Day Trip: Gone-Away Lake Walk

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Sometimes you do not need to travel very far to come a long way away from home…

This weekend I went for a walk in three different areas of the neighbourhood; in the woods, at the beach and, especially interesting, a new walk by a hidden, spooky lake …
Suddenly, I not only had some walk variation (for the benefit of the dog, too), but my mind wandered years back to my childhood.

I was an avid reader and loved the books by Elizabeth Enright; ‘Gone-Away Lake’ and ‘Return to Gone-Away’, about a forgotten lake and old, abandoned houses …
the stories came back to life at this weekend’s walks.

Walking, weather and wonders of nature made me feel, as if I was in the middle of a (fairy) tale, A Danish Late Winter’s Tale …

Photos by my husband, Henrik:

By the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupTrees by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik ElstrupMoss on tree by the lake Langesø Djursland Denmark Photo Henrik Elstrup 

By Følle Strand Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupBy Kalø Slot Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Djursland Photo Henrik ElstrupEbeltoft Ved fregatten Djursland Photo Henrik Elstrup

Take a walk … it truly is mind-body travelling … and healthy, too.

Travel Dream. Dream Travel? In Your Dreams?

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

If you can dream it, you can do it, says my husband, and no point in aiming too low either, he adds! As it is, he has overcome many seemingly impossible tasks just by believing it could be done, so he should know, what he is talking about.
So be it: To me travels great and small embody fitness and wellness and if they can be plentified just by dreaming, then here it goes.

Having travelled to 50 countries and states for business and pleasure, but many, many times to the same countries, as “too much of a good thing can be good” (Mae West), I have to move on and see some more (new) world and wellness.

So, on my new upgraded travel bucket list there are now places, which I have not seriously considered before, as they are kind of far away in more ways than one.

If I could just pick and choose? What would you pick? Think about it for a moment, it is quite hard: Where to, if you could go, wherever you wanted?

There are so many exciting places, it is almost impossible to choose. But in my fitness and business practice, I have found, that the moment you verbalize your visions and write them down, they are a whole lot closer to being realized … so with a friendly push from my hubby; here I go, practising what I preach, only now in the leisure time department!

From a handful, Top 5, of destinations-I-would-really-really-like-visit, a town on the other side of the globe, a town voted one of the ‘Best Places to Travel in 2014′ by Travel + Leisure, comes to mind:

Cape Town (Kaapstad in Afrikaans) 

St. James Beach. Damien du Toit.

Where to stay? 

If money was not an issue, I would probably stay at:

Cape Grace Hotel, because it has a fitness centre, free wi-fi, is excellently located at the waterfront and looks very cozy … or maybe the Blackheath Lodge, a minute friendly looking place … or somewhere else? There is a plethora of hotels in Cape Town.

Where to eat?

I will check Gogobot; take a look at the recommendations given by foodie tribe travellers. I might try e.g.:
Codfather Seafood & Sushi, because I like both.
Sevruga, because the restaurant looks interesting and seafood sounds good.
Reuben’s and Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar have had top reviews, too, so if there is ‘time’, I will try to dine and wine there (South Africa has some really nice wines). Apparently the Cape Grace hotel has a good restaurant, Signal, with tasting menus (that is a like from me), so that could be an experience.

If meal money then runs out, I don’t mind surviving on yoghurt and fruit from a foodmart …
when necessary, I don’t mind a mix of luxury and budget travelling.

Morning light over Simon’s Bay.
André van Rooyen.

What to do?

Insider suggestions are welcome, please. In the meantime, without knowing much about Cape Town, I have a notion, this is to be seen?

  • Cape Point: Watch the oceans meet, a natural wonder of the world (thanks to D’Marls Coffman, Gogobot Pro, for reminding me, a sea-lover, of the obvious).
  • Table Mountain ‘hike’ in TableMountainNational Park (try the Table Mountain Cableway).
  • Robben Island, formerly prison of Nelson Mandela, now a World Heritage Site …
    if I can get a ferry ticket (they are apparently sold out days in advance).
  • Cape of Good Hope, former Dutch East India company stronghold, for history.
  • Bo-Kaap house-design-watching, a natural for an art-and-design-buff.

Fog. Damien du Toit.

And of course: Watch whales (prime time July to November), humpbacks, orcas, southern rights and Bryde’s whales, from the shore or a boat; I learned, that South Africa is the fifth fastest growing whale-watching destination in the world. The Whale Route starts along the south of Cape Town (and extends over 1200 miles to Durban).

This I would like to see: Sea Point storm. Mallix.

This is it. I have now made a dream plan.

Only question: Does this dream travel strategy work … and if yes, when will it come true?



Photo credits:

photo credit: <a href=””>coda</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=””>andre.vanrooyen</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=””>coda</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=””>mallix</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

5 Wellness Ways to Weight loss or Weight maintenance

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Today I was interviewed by a journalist, who wanted to know, why it is so difficult to stick to your New Years resolutions (diets)?
There can be several reasons: One reason is, that old habits die hard. Another reason is, that most people aim way too high with I-wanna-lose-weight-and-I-wanna-lose-it-right-now goals!

Again and again it is proven, that the ‘small increment technique” is the way to long-lasting results for weight loss and weight maintenance.
In order for new habits to become old habits, they need to be manageable and ‘edible’; it is wise to start with just one or two small improvements at a time.

Healthy diet with vegetables and healthy oils for weight loss or weight maintenance

Here are five suggestions, that works well, whether you are at home or travelling:

1. Eat more vegetables (moderate amount of fruit). Begin by eating a vegetable in the morning, e.g. a big tomato, and a vegetable at noon and in the afternoon, e.g. red peppers or some sort of sweet cabbage. It is easier to get plenty of greens, when you eat them throughout the day. Note: Many vegetables taste (almost) like candy, such as organic carrots, beetroots or sweet peppers..
Do you find it difficult to eat enough vegetables each day? Then try ‘supplementing’ with your own vegetable smoothies (add a little fruit and yoghurt); like milkshakes, but healthy!

