@katscapades tells us to forget the Yo-Yo diet and embrace the #monacodiet #beauty #health

Once again, our health, fitness (and travel) guru Katrina Santos-Baron (www.katscapades.net) shows us how to live healthier…and maybe lose a few pounds in the process! So have a good old read, take the points on board, give it a whirl and let us know what you think!! 

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One fitness quote said, ‘it takes 4 weeks for you to notice, 8 weeks for your friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world’.  I started a Weight Loss Challenge last March but had a major relapse when I had friends come to stay for two weeks! (oops!) I almost gained what I just lost, so I discovered the importance of juicing and decided to do an Alpha-reset (5-day juicing detox) to get back into shape. Juicing has been a habit since then. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things, and discovered my passion for running. So taaaaaaaaadaaaaaaaaaa, I’ve lost over 5.6 kilos and just above 10cm (3.9 inches) around my waist. Yaaaaaaaaaahooooooooooooooo!

I’m so loving a healthy lifestyle. For me, it’s not just a fad or an excuse to sometimes splurge in the organic section of the supermarket. It’s way beyond counting calorie intakes or trying to join the ‘green’ club. It’s giving utmost value to ourselves, like valuing something that you’d been meaning to have and finally got it (just like when I received my first Chanel bag – it was treated like a V.I.P.!). Taking care of our body is a must, it’s the only one we have!

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I was never really a fan of crash diets. I was too skinny before anyways. In fact, I used to eat a lot! Like 3 cups of rice and meat plus a lot of sweets on one sitting three to four times a day! However, as they say, our bodies start to change as we reach the age of 25. Though I believed I had a healthier lifestyle since I moved to London (except for the cake moments with my best friend – which occurred on most days of my London life, ooops), I kinda felt this body-changing-after-25 particularly when I got married two years later. The joys of cooking and discovering amazing eating places, plus the ‘dining bond’ with my hubby (with no exercise) during the first 8 months of our marriage resulted to unpleasant muffin tops! And there I was, tempted to try different crash diets but I thought best not to. Motivated to lose weight eventually paved the way for me to really get hooked into maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I recently had some dietary advice from a Monaco-based nutritionist  that really helped me on my fitness journey. I admit that I’m not 100% following it (I’m still human by the way), but it’s good to have it at the back of my head which acts like a little voice whenever I’m about to cook, do my grocery shopping and as I put my trainers on. I shared it with some of my friends and they’re happy with the results. This may not be new to you – I’ve known some of the items he shared before I met him but it didn’t just remind me, it also made me more aware about the importance of what we eat and do to how it affects our body

  • THE GOLDEN RULES OF NUTRITION
  • Do not ever starve yourself. When you starve, your metabolism slows down. You might be losing weight but gaining more afterwards, also known as the yo-yo effect. Like what C. Helgoe said, ‘if weight loss is your only motivation, and you jump into the latest fast being used by Hollywood stars getting ready for Oscar gowns, your program is likely to backfire’. Remember, your diet should be eating more of the right foods at the right time.
  • Eliminate flour, gluten and junk in your meals. I know this is super hard, eh?!
  • NO to dairy products – milk and cheese, huhuhuhu…. Goat’s cheese is ok (it’s not from the cow :p)
  • Here’re the good news – carbs are ok! YES! But only until 2pm.
  • Eat fruits only in the morning as most fruits have high sugar content.
  • Salt = Cellulites. Yikes!
  • NO to GMO too – choose organic.
  • Drink protein shakes for breakfast (could be mixed with fruits) and drink another one in the evening (without the fruits)
  • Fats will only be burned after 40 mins of cardio since the first 40 mins are only for sugar-burning
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep for cells to regenerate properly (natural anti-aging)
  • [Goes without saying] Drink loads of water
  • Don’t forget the veggies!

LET THE MONACO DIET BEGIN:

So here’s how my daily diet and activity looks like:

  • Between 6:30 to 7:00am: It’s cooking time! So meanwhile, I’m drinking Juice PLUS+® Complete Vanilla or Chocolate Shake. I like it how it is so I only add water. Maybe one day I’ll try making smoothies with it.
  • About 7ish: My hubby and I normally have eggs for breakfast. Eggs are packed with protein and healthy fats – good for muscle growth and burning body fats partnered with superfood – avocado and spinach served with green juice on the side.

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Once in every 2 weeks, I make tapsilog (a Filipino dish composed of beef, eggs and fried rice but I cook it a non-stick frying pan – so no oil or sometimes a tiny bit of organic olive oil). Oh, try frying tomatoes with olive oil and basil – they go well with the eggs too!

