outdated, you could just tell how old the homes are, and even the locals we saw seemed removed from our modern world. While I find that so cool, it did give me the creeps a little bit too!

After this, we piled back into the car and drove home to enjoy the rest of the day. It was really cool to go see something new. That’s the cool thing about Europe, you never have to go far to experience new things!

I hope you all enjoyed this post and felt as if you were a part of this day too! I hope that you all get the opportunity to come explore these wonderful places yourselves 🙂

What are your bucket list travel destinations?

With love,

Lena Marie

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