Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mexico - Xilitla, San Luis Potosi

Cenote in Xilitla in San Luis Potosi in Mexico
Mexico, as I have told those around me again and again, will always have a special place in my heart. Even though I did not end up settling down there (which was once my goal in life), my memories there will stay golden forever. Today, I would like to share with you a small part of my journey in Mexico - Waterfall Diving, Jungle Adventure, Surreal Castle and Canoeing in Turquoise Blue water in the amazing small town Xilitla in the southern tip of the state of San Luis Potosi.
On a Friday night, two big party buses (yes this trip happened during my partying days) picked up a big group of us and we were driven to Xilitla overnight - it was basically a whole night of drinking and partying in the night buses. Young, Wild, and Free - exact description of the night.
Just when the sun was rising in the early morning, we arrived to a jungle - with all of us still hungover. But we were soon widely awake once we saw the amazing Cenote (a natural pit/ sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath - source: Wikipedia) inside the jungle. It looked absolutely unreal. 
The first activity was of course - CLIFF JUMPING.
Cenote, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Cenote, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Cenote, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Cenote, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
We swam around the cenote and the caves, climbing up the rocks and cliffs and jumping down again - and simply enjoying the beauty of nature. It was one of those magical mornings.Cenote, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
In the afternoon, we went back onto the buses and continued our journey to the small town of Xilitla. We then arrived to our hotel: Puerta del Cielo (Door to Heaven) in Xilitla and it was just lovely. Our favorite was definitely the roof top pool. We drank and chilled at the pool for a while to just enjoyed the scenery of the town. 
Hotel, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
We walked around the town a little bit before heading to dinner and we immediately fell in love with the colorful houses and the tranquility of the place.
Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Dinner was delicious as usual - I seriously can eat only Mexican Food for life. I remember some Asian friends of mine in Mexico missed their home food so much that they had to buy a rice cooker to make Asian food everyday. For me, however, I was more than happy to eat tacos and quesadillas everyday and I actually had a very difficult time transitioning back to eating Hong Kong food when I first got back to Hong Kong after living in Mexico for 6 months.
Dinner, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

After dinner, all of us went to a local bar (might actually be the only bar in the town) and had a little party to celebrate one of our friend's birthday. It was not like any of the other normal weekly parties we had in clubs - we did not need to dress fancy to impress anyone. It was just us in the bar and the rest of the town was already deep in sleep. We partied like there's no one else in the world - we were completely carefree and burden-free. It was an amazing feeling.
Partying, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Partying, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
The next day we woke up energized after a good night of sleep and we were ready for some waterfall diving! We first hiked up a mountain and once we reached the top, we had helmets and life jackets on - and we started jumping down waterfalls after waterfalls until we reached the lake at the very bottom of the mountain.
Waterfall Diving, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Waterfall Diving, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
It was such an unforgettable experience - conquering one waterfall after another, from the first one with a lot of screaming and kicking, to gradually jumping higher and higher, and in the end doing flips in the air. Just like a fitness journey, it really is all mental. If you tell yourself you can do it, you can.
We were all exhausted after the waterfall diving and luckily there was this local barbecue chicken place at the bottom of the mountain - and even though it looked a bit sketchy, they had the BEST BARBECUE CHICKEN I had ever tasted in my life. Even writing about it now makes me hungry..
Barbecue Chicken, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
In the afternoon, we went for another adventure - the surreal castle of Sir Edward James inside the jungle. Edward James, son of King Edward the VII, was born in UK with extreme wealth. With a crazy love for surrealist art, he built a fantasy world in this tropical rain forest near Xilitla, with the help of a famed artist, Salvador Dali. One of his creations, the surreal castle, consists of natural pools, towering sculptures, waterfalls and etc. It was magnificent.
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Edward James, Surreal Castle, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico


After a whole day of adventure in the waterfalls and jungle, we were tired but of course, nothing could stop us from another night of crazy partying. 
Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
I am not going to bore you with the wild partying details here (: Let's jump straight to the canoeing in gorgeous blue waters the next morning!
Canoeing, Kayaking,  Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Canoeing, Kayaking,  Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Canoeing, Kayaking,  Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Canoeing, Kayaking,  Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Cliff Jumping, Xilitla, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
We spent the whole day swimming in the blue water, having a little canoe competition, jumping down from cliffs and exploring in caves. It was a magical day and marked the end of this wonderful trip.
The best thing about this trip is that it costed me less than USD135 in total, including all the expenses. You do not need to spend big money in order to travel to amazing places. Interestingly, the trips that I have enjoyed the most were the budgeted ones.
Hope you enjoy reading my trip in Xilitla. Subscribe to my blog and stay tuned for more travelling stories!
Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Interview by The Salonniere's Apartments

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Marilyn, the owner of The Salonniere's Apartments, a lifestyle and creativity blog that looks at various interests including travelling and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I could not be happier when I first got the interview invite because not only did I find Marilyn's blog to be very inspiring, she is also a BBG girl who loves to travel around the world! 

