Posts tagged ‘healthy’

2017, March 24

For the longest time, I avoided the gym

Yes. For the longest time I avoided going to the gym. Come to think of it I avoided gym classes as much as possible back in school as well, even before getting a medical slip excusing me from the class for the last two years of high school.
By now, the medical issues sort of cleared up, or at least, I know how to handle stuff.

Image from Cheri Cope’s blog post, Run with Your Heart

Last Summer, I decided that I wanted to run, and maybe even exercise more. Okay, truth is, I started running to lose a little bit of weight and fit into the dress a friend let me borrow to wear to a wedding last Fall.
However, after I started running during the second half of the Summer, luckily I liked it so much that I wanted to keep going. (Here are some great tips for someone just starting out with running.)
I even signed up and ran two cross events so far, one last Fall and one this month. And, I am signed up for two other cross events this Spring, and am interested in a third in the Summer also if the admission fee won’t be too steep!

For those who choose to go, my firm offers the benefit of a gym membership to the gym close by the office. I wouldn’t want to go there though… I’d hate having to wake up early to go before work, or during my lunch break, or after work. Honestly, I don’t want to use the shower there, which I would definitely need to in either of these scenarios. So even though it’s free, I don’t go there.

I signed up for the gym close to our flat when the weather was too cold for me to run outside. I couldn’t risk getting a cold every time I wanted to run. I found a good deal at the gym – it’s 30% off if I go in between 7am-3pm!
So my very optimistic plan throughout the Winter was:
– going to the gym on Mondays and Fridays before 3pm since I work from home anyway,
– maybe a gym running-session on Saturday depending on my schedule,
– and ice skating on Wednesdays after work as soon as the ice rink opened. I am proud to say that I managed to stick to the schedule pretty well!

That said, please note that you don’t have to have a gym membership if you can’t afford it, don’t have time to find one near you, don’t want to go alone, etc. I honestly only signed up, because I wanted to continue running, and didn’t have a treadmill at home.
There are many YouTube channels out there with great workouts, which you can follow at home. Two of my favorites are FitnessBlender and XHIT Daily. I used these resources for home workouts when I couldn’t get to the gym.

Here are just a few pointers I can give someone who is starting out with regular exercising:

  • Check with your doctor in case you have any sort of physical restrictions so they can advise if it is safe to work out.
  • Eat well (and healthy), at least one meal, before heading to the gym.
  • Based on the previous point, do give the meal some time before actually walking out the door.
  • Keep hydrated. Take a water bottle with you and sip sip sip while you work out.
  • Talk with the trainers there. Tell them about any physical restrictions you might have. Ask which machine does what and how/in what order to use them. Ask for suggestions as they can provide you with a lot of helpful advice depending on what your goal is.
  • If a certain workout or machine doesn’t work for you, do something else. (For example, I get dizzy/motion sick if I try doing abs workouts on a balance ball.)
  • Do what feels good. If you have the elliptical set for 20 minutes for example, but you’re feeling too tired after 10 minutes, adjust the time or hit the “cool down” button and move onto the following exercise.
  • Take your time. No need to rush through the exercise routines. Allow at least a minute or two between sets, to rest.
  • If you feel faint or dizzy, stop immediately what ever exercise you are doing.
  • Don’t over do it with cardio, as cardio alone will not help much. Do some cardio to get warmed up, but then some kind of strength training, and finish with some more cardio if you want.
  • You don’t need to go to the gym every single day. It is a good idea to let your muscles rest between gym sessions.
  • Try to walk more (to/from work, when you go shopping, walk up the stairs instead of using the elevator, take on walking the dog three times a day or more, etc.) and take regular breaks to stretch and move around a minute or two during your everyday life, especially if you work at a desk all day.
  • If you like such things, go cycling, hiking, ice skating, dancing or include other forms of exercise into your free time.

Workout clothes and shoes can be colorful, and fun to shop for. Apparently the people who invented exercise clothes actually knew what they were doing. After buying a pair of warm tights to ice skate in (which are basically running tights, so I used them for that, too), I am never looking back!
However, I simply had spare comfy clothes I used before now.
I didn’t want to be that person who said she’s going to exercise, buys a ton of specific clothes for it, uses them three times total, then never looks at them again because she didn’t stick with exercising!

I’d suggest buying what you need as you go – more budget-friendly, and kind of like a reward system for sticking with it. Sneaky, right?

Hope you found my post helpful if you’re just starting to exercise more, or if you’ve been doing it for a longer period, please leave me a few tips you can think of, in the comment section below :) I’m always open to suggestions!

2015, August 10

Partake in salad alchemy

For last week, the assignment in the year of loving ourselves fearlessly was to Partake in salad alchemy. I’ll copy below what j says in the 52-52 Guide, so you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.
“One year on my birthday, my friend Andrea sent me the coolest little e-book. It’s called Salad Alchemy. It’s written by Meg Worden of Feed Me, Darling, and it’s so special and different that I’ll steal the words from her site to describe it:
Salad Alchemy is 7 lovely, life shifting salads, with ingredients that hold in them legend, story, nutrients and energy to transform your body and belief system about food.
This is not your ordinary cookbook or recipe book. This is seven story-centric salad recipes that serve to guide you into a deeper understanding of how pleasurable the preparation and consumption of food can be. It can be an ecstatic experience, even if you’re eating salad. Salad! Who knew?
I loved it. The seven salads are named Creativity, Power, Genius, Transformation, Stability, Beauty and Love. Meg writes about each one beautifully, linking food, myth, science and soul. I loved making the salads, reading Meg’s words, thinking about them as I tasted. It’s not a book so much as an experience.
This week, I’d love you try Meg’s salads. You can download the book here. It’s only $8.95, but if you can’t afford that, this week, live as though you believe the adage, “you are what you eat.” Be good to your body. Eat fresh, raw, and close to the earth. Eliminate preservatives and anything with unpronounceable ingredients. Enjoy your meals from prep all the way through clean-up. Your body is an astonishing biological miracle. Slow down. Appreciate it. Feed it soulfully.”

