Review of Ballet Body: Upper Body Ultra Sleek DVD

by fitforthesoul in , , ,


Finally, the time has come to do my first review on Leah Sarago’s Ballet Body DVDs.  Yayyyy!  I wish you guys could see me right now as I flutter with excitement to spill the truth on these workouts!  I mostly have positive things to say about Leah’s routines, but I’m trying to pick out any possible negative aspects that could be used as a word of precaution for those of you who might be beginning exercisers, or if you have weakened bones and muscles due to past injuries.  But let’s face it, it is wise to be aware your own fitness level as well as where you stand with your health in the first place, so it goes without saying that Ballet Body should be used with caution as with any other fitness DVD out in the market.  Smile

Here is my breakdown on the Upper Body DVD:

  • All you need is a yoga mat and a pair of 2-5 lb. dumbbells.
  • It is mainly comprised of ballet style exercises, the graceful and gentle moves of pilates, and the concentration and relaxation of a yoga sequence.  Let me clarify that the ballet component is not real ballet per se--but more of a ballet conditioning routine.
  • The instruction is perfectly on cue and quite precise.  It is done in a voice-over fashion rather than the instructor shouting the next cue in your face.  She’s pretty serious, but I like that style because it allows me to focus my mind on what I’m doing rather than on the instructor.
  • Leah provides modifications for certain exercises.
  • It lasts for a total of 45 minutes.  25 minutes are spent doing floor work such as variations of planks, twists, holds, etc.  16 minutes are spent doing standing positions with different dumbbell exercises, which include a deadly amount of pulses and lifts.  The last 4 minutes are for stretching and they perfectly target the muscles that have been fatigued.  Leah goes deep into the stretches instead of doing them haphazardly, which is something that I’ve noticed many fitness instructors tend to do.
  • Leah starts up with a sequence of plank variations and does NOT play around!  Within the first minute or so you will probably be sweating due to your still-cold muscles.  It’s a tough 1 minute but don’t give up and just keep going!
  • She moves on to side plank movements that require you to balance yourself, which provides a good workout for the whole body, including the abdominal muscles, glutes, and legs.  She also includes circular movements that are miniscule, yet they effectively fatigue every muscle that is being targeted.
  • The standing sequence requires light dumbbells and Leah challenges you to defy your own limits!  There are endless amounts of small lifts and pulses, which allow the thinnest and most unknown muscle fibers to be worked out.  Thus, resulting in a more “firm” and “elongated” look.
  • You will sweat regardless of your fitness level because these moves are as unconventional, yet as effective as they can get.
  • The more you practice the more fun it gets!

Things you should be aware of:

  • If you have weak wrists you may experience some discomfort, but Leah says that this issue will slowly fade away if you keep at it.  After all, the wrist is composed of muscles too, so the more you work them the stronger they will get.  If you have something like Tendonitis however, I would strongly suggest that you talk to your doctor first.
  • Weak shoulder and back muscles might become more tender at first, so make sure to use the right weight for your level of fitness.  I use a 3 lb. dumbbell in each hand.
  • Proper form is VERY important to prevent injury since the same muscles are worked to fatigue, so make sure to listen to Leah’s directions.
  • You might have to stop several times throughout the routine, but that’s okay! Don’t let that stop you because every time you practice this DVD you will get better—one little pulse at a time. Suddenly one position that was seemingly impossible is quite possible.



I’ve tried the Upper Body DVD two times so far and as you can tell I am pretty stoked about it.  The picture above should tell you just how TOUGH this workout is!  Pretty much every time I exercise I end up looking sexy like this—drenched in sweat and with cheeks as rosy as a Cabbage Patch Doll.  Let me first tell you in all possible humility that I consider myself an advanced exerciser, and it’s all because I am serious when I work out.  Also, years of adopting this habit has allowed me to increase my cardiovascular health as well as muscle strength.  Even so, this is how I felt after giving this DVD a try for the first time.

I am not certain if it’s all in my head but the last time I saw myself in the mirror I noticed that my arms seemed a bit less muscular.  Rather, they looked more firm and toned in the right places.  Does that make sense at all?  I hope so.  Maybe this means that my arms will eventually look longer for this 5’1” gal? Winking smile  Haha, oh the blessings of being short and petite.