Originally posted on The Salonniere's Apartments (Link of the Original Post: http://thesalonnieresapartments.com/a-conversation-with-emi-of-stay-fit-and-travel/), below is the interview of me done by the amazing Marilyn, with me sharing more about the reason I started my fitness journey, my transition from a party girl to a health freak, the reasons I added extra workouts to the BBG, the challenges that I faced throughout the journey, my advices to those who wanted to start a healthy lifestyle, my 2015 fitness goals and etc. I hope you will find the interview helpful to your fitness journey!


A Conversation With Emi of Stay Fit and Travel

Emi, Stay Fit and Travel, Abs, Kayla Itsines
I first came across Emi of Stay Fit and Travel through Instagram – we were both doing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and I was just blown away by her amazing transformation photos! Those abs! And those pics of scrumptious, healthy meals she’s always making! I loved her commitment to a clean, healthy lifestyle and I was also amazed when I first read the story of her journey to a fit, healthy life on her blog. Plus, I was really interested in learning about what it’s like committing to living a healthy lifestyle in Hong Kong! So I decided to get in touch with Emi and interview her for the Conversation series. She is such a sweet and lovely girl, as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and it was a real pleasure doing this interview with her – as you will find out if you read on!
You mentioned on your blog that you began your fitness journey shortly after you had a minor operation in 2013. Could you tell me a little bit more about your journey and how you went from being the party girl who drank every day to the girl who works out 4-5 times a week and eats clean?
When I was in college, the only thing I wanted to do in life was party. To me, that really was the definition of living life to the fullest. I did not want to miss out on any chance to get drunk/have fun because I did not want any regrets when I get old one day. I felt young, wild and free and health was never a concern for me. I would not say I felt healthy at the time, but having a ‘functional’ body and being able to do whatever I want with it were things that I took for granted.
The amount I drank in just four years’ time was probably what a normal person would drink in 10-15 years. I did not think about what it would do to me in the long term. Exercising and eating clean, of course, never crossed my mind. Although I was unfit, I was never fat either, so I never felt like I needed to do something about my diet – I just ate whatever I felt like, whenever.
However, by the end of 2013, I had to have a minor surgery that was actually very common and should not be a big deal – most people would have recovered in less than a week and their lives would resume as normal. It was, however, a completely different case for me. Some complications occurred during my operation and the doctor actually asked my parents if I was an alcoholic or a drug addict because those complications should only happen to people with such habits. After the operation, I could not seem to get well and had to go in and out of the hospital for at least 2-3 months. It was a nightmare – I could not go to work, I could not even go for a walk in the shopping mall without collapsing and being sent back to the hospital. I was extremely weak and it was then that I realize health – something that I had been taking for granted my whole life – is so important. Career goals? Gatherings with friends? Family dinners? Travelling around the world? I will not be able to do other things in life if I didn’t have a strong and healthy body. It was then that I decided once I got better, I wanted a complete change of my lifestyle. I wanted to nourish my body and I wanted to be healthy and strong.
After I got better in 2014, I came across Kayla Itsines’s Instagram page. Seeing how all those girls transformed their bodies – not just losing weight but becoming so much stronger – some of those girls were also sick before and some even went through cancer. But they did it – they took control of their own bodies and they achieved their fitness goals. Their stories were all so inspiring that I was determined I wanted to do the same – I wanted to become my own motivation one day. That was really the changing point of how I turned my life around. To me, living life to the fullest now means nourishing my body, staying healthy, fit and strong, and to travel as much as I can. My life now is filled with goals, purpose and meaning. I’ve never been happier.
Emi, Stay Fit and Travel, Body Transformation, Kayla Itsines, BBG
Besides doing the Kayla Itsines BBG, I noticed that you also incorporate extra weights workouts in your training. Why did you decide to add this extra workout to your program?
By Week 8, I decided to add lifting and weight training to my workouts in addition to Kayla’s BBG. It all started when I was doing research on heavy lifting for my boyfriend as he was trying to bulk up. The more research I did, the more I learned how it could also be beneficial to me in gaining physical strength. Even though I was happy with the BBG, Weeks 1-12 focuses quite a lot on cardio and losing weight, I would say, and by then getting ‘fit’ was no longer my only goal – I have so many other fitness goals, i.e., having very defined muscles, being extremely strong, etc.  Also, thanks to the BBG, I was feeling energized and active most of the time and was excited to try out some new exercises. Another reason is, of course, a girl who lifts sounds cool, hahaha, so it also motivated me to start lifting.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your health and fitness journey?
