Monday, June 29, 2015

Healthy Cranberry Cookies with Orange Zest


Ingredients
All purpose flour x 1.5 cup
Salt x 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda x 1/2 tsp
Whole Egg x 1
Vanilla extract x 1 tsp
Coconut oil x 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar x 1/3 cup
Dried Cranberries x 1 cup
Orange Zest of 1/2 orange

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Stir flour. salt and baking soda together in a mixing bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine egg, orange zest and vanilla extract together until they turn into a creamy mix. Pour in the flour mix, combine the two mix together and fold in the dried cranberries. 

Line baking tray with parchment paper and scoop the cookie dough onto the parchment paper. Remember to space them apart. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges turn golden brown. Let the cookies cool down for 10 minutes and ta-dah, these yummy and healthy cookies are not ready to be served!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pause and Reflect - 10 months into my Fitness Journey

I started my fitness journey 10 months ago and I have gone through ups and downs with many different phases i.e. 100% clean eating, bulimia, dirty bulking and etc. I would like to take this chance to pause and reflect on these 10 months to see where this journey has taken me not just fitness-wise, but also how I have grown as a person. I believe that many of you here - whether you are just beginning your fitness journey or if you are also already further down the road like me - you might have also gone through these phases and I thought it might be helpful if I share more of my journey with you. 




Week 0 - Week 12 (2014 Aug - Oct)
I just got back to Hong Kong from my 3 months trip around Europe and Africa and I was feeling rather unfit - I was pigging out so much and never really exercised - and more importantly, I needed some goals in my life. I came across Kayla Itsines' instagram account in July and so I decided to give it a try in August. 

I was so determined and so desperate to see results when I first started that I was obsessed with 100% clean eating, I quit drinking alcohol even though I just started working at a Wines and Spirits company, I woke up at 5am every morning to prepare my clean food and to head to the gym before work. I even added extra cardio (4-6 LISS + 1-2 HIIT a week) on top of my BBG workouts during my lunch hour in order to speed up the progress so I would always say no to my colleagues who wanted to eat lunch together. During compulsory lunch/ dinner gatherings I would normally just sit there refusing to eat anything unhealthy and I would not drink a sip. 
This was probably the most difficult of my fitness journey because I was literally driving myself insane. I was frustrated all the time that I could not see as much progress on my body as I would like, and I compared with other BBG girls on instagram all the time. I was also starting to hate the BBG workouts because they are just so so tough. As someone who never really exercised before, I found it difficult to even do simple exercises i.e. sit ups, jumping up and down for so many reps, push ups, commandos, burpees and etc. I felt like I wanted to pass out every time during the workouts. 
In terms of eating, I did 100% clean eating (http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/11/clean-eating-diet.html) and it was defs not an easy thing to do in Hong Kong. There are not that many clean eating restaurants around Hong Kong and it could be difficult to get ingredients around the supermarket to prepare food at home. It changed not only my lifestyle but also that of my family. My parents tried to prepare healthy food for me everyday and my mum came up with all kinds of healthy snacks/ meals recipes that turned out to be very popular with you all on social media! It could be fun at times but most of the time it was actually very stressful and time consuming to keep up with the diet and also the sharing on social media - we woke up really early in the morning everyday to prepare the food, and we still needed use a lot of time to get a good photo of the food and type up the recipe. My boyfriend also had to look for all the healthy places around Hong Kong to bring me on date nights because I would not eat otherwise. I was also so obsessed with clean eating and so afraid that even a bite of cheat meal would affect my progress - that was when I started to have bulimia and would go into the toilet to make myself throw up even a bite of food that I felt like I should not be eating. 
I was also starting to get obsesssed with social media because that was the time when my following base on instagram was growing the fastest. I was anxious all the time to see how many likes I was getting and believe it or not, I was actually losing much sleep over this.

Gymming, blogging and clean-eating started to consume my life and became the only things I did apart from my job. I neglected my social life, my friends and looking back, I would actually say this was the unhealthiest and most stressful time of my fitness journey and honestly I do not ever want to go back to that. However, I am still glad that  I started my fitness journey, I might have do certain things wrong but at least it was a beginning!

Week 13 - Week 24 ( 2014 Nov - 2015 Jan)
By the end of my BBG1.0 journey (Week 12), I had a sudden realization that I could not continue my lifestyle as it was because it was not sustainable. I might be able to see more defined abs but I was not happy. I still remember I went for a Halloween buffet dinner with my boyfriend to celebrate finishing BBG1.0 and I could not stop stuffing french fries and deep fried food into my mouth. Afterwards, I was also not able to stop myself from throwing up in the toilet, even knowing that it was not good for my body. It was a very scary feeling to not be able to control your own body and it was the moment that I finally snapped out of this 100% clean eating phase and started allowing myself some more cheat meals (http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2014/12/cheat-meals-okay-or-not.html). 
I also decreased the number of cardio exercises I did to only 1 LISS + 1 HIIT a week - allowing me chances to have lunch with my colleagues and friends and hence a better social and work life. I started to try out different yummy restaurants with my boyfriend and family again and it was a lot of fun! I was reminded how important food was to me and I would always, always be a huge foodie! I also started trying out pole dancing and it was a very exciting addition to my gym workout routines. All in all, my fitness journey was starting to be more balanced in terms of workouts and food. However, I started to spend even more time on social media with different sponsorship and collaborations coming in. Please do not get me wrong, it was very very exciting at first to get all the amazing products and I was very grateful and felt lucky to be doing it. However, as the products started to pile up more and more at home and I did not have enough time to always make good photos for them, I started to get really stressed. Weekends with boyfriends became = photoshoot and photoshoot and photoshoot. It was the worst during our trip to Vietnam in January because it was not like any of the trips we took before. Every morning when we woke up we would count the products we needed to take on that day and we would spend the whole day trying to get good pictures for them. Looking back on the photos, there were not many of us together or photos that captured memorable moments. It was another wake up call for me that I need to start focusing more on my real life instead of the one online.

Week 25 - Now (2015 Feb - Jun)
I would say this Feb was the turning point of my fitness journey - I started to get really relaxed about everything haha and I changed to a gym that is right next to my office so I could gym during lunch instead of morning before work. I no longer spent much time making food/ recipe for instagram as you could probably already tell. I still eat 70% healthy during the week but only 30% healthy during the weekends. For those of you who followed my personal a/c would see I have been having manyyy cheat meals. I do not really count how many I have and I mostly just eat whatever I feel like. I have also started social drinking again. My workouts are also much more chill (http://stayfitandtravel.blogspot.hk/2015/03/updated-workout-routine-v2.html). 
I have also got comments that I have been slacking with my instagram account. My abs were less defined and my arms were less strong. But I guess it was during this period that I realize there are other things that are more important in life and that deserve more of my attention i.e. relationships, work, family and etc. I am not encouraging everyone to not clean eat and just eat whatever junk food, but this is what works for better for me right now. Although I do plan to start eating cleaner from next week on and step up my workout routine a bit and to add yoga as part of my fitness journey! Ready to get my fitness and flexibility level back on track!
As you can see, just like everyone else, my fitness journey is far far from perfect. It should not be a sprint - I treated it like one when I first started and it could not last. I am still figuring out a way to find a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable in the long term but one thing I know is that, never give up! It is a journey that might be tough at times but will be worth while in the end.
Hope you enjoy my post! Subscribe for more fitness related posts to come!

Emi xx
@stayfitandtravel