Well, I hope my thoughts on Leah Sarago’s work has helped you a bit!  Let me know if you have any questions and I will make sure to do my best and answer them.

My hope is that I will stick to these routines and give you more updates in the near future.  Next up is my first review for the Lower Body DVD.  Have a blessed weekend y’all!

Do you see changes in your physique and in your health after doing Pilates and yoga routines?

What did you think of this breakdown?  Do you need more details on it?


Ellie <33

Rundown of Eats, Plus Run Your Heart Out

by fitforthesoul in , , , , , , ,

It seems as if this week has passed within the blink of an eye, especially since I had to catch up on so many things after coming back from Kansas.  Thankfully there’s always food that’s worth posting about and workouts to share with you.  Yeah, I always have something up my sleeeeve. Smile 1)  On the same day of our date night we had some business to take care of in the Rowland Heights area, so we decided to stick around the city of La Puente which is next door to RH.  I mean, how could we not after the enticing Yelp reviews of Crazy Rock’n Sushi?  This place is pretty legitimate when it comes to the freshness of the raw fish.  Their dishes are extremely affordable and the staff couldn’t be any more attentive to the customers.  Another big plus is that their spicy dishes actually have the perfect amount of kick in them!


We ordered their jalapeno poppers as the appetizers because we’re well aware that one roll usually doesn’t satisfy our hunger.


Greg ordered a spicy tuna type of roll.


Although I’m not normally a California Roll fan since I much prefer real fish inside and out, I just had to order this salmon and avocado sushi because salmon is one of my all-time favorite fish.  Their presentation is pretty good if you ask me, and that’s always a fun bonus to any food.  Pretty food=more fun. Open-mouthed smile  On the other side of the plate there were lemon slices and with those squeezed on top of the rolls, my dish tasted heavenly.

2)  Look at us, look at us, we’re making fools of ourselves!  Thankfully no cars came our way or that would have been embarrassing.   I truly commended Greg for allowing his picture to be taken, and he’s smiling too!  Hehehe.


3)  Did you know that the combo of marinated chickpea salad from Trader Joe’s with greens, hummus, avocado, and feta cheese tastes fantastic?  Neither did I, until yesterday.


4)  I made some seafood enchiladas last night and I was more than surprised by how well they turned out.  I paired them up with my Best-Ever-Guacamole.  Don’t you love it when recipe success happens?  I’ll be sharing this enchilada recipe soon, so that you guys can join me in seafood overload as I’ve eaten fish every single day this week.  I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a good thing or not.


5)  I’m putting myself in real danger by showing you this picture, but I just couldn’t resist!  Awww this picture of our “big boned” cat Orion and his daddy makes me melt.  Oh by the way, the aforementioned enchiladas may be on the healthier side, but they must have been tasty and comforting enough to put Greg to sleep.


6)  Okay everyone.  Don’t blame me if you become addicted to buckwheat pancakes drizzled with blueberry coconut cream up on top.  This breakfast was a huge hit (in my mind) this morning, and I roughly followed this pancake recipe from decades ago, but instead of flax seeds I just added a whole egg.  For the blueberry coconut cream I just mixed Trader Joe’s highly addictive canned coconut cream with some natural blueberry preserves.  It was almost like eating a super gourmet sauce melting on hot pancakes!


7)  Yesterday’s workout was beyond amazing, and uhhhh my lungs were crying at one point.  I just love that adrenaline rush of exercising even if I’m at the brink of pulling a Hulk on everyone around me.  You know, when you start to feel like jumping all around the gym and growling from the soreness while throwing fitness balls everywhere?  I don’t know.  I’m just strange like that and I’m fortunate you even come back to say ‘hi’ to me. Smile

Run Your Heart Out Intervals

Before starting any kind of exercise, it is essential to warm up the muscles by a brisk walk, the elliptical, or some light jumping around.  It’s always wise to follow your own level of fitness and work your way up.  That way, you can succeed and not get discouraged!  I’m a firm believer that a friendly competition with myself can be healthy if I want to become stronger and build more endurance.