  • Between 8am to 11am: I have some fruits on my working desk.
  • Around 12ish: I’m happy with a salad especially during the heatwave in the Riviera. Have you seen my crispy lettuce with strawberry salad dressing? If not, please click here. Sometimes I eat rice or whole wheat pasta with protein and fiber (so that’s meat and veggies). I also try adding some twists to the traditional dishes such as including spinach to spag bol sauce for instance served over gluten-free pasta or zoodles (zucchini-made-like-noodles). Who says healthy food is boring and tasteless?! I disagree! 🙂

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  • When my hubby gets home at 5pm: We have an early supper mostly composed of protein and fiber (I also cook with carbs for his packed lunch the next day but I try not to eat carbs during this time, til 2pm, remember?!). Sometimes I make another glass of fresh juice.
  • Between 7pm to 8pm: Trainers on, off we go running. Since it’s been too hot lately to run by the beach, I’ve been running lately at the treadmill (3 – 4 times a week). If we get hungry after the run, we just boil 2-3 eggs each eating only the white. Bye, bye yolk!
  • 9pm: Juice PLUS+® Complete Vanilla or Chocolate Shake
  • 10ish to 11ish: Bed time!

Cheat day once a week is OK but if you sweat your ass off the gym and become aware of what’s good for the body and not, you’ll still resort to eating more of the right food and feel [a bit] guilty if not, therefore limiting unhealthy intake (if I used to eat up to 6 cupcakes at one sitting, now, 1 cupcake is enough during my cheat day).

When trying to lose weight, it is also important to think of these:

  • Why are you doing it. It’s an awesome feeling being able to fit into the clothes you want to wear, waking up with a flatter tummy, notice your skin looks younger and glowing everyday without putting on cosmetics, being able to run faster and be more mentally alert during working hours. As for me, I DON’T WANT TO BE SKINNY, I WANT TO BE FIT. I’d like to prepare my body as healthy as possible – who knows, we’ll have a baby soon? 🙂
  • Keep a diary of your progress. I did 🙂 It didn’t happen overnight, didn’t happen over a period of 10 days as well. It took me months and learned a lot along the way (and still learning!). Aside from my messy notebook, I also documented my progress @katscapades in Instagram and thru my previous blogs:
  • Do the alternatives. Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the grocery instead of taking the car or bus, go for a fresh morning walk instead of snooze-snooze-go-away bed mood. Just be active. Move a lot. Y’know what I mean 🙂
  • Read the labels. Geesh, I really do spend time reading labels (in French) at the supermarket!
  • Be fun and creative! Sooner or later, you’ll discover that healthy chef within you.
  • Nobody’s perfect. You may feel you’re behind your regime but don’t panic – slow progress is better than no progress at all.
  • Connect with like-minded people. Share and start inspiring others too – it’ll make you feel like a million-euro-monaco-baby!
  • Take the holistic route. Have a balanced diet, regular exercise, fill your life with laughter and love. La vie est belle!

Cheers to a healthier us! xoxo

P.S. I just called it the ‘Monaco diet’ since the nutritionist is based there. Results on individuals may vary, consult your doctor first. But overall, I recommend a healthy lifestyle 🙂

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Always running on a late lunch? Then treat yourself to a Tuna Steak via @katscapades

Even though breakfast is the most important meal of the day (what…you didn’t know that?!) Many of you are making your excuses that you’re too busy for lunch also (so like, when do you actually eat?!) So we turned to our health guru Katrina Santos-Baron to see if she could advise on something healthy and delicious that is worth stopping work for! And here we are…!

You can read more of Katrina’s posts on www.katscapades.net and follow her on Twitter @katscapades

Hi Snoochers! Here’s a quick recipe post. I don’t know what to call this dish (maybe Sesame Seared Tuna with Grilled Garlic-flavoured Aubgergine) but since I’d been having sushi for the past two nights, it kinda inspired me to make a tuna dish and it turned out like this:

Sesame Seared Tuna

I can’t get enough of eating fish lately. Let me share this quick and easy recipe:

  • Marinate the tuna steak with 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of toasted sesame oil, juice from 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove chopped, 1 green chilli chopped, 1″ ginger chopped and pinch of pepper. Put it in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge for at least 3 hours. I was suppose to cook this last night but we went to a sushi bar so mine was marinated overnight.
  • Take the marinated tuna from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking so it gets to room temperature. Season it with sesame seeds.
  • Pan-fry it using olive oil for 30 seconds each side  to leave the middle a bit pinkish/raw (make sure you use good quality tuna). Set it aside with the plain rice.
  • In the meantime, grill 1 aubergine cut into slices and sprinkled with garlic powder. Oh, don’t forget to drizzle some olive oil. I think I grilled it for about 5 minutes. Once cooked, place it with the tuna and rice.
  • Put the leftover marinade sauce into the pan for under 2 minutes (make sure it’s just the sauce and no bits of garlic, chilli or ginger)
  • Pour it over the fish, aubergines and rice. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serve hot.

This dish is so yummy and filling. I am confident that I can do 5km run later tonight 🙂

And all you busy workers can make it for your packed lunch too!

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Happy healthy eating!

Kx

 

Its a heatwave so cool down with this healthy salad from @katscapades #food

She never fails to get us eating the yummiest and healthiest food… so if you’re over heating (not over eating) this weekend, then its time to try this delicious recipe from our resident health guru…you can find this and much much more on her site Katscapades

Let’s talk about freshness baby! Due to the popular demand (naks), here’s the quick and easy recipe for the Crispy lettuce w/ cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, herbs & my own ‪#‎homemade‬ strawberry salad dressing for lunch.