The biggest challenge for me, I would say, might also be the challenge for many girls who are working towards their ‘Goal Body’, which is the obsession with my own body image. I constantly feel too skinny or too fat and even though I already eat a very clean diet, I always feel like I overeat after every single meal and I would feel bad about myself. I know this is something completely mental and I am the only one who can change that so it is something that I am still working on. It is getting better, though. From Weeks 1-12, I did not even allow myself one cheat meal because I simply could not. Even one bite of ‘less-clean’ food made me want to throw up. I knew that it was not a sustainable lifestyle so from Week 13 onwards, I am forcing myself to be more relaxed now and allow myself 2-3 cheat meals a week. It is going a lot better now!
Besides health and fitness, your other passion is travelling! What has been your favourite travel destination so far?
This is too difficult, haha, there are too many places around the world that I love! The top three places that have a special place in my heart would be Andalucia in Spain, Mexico and also Malta. And now thinking about it, I also really want to add Amsterdam! There are many places that I love while I’m travelling but I know I would not wish to live at those places for a long time. But with the four places I just mentioned, it would be my dream to live at any one of them one day. I was so mesmerized, not just by the places, the scenery, the activities and the food, but, most importantly, the people and the culture.
Emi, Yoga, Stay Fit and Travel
What are your strategies for staying fit while on vacation?
This really depends on how long the vacation would be. If it is just a weekend getaway, I would highly recommend giving yourself a break if you already workout 4-5 days a week. However, if it is a vacation that lasts at least a week, I would say, try to plan ahead and squeeze out time for some short workout sessions to keep your body active and not ‘lazy’. Also, try to choose healthier options of food – but of course, experiencing local food is also one of the most precious life experiences so I would suggest trying to maintain a balance, i.e., eat healthy most of the time but also allow yourself to try out new food.
Emi, Vegetarian Pizza Rolls, wonton wrappers
Salmon and Avocado Quinoa Sushi, Emi, Stay Fit and Travel
I am very inspired by your commitment to eating clean – I always struggle with this! What are your tips for sticking to a clean, healthy diet?
I find one thing that works very well for me is to think back to the workouts I just did – those who do the BBG will know that every single workout is a killer – so do you really want to waste all of your hard work just because of a few bites of unhealthy food that is high in fat/sugar? Well, I don’t! After all, I already invested so much time and effort into my workouts, I do not want all of it to go to waste.
I also find cooking and experimenting with healthy and delicious recipes help a lot. I know I am not one who can eat salads for every meal. I am too much of a foodie! One of my hobbies right now is to make and bake delicious and healthy food – it is fun and the food is so yummy! When all of your clean food is delicious, it is no longer difficult to eat clean J Also, I would now reward myself with a cheat meal every Friday night and also sometimes on Saturday. So during the week I would push myself harder in order to ‘deserve’ the reward when the weekend comes!
What’s your favourite quick and easy healthy meal?
My favorite super quick and easy healthy meal would be my honey, papaya and banana smoothie oats bowl. I eat it almost every morning!
What are your workout essentials?
You can find my workout essentials here. (But in addition to that, I also have a pair of lifting gloves now!)
What advice do you have for those looking to start a healthy lifestyle?
If this is something that’s been on your mind and you would like to start, but am not sure how to – go for it anyway. You do not need to be a nutritionist or a personal trainer to live a healthy life. I started without much knowledge in both fitness and health. I did not even know what quinoa or overhead presses were. You would learn along the way, especially depending on your interests. Trust me, it is not hard work, and it is all worth it in the end. Another tip would be, for those who enjoy being active on social media: FOLLOW PLENTY OF fitness and health accounts on Instagram. Believe it or not, it helps a lot! That’s how I started. You can also share your own healthy lifestyle with others on social media and, as it gets more interactive with people who are also in the same fitness and health journey, you will learn and grow everyday. Being healthy will naturally become your way of life in just a short period of time!
As it’s getting to the end of the year, do you have any plans for 2015, fitness-wise?
It’s good that you asked this because I have already been writing my fitness goals and plans for 2015!
  1. I want to start doing more yoga, which is extremely good for the recovery of the body and also the mind. I would start enrolling in yoga classes and hopefully be able to do it at least three times a week (each class is 45-60 minutes)
  2. I would like to start pole dancing. I actually already registered for the course, which will start soon. I would like to get so strong and flexible that by the end of 2015, I would be able to do all those difficult flipping poses on the pole!
  3. I want to lift heavier and heavier and hopefully be able to lift my target weight, i.e., benchpressing my own weight
  4. I would finish the Kayla Itsines BBG 2.0 soon so I would like to keep doing at least three resistance training workouts a week and 1-2 cardio workouts even after the BBG is over.
  5. I want to be able to do 30 push-ups (on my toes) non-stop. Yes, sadly, I can now only do them on my knees!
Hope you enjoy reading about my interview with Marilyn, The Salonniere's Apartments! 