  • Walk on the treadmill at speed 3.5+ incline 10.0 (Approximately 3-4 minutes)
  • Jog at speed 6.0+ incline 4.0 (7 minutes)
  • Sprint at speed 9.0+ incline 3.5 (1 minute)
  • Jog at speed 6.5+ incline 4.0 (7 minutes)
  • Sprint at speed 9.0+ incline 3.5 (1 minute)

I repeated this type of increment until I got to speed 7.5, and then worked my way back down until I completed the duration of 30 minutes.

8)  Word.  I love how true this is, and it seems like the older I get, the more I find myself learning this truth every single day.



I hope you have a blessed day!  Carpe diem.

Are you a believer of interval training and the benefits that it boasts about?

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately?

Share something fun and smile-worthy about your week!  It can be anything from an event to an attitude.


Ellie <33

Fitness Vlog and Hazelnut Cappuccino Bread

by fitforthesoul in , , , , , , ,

Anyone who has known me long enough would know that despite my pursuit of healthy eating and fitness in general, I have one little weakness that haunts me silly and I sometimes give in to the temptation.  Okay, maybe more like five weaknesses:  peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, oatmeal, caffeine, and the biggest culprit of them all—baked goods. Smile Now, remember when I talked about balance and moderation?  Not everything we do needs to be 100% perfect or we will end up burnt out!  So, in order to prevent that dreaded burn-out in my life, I try my best to pursue moderation in my eating habits, exercising (sometimes), and relationships.

Lately I’ve been enjoying some pastries and ice cream (hello Trader Joe’s ice cream!) to satisfy my sweet tooth, but to be honest, all of that costs a lot of moolah and much of it doesn’t provide my body with nutrition.  So in lieu of giving in to my cupcake cravings yesterday, I went ahead and concocted a surprisingly delicious and healthy bread last night.  Hey, you can have your [healthy] bread and eat it too.


The best part about the bread is that it’s gluten free and vegan!  If preferred though, one egg may be added.

Hazelnut Cappuccino Bread {Gluten Free + Vegan}

This bread recipe contains no dairy ingredients, but dairy and eggs may certainly be added if preferred.  It is extremely soft in texture and super filling due to the hazelnut flour!  Not only is there a good amount of protein, but there’s also a lot of fiber from the inclusion of oat flour.  The result is a perfectly not-too-sweet bread that’s great for breakfast.  However, for those with a huge sweet tooth, more sugar or honey may be added. The espresso powder used in the recipe is from Williams Sonoma


  • 1 C sour almond milk (1 TBSP lemon juice+almond milk= 1C.  Let it curdle for at least 10 min.)
  • 3/4 C oat flour (I ground up GF oats in the Magic Bullet)
  • 3/4 C white rice flour
  • 3/4 C hazelnut flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 3 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 TBSP espresso powder
  • 1/2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/3 C safflower oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. First prepare a loaf pan by putting a cookie sheet baking liner inside the pan.  Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Grab a large mixing bowl and stir together all of the flours, cornstarch, espresso, cocoa, baking soda+powder, and sugar.
  3. Add the honey, oil, vanilla, and sour milk last because the acidity will cause the baking soda to react much faster.   Whisk together briefly until well incorporated and pour the mixture in the loaf pan.
  4. Lay a cookie sheet inside the oven and put the loaf pan on top of it so that it won’t overflow, which it probably won’t anyway.  But I’ve learned in a cupcake class that for cupcakes to bake evenly and for a lesser chance of burning, it is good to put a cookie sheet underneath.  I believe this will help in the bread baking process as well.
  5. Bake for approximately 60-62 minutes or until inserted stick (I used a wooden skewer) comes out clean.  Let it cool on a rack and serve with butter, Earth Balance, or other toppings!








This is why you don’t want to bake this late at night.  I almost dug my hand into this thing because I really wanted to taste it!  But I actually told myself, “Tomorrow morning, just wait a little while longer” because I didn’t want to stay up from the caffeine! Open-mouthed smile


A little bit of butter or Earth Balance smeared on top, paired with a cold glass of milk goes a long way and tastes pretty fantabulous.