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Ingredients (Salad):

  • Super fresh organic lettuce is a must (to get the crispy feeling)
  • Cherry tomatoes ❤
  • Feta Cheese in Olive Oil with herbs (those you get in jars) or you may use parmagiano regiano as an alternative

Ingredients (Homemade Strawberry Salad Dressing):

  • 1 cup of fresh organic strawberries
  • 2 tsp of bio (organic) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 2 tsp of bio (organic) olive oil
  • honey (optional)

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Preparation:

  • Prepare the salad: lettuce, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.
  • Drizzle some of the olive oil and herbs from the feta cheese jar into the salad
  • On a separate bowl, crush the strawberries using fork (I also used a spoon) then add the apple cider vinegar, olive oil and mustard. Add more of the ingredients based on your desired taste.

Voila! Bonap! ❤

Planning a trip to Italy, you wouldn’t want to miss this relaxing spa weekend in Lake Garda! #travel #health #spa #beauty

Once again our European travel and beauty writer Kat Baron is on the road giving us the low-down on the best places to stay, indulge and relax in Europe, this time its the turn of a spa retreat in Lake Garda. To read more of Kat’s adventures, check out her own blog Katscapades.

So in the last few weeks my husband and I had the special birthday treat of visiting one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan! An amazing city and I had a fantastic time, but after the hustle and bustle of bumping into fashionistas and models everywhere I turned, I needed a break!! So I found a mini-spa break just 60mins from Milan, my destination: Lake Garda!

Living in Nice, Lake Garda is nearly a 5-hour drive from our home. We are already used to long drives this time last year, we drove from Nice to Barcelona (about 7-8hours) but its incomparable to our 12-hour snowy journey from Geneva last winter. We’d been to a lot of places around Italy and France in our used and abused blue car! Too bad I can’t drive, but I know, deep down, I’m meant to be driven, lol).

My holiday checklist

Anyway, as I was sat in the passenger seat for the journey, I was able to collect my thoughts of the do’s and don’ts of a long drive to a fun destination:

  • Good night sleep prior – check.
  • All essentials stuff packed – check. (It’s very irritating knowing that you left something at home)
  • Filling breakfast – check. (We had freshly made orange, apple, carrot juice at home followed by egg-cheese-muffin sandwich and pain au chocolat pour moi! I know it’s buttery but one won’t hurt!)
  • Cash, cards, and coins – check.
  • Water – check.
  • Comfy clothes – check.

I was set and ready to go! See:

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I had no make-up on, just my usual moisturizer with SPF 24 and I just pinned my long grown fringe with hair on one side.

Are we nearly there yet?! 

After driving on the autoroute (fr) /autostrada (it) for hours, we knew we were getting near our destination as we drove through the gorgeous grape vineyards. We left Nice at 9ish and arrived in Cola’ Di Lazise, a small province of Verona southeast side of the lake at around 2ish. We booked 2 nights at the lovely Villa Dei Cedria Veneto villa designed by Luigi Canonica of Milan (the architect whose works include Foro Bonaparte, the Milan Arena and the Carcano Theatre) and built at the turn of the nineteenth century (the villa is more or less 200 years old). When the villa was restored, rooms of various sizes were created on the upper floors. As a result, it can host even the most demanding customers in an exquisite and elegant setting. In 1943 Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took it over as his residence and used it as the German headquarters for all of northern Italy.  The halls on the ground floor of the villa welcome guests in an aristocratic yet relaxing setting.

Upon entering the gates, we parked our car infront the main door and we were welcomed by their friendly staff. The reception has a huge table and what caught my attention was the elegant lobby (as seen on the left photo) with a well-preserved chandelier (other parts of the villa like the grand dining area as seen on the right has chandeliers), high ceilings and antique but chic furniture. image_3

The villa even preserved some of the original furniture dating 150-200 years old!

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This chessboard was amazing! The statues on the lower left side are 400 years old!

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The staff took care of our luggage and we were taken to the admin office just few steps from the reception (y’know, the usual check-in process). After that, one of the staff took us to our room as the others took care of our luggage. When we entered the room, I got even more excited!

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Our room was just lovely, with satin brown and black bed covers and curtains with a hydromasssage pool in our room – YES, IN OUR ROOM. I knew it before but I wasn’t expecting it could be this nice. Amaze balls.

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As explained by the staff, the pool has 3 different types of massages and it has speakers for CD, radio, tv and there’s even an iPhone (4) dock! Annoyingly we weren’t able to use this as we both have an iPhone 5, but anyway, it was just fab. The purple lights hanging from the high ceilings as you can see on the upper left photo change colours to give a more romantic, relaxed ambiance.

I also love the bathroom. It has a starry-effect ceiling, his and hers basin over a wooden drawer with white bathroom accessories, towels and toiletries.

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Oh, look at the shower – it also changes colour!

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The Villa dei Cedri is situated in an enormous park and its windows overlook the grounds.

