There are two reasons why today is extra special. One, I am launching my first Wholesome Stef segment called #healthspotalk. The idea is to introduce you to the amazing ladies (and hopefully sometimes gents) behind my favourite blogs and Instagrammer's and to provide you with a good dose of inspiration from around the world.
And two, I’m introducing you to the talent behind one of my favourite Instagram's @livewellewithelle: Ellie Ficken, a psychology graduate and personal trainer from Melbourne Australia. She has a beautiful and inspiring mindset and truly walks the "wellness talk". I for my part can learn the one or the other thing from her, and I hope that you will too. She has been very supportive of my blog plans since day 1 and I am happy that she pushed and encouraged me throughout. As busy as she is, she allowed me to pick her brain for this Q&A session and I couldn't be more excited to have her kick start this segment!
But enough about me. Let me introduce the brilliant Elle…
What was the catalyst that turned you into a healthy foodie?
After quitting my PhD, I made the mental and physical transition to being a happier and healthier version of myself. For me, this means not only eating well but combining that with working out, resting and surrounding myself with the people I love. These things go hand in hand, I can’t really do one without the other. My catalyst, I suppose, was realising that I only have one shot at life and so I decided that I am going to live the most fulfilling life possible, including changing my eating habits along with my workout routine.
What is your philosophy on health?
It is my philosophy that we need to harness the power of choice - as this is something we can exercise is every situation. We can choose to have a piece of fruit over a slice or cake; we can choose to push ourselves each and every-time we train and we can choose to feel we have learnt a lesson, rather than failed at a goal.
I believe that obtaining and then maintaining health and happiness is in our own hands and both of these states of being are interconnected. Without our health, we cannot be truly happy and I want to help people achieve both a physical and emotional state of well-being, so they can get the most out of life - we only have one shot at it. I want each and every person to recognize the power of choice in how it impacts our state of health and well-being, so I am using my knowledge and experience in psychology and nutrition, as well as my role as a personal trainer to spread this message.
Why do you eat the way you eat?
I eat all meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and some dairy. I do not eat sugar, except on the rare occasion – the same goes with grains. Why?
In short: I feel better. I’m happier, I sleep better, I feel energized, I'm not tired after each meal and my energy levels are constant throughout the day (they used to do the standard 3pm “dip” where I felt hungry and irritated). In addition to this, I have also taken the time to educate myself on food, what it does to the body and how the body requires nutrient dense food. This knowledge of what nutrient-poor food, such as take-away, does to the body has turned me off it. Also, the more I eat real, nutrient rich food, the more I want it! So I guess, I eat this way because of both education and the realization of how much better I feel because of it.
Describe your day on a plate.
For breakfast, I enjoy spicy eggs: scrambled eggs, with red onion, garlic, butter and cayenne pepper and of course, a coffee. Morning tea might be a handful of cherries and almonds Lunch is often 3 x prawn rice paper rolls. Later on I will have an afternoon snack consisting of a berry and coconut smoothie. Dinner always varies, last night I had a roast beef salad for example. Sometimes, if I am still a bit hungry, I finish the day with a mug of jasmine tea and some strawberries.
What are the 5 things we will always find in your fridge/pantry?
- Berries of all kinds
What’s the biggest nutrition misconception you are always having to clear up for people?
Many people seem to think by excluding grain from their diet, they are excluding carbohydrates. However, fruits and vegetables are high in carbohydrate, as well as many other vitamins and minerals, without the harmful elements that grains have. A simple swap of vegetables over grain will not only provide much greater nutritional benefit, but subsequently aid in greater fat loss.
Tell us about your workout routine.
I work out 4-5 times per week. I have a day for legs, arms/shoulders and also chest/back. The remaining day or two (depending on how I am feeling and my timetable) is a full body high intensity interval day, where I do not undertake any isolation activities, but have my body move as I feel it is meant to; holistically, as one. My resistance based workouts take about 45min, whereas my HIIT workouts take about 30-40min. Not to mention, I undertake incidental exercise whenever possible, aka taking the stairs instead of elevators or parking a bit further away to squeeze in a little walk.
What does living a wholesome lifestyle mean to you?
I suppose it means a balanced lifestyle. A lifestyle where what you decide to eat is out of self-love, not restriction and your food is also your medicine. Additionally, it means a lifestyle where we are not sedentary, but having our body do what it was designed to do – move, and be active. Most importantly, it means taking pleasure in what I do across all aspects of my life, from my food choices, workout approaches, as well as my attitude to work and social life. Happiness and satisfaction is always what I want to get out of each and every wholesome/balanced lifestyle choice I make.
A recipe from Elle - Salmon with blood orange salad
Salmon with blood orange salad
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 x salmon fillet per person
1 x avocado
1 blood orange
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ yellow capsicum
1 cup mixed lettuce
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp parsley
½ blood orange – juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
Sear the salmon, skin side down on high heat for 6 min, before flipping and cooking for another 6min, or to your liking.
Meanwhile, mix all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
Slice up all salad ingredients and place in a large bowl, pouring salad dressing on top and toss until evenly coated.
Serve the salmon on top of served salad, with a wedge of remaining blood orange.
Thank you Elie for this beautiful interview! You can follow her here.