Strong and Lean Workout Vlog

I’ve been meaning to share a workout routine for a long time but hadn’t gotten around to it!  This particular routine has been on my go-to list of workouts as of late, simply because it’s great for strength, cardio, and it can be done at home in less than 25 minutes-ish.  I forgot to charge my batteries and got cut off right before the last exercise! Hoho, I always do that for some reason. So there are 2 separate videos for this one.

Strong and Lean Workout

1)  Plie Squat Jumps-  10 reps

2)  Low Towel Hold Squats-  10 reps

3)  Burpee Jumps-  12 reps

4)  Walking Plank Push-Ups with Cardboard-  10 reps total

5)  High Knee Runs-  20 reps (2 jumps= 1 rep)

6)  Tricep Dip Pulses-  12 reps

Repeat the circuit about 4-5 times, or as needed.

I hope you guys are having a great day!

Are there workout routines that you love and do often?

What recipes or dishes would you like to see gluten-free?


Ellie <33

Spice up Your Glutes and Your Love Life

by fitforthesoul in , , , , , ,

Happy Wednesday everyone! Okay, so first I’m going to ask you…are you ready? “Ready for what?”

For another WIAW party of course.  Ok don’t leave yet!  Because this post has a chock-full of random stuff that’s been going on as of late and I hope you read along with me. :)

Yesterday was our 4 month wedding anniversary, and to say that those four months have zipped by in the blink of an eye is a total understatement.  I don’t know about the rest of you who are married or are in a relationship, but I feel like Greg and I have been married forever, yet it still seems as if we’re learning about each other and this beautiful journey called holy matrimony.

I wrote Greg a poem to celebrate this blessed day despite my lack of writing skills.  It is safe to say that he was profoundly touched by it and despite my lack of confidence in the writing department, I was delightfully surprised by how it came out.  If you do decide to read the poem, then I welcome you to be blessed by God’s amazing love.  Get some fire in ya!

Fear Not the Winter Days

As seasons change I fear the ruthlessness of time

It ticks on by, bidding me to forget just how much I’ve been blessed

Granted, having a lover like you is worth my every dime

For every night I lie down knowing that by your sweet hands I will be caressed.

Though trials and pain may come to us like a torrent

Forcing us to forget the blessings showered upon our lives

I am certain that Christ will flood in as a peaceful current

As we trust Him wholeheartedly because His love in us thrives.

Fear not when the piercing winter comes, my love

For everything must die before the spring flowers bloom

You will always be my lover sent from God above

And I pray that when trials and pain start to loom

You and I will remember that Christ is our joy and desire

With Him as the center we can never go wrong

And I would rather walk this narrow path with you through the mire

Because I love you more than anything, more than any ethereal song.

So trust in the Lord with all your heart

And believe that we are in the best of hands

Let us love each other just as we did from the very start

And behold each other’s beauty in the midst of life’s demands.

Your Lover and Friend,

Ellie Bear

Have you made it this far guys?  If you have, thank you for reading my love poem to my dearest husband!



In order to celebrate our day, we headed over to Anaheim in Orange County and had some amazing, get-your [cheap] money’s-worth of good Indian food.  We dined around 6:30 pm at Punjabi Tandoor, where the atmosphere is completely different from that of any other Indian eatery I’ve ever been to.  Punjabi Tandoor is more of a “fancy” fast-food type of place, where the customer orders at the register and gets to sit down at their nice wooden tables.


Decor wise, it’s rather simple but ultra neat and clean.  From the outside the restaurant looks rather small, but the inside is spacious and bright.


We started our meal off with a Samosa that came with a sweet red sauce and a really spicy green sauce.  The interesting and awesome thing about Indian cuisine is that its spices don’t just kick in from the very start—it’s more of a subtle sensation that starts to burn the tongue and then the stomach.  It’s so delicious!  But yeah, not very good for my stomach. :P


My entree consisted of Naan and a vegetable Korma, and both of them were so tasty that I had a hard time stopping myself from eating the whole dish.  The  cups are actually pretty small, but the sauce was so buttery and creamy that I don’t think I could have finished the whole thing by myself.