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The park will charm plant lovers because it has rare species of trees that are easy to identify, as there are detailed signs under the most important ones (posts are available in Italian and German only).  There are also several sun beds which you can rent for €4 (you can ask the hotel reception for the wrist bands or pay cash at the park). Look at this fitting room, isn’t that cute?!

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Before heading back to the room, we dropped by at the Centro Benessere to book our treatment and massage for the following day. There are few golf cars in the park, not sure if hotel residents can rent it to tour the grounds but I borrowed it anyways.

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It was drizzling and a bit cold (about 14C degrees) so we headed back to the room. But who cares about the cold rain when we had a hot tub in our bedroom?!

We chilled out for a bit having drinks (btw everything in the minibar is free), watching movies on Sky and really just relaxing and enjoying our time.

For dinner, we tried going back to the Trattoria but it’s fully booked – so make sure you book ahead! So we decided to try the restaurant inside the park just next to the villa called Ristorante Villa Moscardo. According to the staff, it dated back 400 years!

We made a good choice. The food was just so delicious! We skipped the hors d’oeuvres and started with the first course. I had Paccheri “Villa Moscardo” basil-tomatoes-parmesan cheese-pecorino cheese and Mark had Tortiglioni alla carbonara with zucchini flowers, zucchini julienne and crispy leek. For the Main Course, I had Beef fillet grilled and Mark had Slices of beef on a bed of Rucola and parmesan cheese.

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The food was really good and we were so stuffed that we just shared Crema Catalana for dessert.

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All of these with half a bottle of house wine and water came to €67.

Oh, before I forget, look at this garden view from our bedroom window:

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Day 2!

Surprisingly, I woke up early the next day (5am but I tried to sleep and got up just before 7). This was not normal! We headed to the breakfast room at 7:30 but went back to the room since breakfast is not served until 8am. We’re early birds I know!

Breakfast’s served in one of the villa’s beautiful rooms. There was a variety of cereals, cooked breakfast, bread, cold and hot drinks and Italian cakes!

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There were also tables and chairs outside, perfect on a sunny morning. It was a bit chilly at 11C degrees so we were sitting near the fireplace.

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After breakfast, we plunged into the hydromassage in our room for about 30 minutes…why wouldn’t you!

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Then we got ready and walked towards the lake. The villa is located at Parco Termale Garda and this park has two small lakes.

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It was 14c degrees outside but the lake’s temperature is about 34-36c degrees and the hydromassage pool on the lake was 39c degrees. Imagine floating on the thermal lake and seeing the beautiful skies and trees as you open your eyes. That’s what I did. I was floating and swimming almost all over! I just love it! There wasn’t many people as well so it kind of felt like we’ve got the whole place to ourselves!  It was a refreshing feeling and I didn’t feel cold at all. The lakes are open from 9am and also open for night swimming on certain days.

We stayed at the lake for about 2 hours and went back to the room to get ready for the next treat in the spa. We didn’t really feel hungry for lunch after the big breakfast – which is surprising for me!

The Spa!

Our spa experience started with a body treatment for 60 minutes. I wanted to try the Grape Treatment (regenerating massage rich in antioxidants) but I had Spice Treatment, a tonifying and relaxing massage with essential oils of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and myrrh as recommended by the staff. My husband had a Fango Treatment described as, “The Dead Sea salt scrub is a skin exfoliant made of salt crystals from the Dead Sea, a body of water renowed for its healing, mineral infused waters. This treatment stimulates the skin, muscles and nerves, cleanses the pores and improves blood circulation and the texture of dull, bumpy and tired skin“. After the treatment, we both had a Tibet Massage for 60 minutes- holistic massage during and after which you will experience a pleasant feeling of warmth, lightness and deep relaxation. Himalayan stones and bundles filled with Dead Sea salts combined with almond oil give you a feeling of well-being and regeneration. This massage has naturally exfoliating, toning, draining, oxygenating, anti-cellulite functions. It was just sooooooooo relaxing….

After the 120-min treatment and massage, we wanted to maximise the spa’s facilities after having a cup of tea in the relaxation room overlooking the indoor pool, we tried the sauna.

The spa also has other services from mani / pedi, facial treatments, waxing and tanning.

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Hair/Skincare tips when spa-ing

After this amazing day of pampering, my skin felt so soft and my hair a little bit oily. But seeing that we spent a lot of time on water prior to our spa treatment, it is important to keep our hair and skin healthy and hydrated not just during holidays when too much time on water’s involved but also on our day-to-day life. I’d like to share some hair/skincare tips:

  • Apply sunblock (well it wasn’t sunny when we were at the lake so I didn’t) and moisturizer or body oil after dipping
  • Wax unwanted hairs the day
  • In case you’re over excited in the hydromassage like moi, do not exceed over 20 minutes dipping into 39c degrees; use aroma therapy oils for indoor hydromassage (the villa provided a tropical scent one which we both love)
  • I usually tie my hair up when swimming so it doesn’t go all over the place. I also make sure I use hair conditioner especially after dipping into water.
  • I had no make-up (no edit, no filter) on most photos I took and posted on this  blog. I give credit to having a healthy lifestyle (eating clean, juicing and exercising) for bringing great results to my hair, skin and even nails.

