Welcome to eZENtially Fit.
My name is Marika and I am an expat from Germany living in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve always considered myself quite healthy up until about 4 years ago. But let me begin a bit further in the past…
When I was living at home, my parents used to cook with fresh ingredients. We rarely ate out and almost never went to fast-food chains. Lucky me, this is how I learned the basics in cooking. At this time, I ate quite a lot of meat, dairy but also plenty of fruits and vegetables (and of course chocolate). I’ve always had a sweet tooth and definitely ate too much of the latter. 🙂
In terms of fitness, I have been a bit inconsistent. I used to dance Latin and Standard dances for about 10 years. Aged 17, I started going to the gym, although I didn’t have a real plan of what I was doing back then. In my early 20s, I did some Taekwondo and was on and off in the gym.
In 2010, I first moved to Ireland as part of my studies (ERASMUS yeah). I soon found myself gaining a few extra pounds due to all the Guinness, Irish Coffees, Jäger Bombs and the unhealthy fast food after a long party night. I wasn’t really happy with my body back then and decided to join a gym again. That didn’t really help that much and I decided that things need to change.
My best friend Maria, with whom I used to live in Ireland back then was (and still is) a great cook. She taught me a lot and made me question the mass-produced, cheap meats that is available in all the discounters.
When I went back to Germany for a year in 2012, I started reading about clean food. I realised that I had to change my eating habits as well as working out regularly. In order to become and stay healthy and lean, it had to be a lifestyle. I would like to mention two blogs that I am still following at this point in time:
The latter actually made me so happy (chocolate = healthy!) and happened to be mostly vegan. I then began researching about plant-based diets and the health benefits that come with it. I was intrigued to give it a try.
In autumn 2013 I moved back to Ireland. A few month later, I started to cut out meat, fish and dairy. I watched a ton of YouTube videos, e.g.. from Freelee the banana girl and her “Raw till 4” diet which basically means to eat fruits and veggies for breakfast and lunch and a cooked starchy meal for dinner. Looking back at this period, I was probably a bit brain-washed as I believed that I had to eat at least 2,500 kcal to become healthy. After only a few months eating that way I gained back about 3 kg wondering whether I did something wrong.
I researched further and went from an almost fruitarian diet to a starch-based diet after reading “The Starch Solution” by John A. McDougall. While I felt relieved to eat more cooked meals (Ireland is cold and I crave 2-3 warm meals a day), I still wasn’t able to get back to my ideal weight.
At this point in time I believe I focused too much on rules, in particular to keep the fat as low as possible. Only after stopping to obsess about my macronutrients (ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat), I started to eat more intuitively and easily lost the few extra pounds.
Not only did I start feeling better in my body again but also felt more energetic, overall happy and relaxed to eat as much as I wanted. The only thing I now focus on is to eat a lot of dark leafy greens as they are super rich in micronutrients.
I mentioned that this healthy lifestyle involves exercising. I spend a lot of time in the gym lifting weights; usually around 4-5 times per week. I do this because I became really passionate about it and kind of addicted to the feeling afterwards (endorphins!!) 🙂
It is also worth mentioning here that I met my now-fiancé Owen in the gym. We regularly train together and he taught me a ton about different exercise styles, the correct form and even put together plans for me.
For a change I also like to join the odd class in my gym: Zumba, boxing, spinning – whatever I’m in the mood at. In addition, I started practicing yoga about a year ago. This really helped me to find my zen as it involves a lot of meditation and mindfulness. 🙂
This blog is for everyone who is looking to become healthier and happier. I will write about my experience with a plant-based lifestyle and maybe some difficulties you may encounter at the beginning. You will find simple, tasty plant-based recipes to nourish your body and soul. I will also give you insights into my gym routine, and some exercising tips.