Greg got the chicken curry and the Chicken Tikka Masala.  Oh my goodness, was the Tikka Masala really good!  Full of tomatoey goodness and bold flavors.

After our meal, we headed to Downtown Disney to watch The Dark Knight Rises. 

As we waited for the movie to start, we walked around a bit to goof off as we normally do best.




I have only a few words for you regarding Dark Knight Rises.  It was so good!!! All the way from the effects to the plot of the story, it was an A+ film in my honest opinion—although, I have to say that one itty bitty part about the woman’s scar wasn’t explained as clearly as it should have been.  I got so absorbed into the movie that I was at the edge of my seat half of the time because of the creepy characters, twists at the end, and dark feel to it all.



Overnight Oats are the best in the summer!  Who am I kidding?  It’s good all year around.  This bowl contained lots of greek yogurt in the mix, and I sprinkled it with berries, Whole Foods’ ginger granola, and a drizzle of the best coconut oil.

I’ve been loving Talenti’s Gelato lately, and the creamy and fluffy texture is to die for.


Most stores that I go to have been selling these at sales price, so I highly recommend that you go and get some, especially the mint flavored one.


Last but certainly not least…Proventive sells a tasty vegan protein powder that is free of soy and gluten.  It is full of amino acids and I can tell that it’s very wholesome just by looking at its nutrition stats.  If you know me well enough by now, you would know that I enjoy a good stack of protein pancakes throughout the week, and this powder is a great choice for that.  I think I finally found the right one for me at a reasonable price! :D

Fire up Your Legs and Glutes

This routine is great for elongating the muscles while sculpting them at the same time.  It’s important to reap the full benefits of the movements, so make sure to perform them slowly and put your back into it! :P


  1. Jumping Star Jacks- 30 reps
  2. Incline Plank with Leg Movements- 30 reps
  3. Kneeling Knight Leg Lift- 30 reps
  4. Inner Thigh Lifts- 30 reps
  5. Frog Legged Abs- 30 reps
  6. Ballet Plie Squats- 30 reps

What do you think about the whole female and male geared workout debate?

Do you think women are able to bulk up without trying too hard?

-I honestly think that some women have higher testosterone levels than others, so it is definitely possible to get very muscular without trying.  For some it is easier to build muscle than others, so it really depends on the individual!

Are you a poem lover and writer?

-I’m not a writer type of gal, but when I do I actually enjoy it!  And if it’s a letter or a poem for someone else, then I really get into it.


Ellie <33

Plie like a Ballerina and Run like the Wind

by fitforthesoul in , , ,

Hi there!  Wowww…I feel like I haven’t posted in such a long time!  Even though I only post about 3-4 times a week, posting after 6 days feels like forever. Without further ado, I want to thank you all for the awesome feedback in regards to my headers!  Yeah…  I’ve been having so much fun using my creative juices that I just couldn’t help myself from ending up with like, a gazillion different styles.  And changing the headers like, the same amount of times.  In the end, I decided to go with a nice clean look. :)  I can be so indecisive sometimes that I absolutely drive myself nuts!  Are you guys the same way?

Here’s to hoping that indecision has one of those quirks when people say, “did you know that if you are (insert adj.) then that means you are (insert adj.)?”

Lately, both Greg and I have been little busy bees with our church’s VBS coming up!  Not only do we have a lot of decorations to help out with, but we’re also the characters in this year’s skit.  Somehow, I ended up with the lead character named Kamalei, and she’s a super perky and quirky gal that probably suits my character a little too well.  I still have lots of lines to memorize and to say that I’m just a bit nervous would be an understatement!

In order to deal with the upcoming 5 days of VBS, I went ahead and squeezed in some great workouts yesterday because I just don’t know if I’ll have any free time at all this week.  Most likely, I will do some of Leah’s shorts routines or a short body weight circuit in the evening.  That is…if I have any energy left in me.