That evening, we drove to Verona city-centre, 30-min from Villa Dei Cedri) passing thru the green vineyards and few outlets. We wanted to see the famous Romeo and Juliet’s balcony but we got there a bit late (it closes at 6:30 pm). It was a lovely way to finish off our trip to Lake Garda!

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We walked around the lovely town and sat in one of the restaurants for dinner.

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We had the typical Italian dish – pizza, pasta and risotto with drinks for about €50 🙂 Eccellente!

The next day, we had a quick walk around the park after breakfast, packed our stuff and we hit the road to Milan… Say Ciao Milano!

Thanks for reading. If you are looking for a relaxing, romantic, thermal-water-experience and close-to-the-nature break with your loved one, family, kids or friends, I highly recommend this place.

Villa Dei Cedri S.p.a. Piazza di Sopra, 4 – 37017 Cola di Lazise (VR) Italy | http://www.villadeicedri.com

Standard Rooms (Bed and Breakfast) starts from €180 per night at The Villa. There are also residences inside and nearby the park. For more photos, please click here.

Let’s juice it baby with the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset #weightloss #health #lifestyle #juicing

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Our travel writer Katrina Santos-Baron took a break from travelling to glamorous locations and instead spent the last week on a health trip that didn’t even require her to leave her home town! She shared her findings with Snoochie Boochies to show the benefits of tackling weight loss and healthy living through juicing, and more specifically the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset. 

Follow her journey here and on her amazing blog: http://katscapades.net

Over to you Kat! 

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 13.19.59Two months ago, I decided to go on a Weight Loss Challenge as I wanted to lose 5 kilos (11 lbs) that I gained over the last few months.  I started it as I was coming into the realisation that married life is not an excuse to gain more inches around the waist! And I found along the way, that there’s more to life than just losing those ‘muffin tops’ I gained from a happy marriage  *giggles* and fitting once again into my size 8 dresses, jeans and stylist’s clothes, what actually happened was that I rediscovered the beauty of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And who wouldn’t want to wake up with a flatter tummy?!

Looking back at my diet, I realised I was eating a lot of oily and processed foods, particularly when my husband and I had a few friends over from our native Philippines. (I was cooking a lot of Filipino delicacies, such as binagoongan, ginataang alimasag, sinigang, rice and all for 2 weeks – not to forget the deserts on top!  – oh, good times). I applied the polite portion principle though. During this time, I noticed that my skin started to breakout and I almost gained what I just lost. Phew… So, being inspired by some of my fitness partners, I bought a juicer and I started juicing various produce.

I can officially announce that my juicer has been the busiest machine in my kitchen! I’ve been experimenting lots of different mixes, I find it de-stressing. My husband and I have moved on to replacing one meal with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice (mostly dinner) and this has been going on for few weeks now. Over this time, I noticed that I’ve lost 3 kilos and few cm off my waistline. Yahoooooo! Well that comes with also working out almost 5 days week, a holistic approach is the key!

I also noticed that with juicing, my skin got clearer with a pinkish glow effect, and I am more energetic especially when I do my usual fitness exercises.

Juicing

Its not just me who has seen the benefits:

One of my friends who inspired me to start juicing also shared her juicing experience:

“I have been juicing on and off for almost a decade already. But seriously juiced (everyday) just this year. Our family doctor recommended a recipe to make us healthier and have glowing skin noticeable in just a week. So we tried it – it was great! We went back to it this year and I really noticed a big difference in my energy levels so continued my research (since that recipe tasted horrible) and found a whole heap of new recipes to try. 

Since I started juicing, I noticed I got more energy and my skin was just glowing. There is that rosy pink glow to it. I can do so much more in the day than I used to. The energy is the most important change that I noticed. I became stronger. Also, I am a frustrated runner. My knees hurt everytime I tried to run, even for just a few seconds. But more recently I am able to do a minute of running, alternating with brisk walking then running again. I’m faster now. I’ve always known it has got to be the juicing. And just today, I discovered that cucumbers help lubricate your joints. I juice cucumber a lot, so now I know why all of a sudden I can run for a bit longer. I got hooked. And been sharing the benefits of juicing to my friends since.”

You can see why my friend is my juicing guru. We’ve been talking about different types of juicers (centrifugal vs masticating juicers and how we can’t wait to get our hands on Hurom HU-700), various juice mixes and health advice.

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The Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset 

As I got more serious about juicing I’ve started an Alpha Step: 5-day Reset. This means that I’ll be eating no food for a period of 3 days but instead, replacing all the meals with 100% fresh veggies and fruit juice every 3 hours up to 6 times a day and consuming 10-12 cups daily, then slowly introducing protein on Day 4 & 5 then back to eating clean and regular exercise.

Here’s a helpful quick-start article by Drew Canole about this – please click here. I don’t think I have the symptoms of poor digestion as mentioned in the article but I believe my body deserves a break from heavy food intake. Drew also stated that, “Alpha Step”…is the beginning step in any new workout regime or fitness goal. Okay, game.

So here’s my Alpha Step Diary:

The day before:

I started to read few articles and blogs about Alpha Step so that I get a clear understanding of what am I getting myself into. I got really excited, unfortunately, and planned my grocery shopping for the following day.

This is it. Day 1:

  • Weight: 57.7kgs
  • I had warm water with lemon as usual (let’s call this L-H20 and this is different from squeezing lemon on drinking water under room temperature; to cut the long story short, the difference is the water temperature)
  • I had a banana-kiwi smoothie for breakfast since bananas do not go in the juicer. I blended it well to ensure that it’s less thicker than a normal smoothie, almost close to the juice texture.
  • I quickly went to the shop nearby and picked few essentials
  • I’m glad I had a good 60-min cardio at the gym last Saturday as this programme prohibits excessive exercise / lifting weights for 5 days. I just did few squats at home.
  • I did the normal no.2 in the morning (sorry I had to write this in case this changes along the course)
  • Three hours later, I juiced 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots, 2 red apples, half beet root and a handful of spinach
  • My next juice was 4 big tomatoes and 2 small carrots – kinda sour…
  • I was drinking loads of water squeezed with lemon all day
  • I felt kinda dizzy, maybe that’s my body adjusting or I was just spending too much time infront of the computer, anyways, I kept on reminding myself – I can do it. Here’s my work desk with my juice (sorry it’s a bit cluttered, I usually clear it up after):

My work desk

  • I really wanted to stuff my mouth with the leftover M&Ms.. Lol.. But I thought, it’s not worth it!
  • My husband picked me up to do grocery shopping and we spent nearly £85 on produce! Okay, this is not a cheap diet but I know it’s a good health investment.
  • I got a bit hungry so I made beetroot, carrot and cucumber juice – not my favourite mix so I had water with lemon immediately
  • This is the most challenging bit: cooking salmon and aglio e olio for my husbands dinner. Okay, okay, okay… I had to hold my breath and focus on my goal: detox to lose unwanted fats and be healthier. Fine.
  • Of course I had to go to the loo frequently due to the amount of liquids drank all day (not to do no.2 – just want to make it clear)
  • For the first time in months, I felt sleepy at 9:30pm and went to bed early.

Ain’t That Easy. Day 2:

  • Weight: 56.5 kilos – I already lost 1.2 kilos
  • I had the same in the morning: L-H20 plus banana and kiwi juice-like smoothie
  • I didn’t take any fiber supplement as advised and there wasn’t a change in my toilet routine, I was still able to do no.2 at around the same time (sorry, it’s gross but I have to include it)
  • I juiced greens for lunch: broccoli, bell pepper, granny smith apple, cucumber, celery and parsley.

Green Juice

  • The dizziness had gone and I felt energetic. However I am paranoid of the pimple-popping-detox-result. I’ve read few blogs and they’ve experienced severe breakouts during the juice fast. Thankfully, no red spots on my skin yet. I guess that’s because I’ve been juicing already and been avoiding greasy junk food prior to this.
  • The green juice made me full for the next few hours until late in the afternoon. I’ve been eating Juice Plus Chewables (made from real fruits and veggies in chewy form – it melts before it even goes down to the esophagus so I guess it’s okay).
  • Another challenge: I prepared roast chicken, potatoes with onions, red and yellow bell peppers for my husband’s dinner – now that made me hungry! I was okay the whole day until this came along! I thought it was going to be easy but it made me crave for hot food!  The whole house smelled of roasted chicken and I realised this is not easy.
  • So I made a juice: half of a red bell pepper, 1 apple, 2 carrots and 2×1″ ginger. I don’t know what I was thinking – it really tasted awful.  I only had few gulps and I had to bin it… I felt really bad, I hate wasting food!
  • To give myself a little treat, I made my one of my favourite mixes – beet, carrot and apple, my comfort juice (others call it the ‘Miracle Drink’) and went to bed at past 10ish

I’m Still Alive: Day 3:

  • Yes, I’m still alive! lol. The thought of ‘no food’ was a bit scary to begin with but thinking of all the benefits from juicing and upon reading the testimonials, obviously this plan is created for a nourishing detox and I woke up happier this morning. It’s the last day anyway and tomorrow I can insert egg whites in my diet, then fish the day after.
  • This morning, I weighed 56.1 (dropped almost 1 lbs), lost 2.6cm off my waistline and no breakouts – yahooooo!
  • After the usual L-H20, I had a smoothie made of 2 bananas and a cupful of strawberries for breakfast and that kept me full for hours (I’ve been drinking water with lemon in between as well)
  • Normal toilet routine – meaning my digestion is still good 🙂
  • Got a bit hungry so I prepared a juice made of 1 pack of asparagus, 2 tomatoes and 1 carrot.

Aspharagus Juice

  • At around half 5 in the afternoon, I made an orange juice (using 6 oranges). Did you know that oranges are good for the skin? That’s one beauty secret revealed!
  • I wanted to join my husband in the gym at around 7ish but I opted not too since the plan prohibits excessive exercise as I mentioned earlier. I also have loads of unfinished work to do anyways…
  • Like in the past two days, the most challenging bit comes when I prepare dinner for my husband. I cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise (another favourite). I thought to myself, “It’s okay, Kat. Few more days and you can eat a polite portion of SpagBol. You’ve come this far, so don’t give up”.  Hope you don’t get me wrong, I’m not depriving myself – I’m detoxing just for 5-days!
  • For dinner, I made 1 beet root, 1 carrot, 1 apple, 1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks and handful of parsley.