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

Homemade Creamy Honey Papaya Almond Milk

Homemade Papaya Almond Milk and Oats Recipe
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk with Rye Flakes and Rolled Oats, Topped with Fresh Fruits
There's a myth growing up (I don't know if its only in Hong Kong/ China/ Asia) that drinking Papaya Milk will make your boobs bigger LOL I have no idea if that's true - most probably not because....i mean, look at me. HAHA anyways, whether that's true or not, I love Papaya Milk because it tastes SO GOOD - my favorite way to drink it is definitely using my Creamy Pure Honey Papaya Almond Milk Recipe! It makes the taste even richer, and the flavors are just....out of the world. Here is the very very simple recipe:
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk Recipe
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk
Ingredients
Fresh Papaya (Peeled and cut into pieces) x 1 cup
Homemade Almond Milk x 1.5-2 cups (depends on how creamy you want it to be - for me personally, 2 cups are good enough! For the Homemade Almond Milk Recipe, you can find it at my earlier post: http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/homemade-almond-milk.html )
Pure Honey 2-3 tsp (depending on how sweet and fresh your papaya already is ;p)
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk and Oats Recipe
Homemade Papaya Almond Milk with Oats, serve with Chocolate Peanut Butter Rye Toast (with Banana, Rolled Oats and Raw Pecans)
Directions
Add all the ingredients into the blender/ food processor and blend on high for 30 seconds (longer if your blender is not as strong) until smooth. 
You can boil/ microwave (1 -2 minutes) it if you want to cook it to make Oatmeal. It makes oatmeal taste extra yummy! You can also just mix it with Rye Flakes/ Oats/ Muesli/ Fresh Fruits or just drink it alone - it is already yummy enough!
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk Oatmeal Recipe
Hot Oatmeal cooked with Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk, topped with Fresh Fruits, Rolled Oats, Chia Seeds and Raw Coconut Flakes
Homemade Papaya Almond Milk and Oats Recipe
Homemade Honey Papaya Almond Milk with Rolled Oats and Rye Flakes, topped with Fresh Fruits
Hope you  enjoyed my recipe, subscribe to my blog and stay tuned for the more delicious recipes and fitness tips!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies

Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies Recipe
Homemade Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies
PROBABLY THE BEST COOKIES EVER TRIED. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and very very light....DAMN GOOD omg. I was going to allow myself to eat only 2 of them a day..but I ended up eating 4 everyday ;P but its okay! These cookies are healthy and guilt-free so even if I cheated a little bit, I would think of it as cheating clean! (things we tell ourselves to feel better...)


Ingredients
Spelt Flour x 1.5 cups
Rolled Oats x 2.75 cups
Unsweetened Dried Cranberries x 3/4 cup
Vanilla Extract x 1 tbsp
Whole Eggs x 2
Brown Sugar x 1/2 cup
Coconut Oil x 1/2 cup
Pink Salt x 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder x 1 tsp
Baking Soda x 1 tsp
Cornstarch x 2 tsp
Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies Recipe
Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies


Directions
Mix Spelt Flour, Brown Sugar, Pink Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Then stir coconut oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in another mixing bowl until combined.
Pour the dry mix to the wet mix and stir well. Add the oats and cranberries into the mix and stir until well combined.
Preheat oven to 190C. Refrigerate the mix for 15-20 minutes so they can be easier to be rolled into cookie balls. For each cookie, scoop out two tbsp of the mix and roll it into a ball-shape. Then press it down to a flat cookie shape.
Put the cookies onto a parchment paper on the baking dish. Bake them in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they turn golden brown.

Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies Recipe

Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies Recipe


TA-DAH! your healthy and super yummy CRUNCHY AND CHEWY Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies are done! You can store them in an air-tight container for up to a week. Perfect for breakfast to go with a cup of coffee or milk/ during the day snacks/ after dinner sweet treats - they are just perfect to eat ANYTIME OF THE DAY. A must-try! <3

Healthy Chewy Spelt Oatmeal Cranberries Cookies Recipe

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Crispy Broccoli Feta Cheese Fritters

Crispy Broccoli Feta Cheese Fritters

So after my Zucchini Fritters (Recipe at earlier post: http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/crispy-zucchini-fritters-with-ricotta.html) - I have had some serious cravings for these yummy veggie fritters. I simply just cannot get over it! So this time, we tried Broccoli with Feta and...OH EMM GEE. They taste heavenly I swear! My mum loves them even more than the zucchini ones! And you do not even need a cheese dip this time because the fritters themselves are yummy enough (especially with the Feta - its cheesy enough! But of course, you can still eat them with a dip if you wish i.e. greek yogurt)
Crispy Broccoli Feta Cheese Fritters
Ingredients
Broccoli x 3 cups (Washed, Steamed and Chopped)
Feta Cheese x 1/3 Cup (Crumbled)
Scallions x 3 (Chopped)
Eggs x 3
Almond Meal x 2/3 cup
Black Pepper 1-2 tsp
Coconut Oil x 1 tbsp
Pink Salt x 1-2 tsp
Crispy Broccoli Feta Cheese Fritters

Directions
Dry broccoli with paper towel and squeeze the water out (do it carefully and do not mash the broccoli) - like the zucchini fritters, this is the most important part! Then beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and stir in all the ingredients until combined. For each fritter, scoop out 2 tbsp of the mix and flatten it with the spoon. Spray coconut oil/ olive oil onto a pan. Heat it up and pan-fry the fritters with medium low heat for 3-5 minutes on each side until they turn golden brown. TA-DAH, the yummy and crispy Broccoli Feta Cheese Fritters are now ready to be served!

Hope you like these yummy fritters and stay tuned for more delicious and healthy recipes!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2-minutes Microwave Chocolate Mini-Cake (IMPROVED VERSION)


Microwave Baked Chocolate Mini Cake Recipe
Microwave Baked Chocolate Mini Cake Recipe
Remember the last time I made a 3-minutes Microwave-baked Chocolate Banana Mini-cake(http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/3mins-microwave-baked-chocolate-banana.html)? Well, I was not too satisfied with the taste and texture - so here's an improved version of it and it takes even shorter time!! 2 minutes only - yes we can save one more minute WHOOOPWHOOOPS! haha jokes aside, trust me, this one is better and if you liked the previous one, I promise you will like this one even more! It is perfect if you are in a rush in the morning but still want something YUMS!
Microwave Baked Chocolate Mini Cake Recipe
Ingredients
Instant Roll Oats/ Steel Cut Oats x 30g
Banana x 1/2
Organic Raw Cacao Powder x 1 tbsp
Organic Almond Flour x 1 tbsp
Whole Egg x 1
Baking Soda x 1/4 tsp
Optional Toppings: Organic Raw Cacao Nibs and Organic Raw Coconut Flakes
Microwave Baked Chocolate Mini Cake Recipe
Directions
Mash banana in a mixing bowl, whisk it together with the Egg. Stir in Oats, Cacao Powder, Flour and Baking Soda until well combined. Pour the mix into a small bowl and microwave it for 1 minute. Take it out and let it stand for one minute, then put it back into the microwave for another minute. Top it with Raw Cacao Nibs and Coconut Flakes. TA-DAH! You will realize that this improved version of Chocolate Mini-cake rise so much better than the last one. And personally, I think it tastes better too! Bon Appetit!
Microwave Baked Chocolate Mini Cake Recipe

Hope you like this improved version of Chocolate mini-cake - subscribe to my blog and stay tuned for more yummy and healthy recipes!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel