Ich bin

So, for the last two weeks, I’ve been in training for my new job as fitness coach – learning the procedures, the computer system, the equipment, the course structures, and the personalities of the regular members. The last point is the one that challenges this rather shy girl. You want me to walk around, make small talk, make myself approachable…in German…? Gulp.

Lucky for me, I’ve discovered an idiosyncrasy in the German language that allows me to define and assume an alternate personality as fitness coach. Hallo, ich bin die Christina. The literal translation – Hello, I am the Christina. Yes – The Christina. I’m giving it a capital T for effect.

I’m the outgoing, totally approachable girl with the funny accent who will help you get to those killer abs and lean, sexy muscles. I’ll create an inspiring training plan you can’t wait to do. I’ll lead the most fun abs/butt/legs/back group workouts you’ve ever experienced. I’ve got great nutrition tips. Anything else you need to reach your fitness goals? I can whip that up too!

Just in the nick of time – next week I start my regular schedule. Here comes The Christina, fitness coach extraordinaire!

Hitchhiking to Spring

A call home usually consists of my mother telling me how warm and sunny it is in Phoenix, and me answering with, “I don’t want to hear it.” I’m not being mean, I really just don’t want to know what I’m missing while I’m sitting here desperately waiting for the sun to shine for longer than 10% of my waking hours. Every morning I wake up, full of hope that Spring has finally arrived, only to open the drapes to another day of gray and rain. Do you know how many times I’ve gotten wet while riding my bike to work (yes, my new work!) in the last week? It’s certainly more than this Arizona girl is used to.

In the hopes of enticing Spring to come out and show a little thigh, we spent the last few weekends giving our apartment balcony a makeover. Not only did the mother-in-law and I buy brightly colored flowers last time she visited that make me smile every time I see them, but Toby and I also added some shrubbery to the window box – one that looks nice and was not too expensive (good for you if you got the movie reference!).

Funny – in Arizona I used to do rain dances in the street when I was a kid. Now I’m turning to my green thumb to get Spring’s attention and chase away the rain. I hope I’m better with balcony plants than I am with basil….

Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Spring!

Soccer, pretzels, and Leberkäse

As a lucky twist of fate would have it, Toby’s birthday and the quarter-finale for the Champions League (soccer) landed on the same day. A perfect excuse for a party on an otherwise normal Tuesday! Because FC Bayern München was playing Olympique de Marseille, we hosted a Bavarian-themed party replete with Toby’s favorite Bavarian beer and typical beer garden eats. The evening went splendidly!

The creation of our menu items was a full day of adventures in the kitchen for me.

First up was a trip to the bakery to buy pretzels and rolls. Note – Bavarian pretzels disappear in Düsseldorf very quickly; they must be acquired first thing in the morning. With my baked goods safely stashed away, I could concentrate on the other tasks at hand – Emmentaler squares, Obatzda, potato salad, accordion-cut Radi, and other simpler but important accoutrements such as mustard (store-bought, I’m not that ambitious), little tomatoes, and radishes. The crowning Leberkäse was brought from the butcher by Toby.

I started with the easiest thing – Emmentaler squares. It’s all about building on the small successes, right? Emmentaler is a slightly nutty cheese with holes in it (think Swiss cheese). At the beer garden and Oktoberfest it comes served in cubes, salted and peppered. A delight with a fresh pretzel!

Next up – Obatzda. This is a very traditional Bavarian spread made of Camembert cheese, cream cheese, and butter flavored with finely cut white onions, sweet paprika, caraway, salt, and pepper. The mashing of the Camembert with a fork is a heck of a workout (note – it goes much easier if you leave it out for an hour or so), but the effort is worth it. Obatzda makes the perfect beer-soaker-upper.

The potato salad was a special request from Toby – “the kind with pickles and an oil and vinegar dressing.” Fortunately it’s an easy request to fill – cook and peel potatoes, cut into small pieces, add diced pickles, add diced red onions cooked in vegetable bouillon. Oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper come right before you serve your bowl o’ potato salad. A perfect companion for your cheese and pretzels!

The most adventurous task of the day, by far, was the cutting of the Radi (a long root, with a flavor like a radish). It’s usually served in a very thinly sliced spiral. But, because you need a special machine to do this, I voted to try the accordion-cut version (I could have cheated with regular thin slices, but where’s the fun in that?). All I can say is, You Tube rules. I won’t bore you with the details, but it requires a great deal of concentration, limb control, and the exact knife angle. Once you have your accordion, you salt the crap out of it – the Radi’s flavor comes out when you make it “cry.”

The anchor for the meal was Leberkäse, something like a Bavarian meatloaf that you eat with sweet mustard on a white Kaiser roll. While Toby and I aren’t big meat eaters, this was to complete the menu for our guests. And they ate it up, literally!

Wash everything down with Hefeweizen (wheat beer) and Pils (Pilsener) for the boys and white wine for the girls – a raving success!


I was a little lazy today. That’s ok. Today is one of my last days of bum-dom. I might as well enjoy it. Next week my life as fitness coach begins.

I did some window shopping, had lunch with a friend, drank coffee in the sun at a street cafe, did some real shopping.

All the fresh air and blue skies were good for my soul. I had a moment to really think about why, and to convince my inner worrier and skeptic that, my transition into a new career world, despite my lower pay and less-than-optimal working hours, is a good thing and how much I really have to look forward to. This is, after all, just the first of many potentially good steps.


To inspire and be inspired. To try something new. To teach others something new, or at least make them more aware. To broaden my horizons. To turn toward new horizons.

To make the world a better place, or at least my little piece of it. To look good while I’m doing it (why not?). To feel good. To help others feel good.

To make a good impression. To make a lasting impression. To change things for the better. To be changed for the better. To learn and grow.