Smiling on a Gloomy: Day 4:

  •  I woke up on a gloomy and rainy morning but I feel lighter. I went to the bathroom and I weighed 55.3kgs (1.7 lbs lost) and dropped 1cm off my waistline. No breakouts on my skin apart from a dried tiny spot on my forehead (I had this before I started the Alpha Step!)
  • I had 4 boiled eggs whites on a empty stomach replacing one juice consumption. I was so excited to have egg whites. I seemed like I’ve never felt as excited as this about egg whites in my entire life! That was filling and I had a good burp (excuse me!).
  • Banana, strawberry and kiwi smoothie for brunch at 11:45
  • I realised my no.2 didn’t take place (I hadn’t taken any fibre supplement yet)
  • I made another green juice: 3 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, parsley, broccoli and 1 lemon. Tangy, tangy…
  • I had another 2 egg whites for dinner 🙂
  • I was sleepy at around 10ish but was watching a movie with my husband, so ended up staying awake until about midnight. I was a bit cheeky and tried one of his M&Ms..but apparently, I was surprised that I didn’t like the taste – I can sorta feel the green juice on my tongue mixed with chocolate, nasty. Anyway, at least it puts me off from getting another one.

I Survived! Day 5:

  • Last day of my Alpha Step.  It’s so sunny outside so I wore my trainers and went for a quick walk around the neighborhood. But before that, I had 3 boiled egg whites for breakfast. I weighed 54.8kgs (1.3 kilos / 2.9 lbs lost) and dropped another 1cm off my waistline. I feel that my energy’s back to normal, actually I can run but I just thought maybe I’ll give it few more days.
  • After the walk, I grabbed a freshly made juice from a local juicing cafe. It’s called Sun Kissed made of mango, orange, pineapple and passion fruit  It was so refreshing!
  • I was a bit stressed for missing out my normal morning toilet routine yesterday, glad it went back to normal today (see I told you, it has to be documented!)
  • For lunch, I juiced 3 apples and 2 carrots.
  • After hours and hours of writing reports, etc for work, my husband and I went to the gym at 6:30pm. I had a banana before (that’s not part of the programme, I just had one). My friend, was also there and we did 30-min cross training session, 30-min cycling session and spent 4-mins rowing.
  • For dinner, FINALLY!!!! Tadaaaaaa…….

Fish

  • Okay, it may not look that exciting for you but I was so looking forward to eating dinner with my husband. Since Monday, I was just having juice while he was eating the food I cooked. He had rice with this fish but I just had the fish meat (I seasoned this fish with tomatoes, shallots, spring onions, lemon, ginger, pinch of salt and pepper and little olive oil popped in the oven for 15 mins covered with foil then another 15 mins without – just in case you want to find out the recipe).
  • Very Happy!

My conclusion on the Alpha Step detox

That’s my Alpha Step experience, the first detox program that I’ve tried. I lost 3 kilos (6.61 lbs) and about 4cm off my waistline. I originally wanted to become skinnier, basically get my pre-married shape back but really beyond that, I did this because I want to be healthier (shredding off those unwanted ‘muffin tops’ is a BIG bonus, wink*… plus the glowing skin). Of course I won’t binge on food after fasting for 5 days. Slowly, I’ll go back to eating clean foods and will avoid junk food as much as possible.

If you are looking for a detox programme without losing the important nutrients needed by our body, I think this one is for you. Don’t worry about not having carbs, it’s just 5 days anyway! Just make sure you consult your doctor first especially if you are undergoing medication.

I suggest that before you do this, get a juicer and insert this juicing habit in your daily life. Try replacing one meal, preferably at night, with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice like what I’d been doing before this detox program (and will be doing after). Then see if you think you are ready for the Alpha Step. Otherwise, juice anyway. And keep juicing, baby!

Here are quick tips about juicing:

  • Have the right mindset. Be beautiful inside and out.
  • It ‘s really important that you connect with the people who are also into this. It’s helpful to follow blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram posts. I’ve downloaded ‘The Everything Juicing Book’ by Carole Jacobs and ‘The Funk Fresh Juice ebook’ by Jason Vale in my iBooks.
  • Get a good juicer. Currently, I am using an Electrolux centrifugal juicer since I didn’t really know what to get at first. Now, I’m saving up for a Hurom slow juicer (it’s about £360!). Also consider if it is easy-to-clean as you must clean your juicer every after use.
  • Make sure you wash your fruits and veggies properly, you’ll never know! Also it’s better to use a plastic chopping board instead of a wooden one. Do not chop meats using this chopping board – get a separate one for that.
  • Do not store produce in the fridge for long. They only last for few days. I know it will take you several trips to the grocery weekly but believe me, it’s all worth it. Plus you get to burn those extra fats by walking to the supermarket!
  • Be prepared for frequent toilet visit.
  • Even busy people can make this a healthy habit.
  • Juice greens! Juice those superfoods that you can’t eat – at least you can cover your nose when you drink!
  • Juice less fruits at night – they’re good during the day or before the work-out. How about a refreshing apple-carrot juice after a 5km run?
  • Drink your juice immediately, you don’t to lose those nutrients!
  • Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning – it alkalizes your body.
  • If you feel you haven’t juiced enough, try Juice Plus Chewables (I used to eat Haribo gummies whilst working, now I replaced it with these all-natural fruit and veggie chewies)
  • Get a juicing journal or save your juicing mixes in your iPhone notes. I like taking pictures too.
  • Try, experiment, enjoy!
  • Just think of your health, really. That’s about it. Benefits will follow 🙂