I am constantly reminded that in the midst of hectic schedules, I (and we) should be mindful of keeping up with at least some of my daily routines like staying active and eating healthy snacks and meals.  Or at least as much as time allows.  Remember, preparation helps with success!


This morning’s breakfast was very exciting.  So exciting that I was waiting for a few good days for Greg’s peanut butter jar to come to an end!


I tell you, sometimes you just have to go back to a simple jar of hot oats to start your day off right.  Oh, and a great devotional read.

This oat jar was filled with bananas, cinnamon, and apples!  It was sprinkled with sunflower seeds, a block of dark sea salt chocolate, and carrot muffin pieces from Mimi’s Cafe.  Mimi sure makes the meanest carrot muffins to have walked upon the face of the earth my taste buds.

Then lunch rolled around a few hours later and I was hungry for Sabra’s garlic hummus, toast, greens, and a side of lemon chicken soup.


I will be sharing the recipe soon so stay tuned for that!


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I had an awesome workout session yesterday.  It consisted of 25 minutes of running intervals and a short circuit that left my muscles burning, and it goes something like this:

I colored the intervals so that it would be easier to see the break-down because there’s nothing as overwhelming as a hard-to-read chart.  After the last interval recorded in the chart, I went back down in incline level and speed until I completed a total of 25 minutes.   As you can see, the sprints are long enough to leave me gasping for breath, but short enough so that my legs won’t give in during the sprint.

I think that one of the most essential components of intervals is the brief time of going all out and then resting or walking for an even shorter period of time. At the end of this interval I wanted to cry and call for my mommy.

After running, I headed over to the private room and performed a circuit of 4 exercises:

1)  Burpees with pushups- 12 reps

2)  Toe Plie Squats- 12 reps

3)  Renegade Rows- 12 reps alternating sides (10 lbs. each hand)

4)  Mountain climbers-  20 reps (2 jumps=1 rep)

I then proceeded to complete 3 plank holds for 1 min. and 30 sec. each time.  Well, the last time I collapsed to the ground right at minute 1.  :P

I hope you guys are having a great week and talk to you soon!


Do you prefer long distance running or intervals?

-I like to do both, and it all depends on what I’m “feeling” that day.

Are you an indecisive person?  If so, when are you like that the most?


Ellie <33

Back on Track Workout Routine

by fitforthesoul in , , , ,

Hello lovelies!  I hope you had a fabulous Fourth of July.  I sure did; it was spent with my family as we had invited them over to our house.  Finally, much of the house is done up with furniture, decorations, framed photos, and clean rooms.  :D  Check! We had so much great food and it was mostly homemade.  I am glad to report that my Orange-Ginger Pasta Salad was a huge hit!  So much so that my brother in law wanted to take the leftovers home to eat at work.  :P  Now if that doesn't make an amateur "chef" smile, then I don't know what will.

Oftentimes, the holidays bring delicious food along with their evil cousins called "Extra Calories".  Now, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with consuming extra calories every now and then, especially when it's in the setting of special events and family gatherings.  However, we all know that too much "celebrating" can make us feel bloated, sluggish, and unmotivated to be active because of the aforementioned symptoms.

Okay, so...I thought that it would be fun to record a workout video for anyone out there who's looking for a fun, efficient, and fast-paced routine! (Or if you just want to have a laugh by watching me :() Oh man oh man I feel kind of exposed and dorky!  Especially because of my constant fidgeting and messing my words up.  Hehe...But, I don't care!  I had fun doing this and I hope it's helpful to you guys (if you decide to try it out).

Several people have asked me to actually show the moves to my exercises, and more times than I can remember I have been asked for advice regarding back exercises.

Fortunately, this fast-paced and easily altered routine targets almost every single muscle you can imagine.  I went through it yesterday and I woke up incredibly sore.  I'm still in pain.

*Help* :P



My handy dandy Gymboss Timer!

Darn, I apologize for the fuzzy quality of the video, and I do wish the camera was more eye-level!  I must admit, it was tough to get the right angle on my own.  Please stay and don't run away! ;)

How was your 4th?

Do you need visuals/videos in order to follow exercises?


Ellie <33