I couldn’t buy the book right now, but followed j’s advice and ate as healthy as I could, and played with having salads nearly every day.
On Monday I made grilled squash. On Tuesday I had a salad with hard boiled eggs in it. On Wednesday I took a salad to work for lunch and added the left-over squash into it. On Thursday I made Eggplant Spread. On Friday I added a can of tuna to my salad. On Saturday I sautéed mushrooms to go with lunch. And on Sunday, I had a yummy salad from Pret, in Kingston.
I also did my best to have fruit nearly every day, like bananas for breakfast, apples after lunch and melons as a treat, and I had yogurt and muesli, too.
And to tell the truth, I look forward to eating in London this week. I ate healthy last time I was here as well, so it’ll be nice not having the temptation of chocolate, chips and other such things around me (we have quite the extensive stash of treats in one of our kitchen cabinets at home!) ;)

In case you’re looking for new salad ideas, here are a few salad recipes I posted on my blog before. I still love making them on a regular basis!

For week 32, the assignment is to Make a “songs to be belted” playlist.
j said that for her, collecting songs for such a playlist was fun because not every song she likes is a song she loves to belt, and I completely understand that. I will be making a playlist for myself, and share the titles with you here, next week.

How was your week? Did you partake in salad alchemy? Or at least ate healthy things too, every day? Or a couple of days maybe?

PS: If you’re interested in joining us, you don’t have to have the e-guide to play, but if you’d like it, you can buy it in the shop.

2012, April 8

Recipe of the month – Making Strawberry Soup with Ann McElfresh

Happy Easter!!!


I have a little Easter treat for you guys in the form of a guest post by none other than my favorite food blogger, Ann McElfresh from Cooking Healthy For Me.

I’ve been following her blog and trying out her recipes for quite a while now, and imagine how thrilled I was when she accepted to join me today for a little chat and some healthy (not to mention delicious!) cooking :)


IMG_3184 EA: Hello Ann!

AMc: Hiya Estrella!  How are you?

EA: I’m doing great, thanks. It’s such a pleasure having you here, thank you for accepting my invitation to guest post!

AMc: Thank YOU for inviting me!  I’m thrilled to be here! 

EA: You know I’m a picky eater and that, aside from Peach Soup, I generally dislike soup. How did you settle for a recipe for your guest post for Life’s a Stage?

AMc: I know you like strawberries and this is such a delightful soup.  Cool, sweet and refreshing!  I went with my instincts – I just love it!

EA: I just had to give the recipe a try as soon as I could find strawberries (they’re definitely not ripe here just yet). Do you prefer them frozen or fresh for soup?

AMc: I would say frozen.  When they’re defrosted, they have a juiciness to them and since they’re being "pulverized" anyway, the softer texture works well.

IMG_3199 EA: I adapted the recipe a bit, since I couldn’t find any (low-enough-for-my-budget priced) frozen strawberries. I bought fresh strawberries (which, to my surprise were much cheaper) and decided to use strawberry yogurt instead of plain yogurt – the end result was a nice aroma.
You know how tasteless fruits and vegetables can be when not in season… What are your suggestions for similar situations?

AMc: First off, I LOVE the idea of using Strawberry yogurt.  I used Greek yogurt in mine. If you can’t find fresh fruits and veggies at the peak of season – most of the time – Frozen works well. They are generally picked at the peak of season and frozen quickly. While they aren’t as tasty, they certainly work well.

EA: Now, I know you’ve made some recipe adapting of your own. So let’s get cooking, shall we?

AMc: Sounds good!

Strawberry Soup (Serves 6)

Adapted from Delicious Disney



2.5 pounds frozen strawberries, thawed in juice
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (2 cups heavy whipping cream)
¼ cup low-fat sour cream (1/4 cup sour cream)
1/3 cup fat-free plain Greek Yogurt (1/3 cup plain yogurt)
3 Tablespoons Splenda (1 Tablespoon sugar)
Strawberries for garnish (optional)



Mix strawberries, half-and-half, sour cream and yogurt in an electric mixer, immersion blender or blender.

Beat a low speed to a smooth consistency.

Add Splenda, if desired.

Chill; stir well before serving.

Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired.


AMc: Easy, delicious and perfect for spring and summer!

EA: It is all that and beyond; I LOVE this soup, Ann! Can’t wait for strawberry season now – both to make this soup (every single day!) and to freeze some strawberries for when I’m in the mood to have this during winter.

Oh and, like all your photos usually are on your blog along with the recipes, the photo of the soup is gorgeous. Here’s what mine looked like :)


AMc: It looks TERRIFIC!  Your soup looks so cool and creamy!

Many thanks Estrella, for the guest post opportunity – I had a blast!

EA: Thank YOU again for sharing this wonderful recipe with me, and now with my readers. It certainly was a blast to have you over!

Bon appétit, everyone!

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