Happy Juicing and cheers to a healthier us!

The perfect sunny mini-break Majestic Gorges de Verdon #travel #holiday #france #placestovisit

Thinking of that perfect mini break away? Well, our travel writer Katrina Santos Baron shares her tips for a fantastic trip to the sunny and picturesque Majestic Gorges de Verdon.

You can find out more about Katrina and read oodles of her fantastic writing on her own blog Katscapades.

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Gorges de Verdon is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful. It is located in the midst of the region of the French Riviera and Provence, about 2 hours drive from Nice or from Marseille. I’ve just ticked another item in my bucket list as we spent our whole Saturday at this majestic place. Five of us left Nice early in the morning, packed our food and mats for picnic and had our wishful thinking that the water’s gonna be warm enough to swim as it is not yet summer. We were lucky with the spring weather, sunny at 20ish degrees but the water was still ice cold.

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Crossed on foot by hikers all over the world, the Verdon has become a natural site protected since 19901. Although it’s much smaller than Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the Gorges du Verdon is deep, compact, wild and beautiful. From Castellane to the village of Rougons, the Verdon river flows clear and swift, and the road follows along the banks. At Rougons, by the Point Sublime, the river plunges into the narrow rock walls, and there’s no escape until it comes out the western end before flowing into Lac de Ste Croix2.

The place offers various activities for all ages to enjoy whether you’re with family, friends and/or partner. You may explore the area by hiking or cycling, look at the specular view from above through paragliding, climb the world-famous rocks, or camp amongst one of its sites. Water sports lovers can go canoeing, rafting, stand up water surfing, water bike paddle boating (like what we did) and others. Of course, swimming is a must if the water’s warm enough. We’d love to go back in few weeks’ time and try paragliding!

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If you would simply like to relax and enjoy nature’s picturesque view whilst having a picnic, Lac de Ste Croix is a perfect spot.

I’ve also put together some outdoor skincare tips plus quick-fix hairstyling for women:

I used Avène’s sunblock (from the goodiebag I got during my last visit at the Hydrocentre) and I must say it is the best sunblock cream I’ve ever tried. It Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 13.25.00is non-greasy and has a pleasant smell unlike other creams I used in the past. I love the composition, spreads easily without leaving white marks on my skin and it is very light considering its high SPF protection and water resistance. Of course my skin got oiler in the afternoon as I had a good-paddle-workout through the river so I sprayed Avène Thermal Spring Water and wiped my face with a clean tissue. I’m not a fan of make-up when actively doing outdoor stuff. For quick-fix outdoor hairstyling, I just braided my hair in the morning (it works better if you sleep with your braid overnight), loosened it in the afternoon and tied it back with a simple ponytail as it got warmer. Viola, no need for electric curlers! 🙂

For more information on how to visit the Gorges de Verdon, see below:

Information

Here are the principal places for information about the Verdon Canyon. The Office de Tourisme or Mairie in other villages of the region also have information on the Gorges de Verdon.

Aiguines (83630)
Tel: 0494 70 21 64; Fax: 0494 70 20 41
Email: verdon.accueil@wanadoo.fr
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon
Tel: 0492 74 63 95; Fax: 0492 74 63 94
Castellane
Tel: 0492 83 61 14; Fax: 0492 83 76 89
Email: office@castellane.org
Web: http://www.castellane.org


Transportation Verdon Gorges

Bus

Marseille – Gréoux – Riez – Castellane Bus FH-27

LER line 27 (part A): 3 buses/day, between Marseille and Riez, trip time 2 hrs. Stops: Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Venelles, Meyrargues, Peyrolles, Pont Mirabeau, St Paul-lez-Durance, Vinon, Gréoux-les-Bains, St Martin-de-Bromes, Allemagne-en-Provence, Riez.

LER line 27 (part B): 1 bus a day between Riez and Castellane (via the Gorges-de-Verdon), trip time 1h30. Stops: Riez, Roumoules, Moustiers-Ste-Marie, Lapalud, Rougon, Pont de Soleil, Castellane.

• On the LER website (http://www.info-ler.fr/fr/lignes-horaires/carte-et-fiches-horaires-n287. , select Ligne 27: Marseille / Greoux / Castellane to display the bus schedule PDF.