2. Go for whole grain products, e.g. when buying bread, rice and pasta; it tastes better, it is more filling and it is a sneaky replacement for all the unhealthy ‘white’ stuff…

3. Eat 10-12 raw almonds as a snack, if needed.
Chew many times, 35-50 bites (!) each; they last longer and taste like marzipan.
Only eat snacks, if you feel you need to, if you are often hungry between meals (and if you are, then check the quality of your meals).

4. Eat ‘healthy’ (mono and poly unsaturated) oils every day. E.g. make salad dressings with 2-3 spoonfuls of rapeseed oil (or olive oil) and balsamico, e.g. for a salad with cabbage with some pumpkin seeds.
Healthy fat is essential for your brain and bodily functions, so also eat some fat fish such as salmon, trout or mackerel for lunch or dinner several times a week.

5. Drink 2-3 liters of water every day throughout the day. Avoid all drinks containing sugar – they promote fatness – including alcohol (alcohol is not healthy, it is fattening and makes you ill, so enjoy it in moderation for the taste of it).
Tip: It you do drink alcohol, then drink slowly, (‘chew’) taste every mouthful and drink water as well. Enjoy alcohol together with food to slow down uptake.

Say no to deprivation. Say yes to better tasting options (habits).

Saint Valentine’s Day Hug and Kiss: It is Healthy and a Bliss!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Today is the day, when lovers express their love for each other, and a liturgical celebration instated around 495 AC; a day named after the Roman priest Valentine.
Valentine, later Saint Valentine of Rome, continued – in spite of the laws against marriage of Christians – to marry soldaters; this unfortunately lead to his dimise on 14.2.269 (exact year unknown).
Saint Valentines Day is big business for flourists, chocolatiers and Hallmark … but also a day, when you without any expense and with great rewards can cultivate romance and health. Hug around right now.

Whether you are in a romantic mood or not, it is clever to pamper yourself with warmth and touch for physical, mental, emotional and social wellness; touch, stimulation of the skin, can improve recovery, reduce stress and increase overall well-being.


Social Bonding Bonus (apart form health and wellness): Researcher Christian C. Nocera tells, that “touch and greatings involving touch, such as handshakes and kisses on the cheek, can have great impact on our social interactions.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Activity Holiday: Skiing in Stöten in Sälen in Sweden

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photo: Henrik Elstrup (aka husband)

First all that ski fitness, then the reward: A skiing trip, albeit a small one.
Activity holidays are great and activity holidays with skiing are even better.
Stöten, the northernmost part of the popular Swedish skiing area Sälen, boast “best skiing in Sälen”, when it comes to terrain. I had to see.

The truth about skiing holidays in Scandinavia is, that they can be cold, grey and costly – it is only in the brochures, it is sunny all year round (luckily not of importance to me).

Stöten light piste at night seen from restaurant Brasseriet Ski Hotel Stöten

Still there are quite a few advantages making Nordic skiing holidays attractive; lots of beautiful snow (and sun, too), lots of snowing, a beginner-friendly terrain, ski in ski out and light pistes …

Stöten chair lift on its way up

and a special Skandinavian ‘cozyness’, when you come from outside with minus 5-20 degr. Celsius and into a hot sauna or fireplace lounge (or tent with dining)!

Vildmarkskåtan restaurant Swedens largest tent


Stöten in Sälen is a small area with cabins, appartments and a ski hotel and 11 restaurants and diners with rather nice food.
It is situated close to the Sweden-Norway border on the mountain Granfjällsstöten. Closest towns  are Tandådalen, 18 km south-east, and Østby in Norway, 20 km west.

You go to Stöten to ski (in peaceful surroundings), not to go sightseeing or pub crawl … though after skiing from 15-17 at the hotel is recommended; high spirits and motivating music (rock this week).

Ski Hotel Stöten after ski rock music


Stöten is a ski-in ski out skiing center; from the hotel and appartments at Stöten Mitt you can ski directly onto the pistes and to the lifts. Nice.
There are 33 pistes, especially easy ones, and a couple of more challenging ones. Also there are 4 pistes for cross country (20 km).
11 pistes have snowmakers, so there is ‘snow guarantee’.

Stöten in Sälen one happy blogger about to ski

All pistes end close to Stöten Mitt and you can easily find your way around; it is optimal for families with children and skiers at different levels; a nice thing is, that every one can ride together to the top of the mountain, as from here you can ski on either green, blue, red or black pistes (often green pistes are at the base and very short). The area is great for beginners. For advanced skiiers, though, too few challenges and pistes (km).

Restaurant Vaffelstugan


You can go there by bus (ski travel) or drive there by car (I took the Stena Saga ferry from Denmark to Norway and drove from Oslo to Stöten).
There are no train or airplane options (and no busses from the airport).

Stöten snow and skiing


For snow-lowers: Stöten is a beautiful (off-piste friendly) forest area with fairly long green forest trails. Fine for long weekends. For families with children it is very good.

Advantage: Good service, good food (and it is nice to sit in the Brasseriet restaurant and look out at the World Cup backen piste) and lots of facilities for children.
Disadvantage: Too few challenges for advanced skiers. Not connected to other skiing areas. Only two chair lifts, many surface lifts (T-bar and pommel tow) – some beginners like them, though – and lifts move fairly slowly …

Stöten T bar lift and view of Stöten Mitt

Location: Latitude: 61°15’14.97″. Longtitude: 12°52’49.45″.
Summit, top elevation: 858 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Base elevation: 488 m asl (Grandfjällsstöten).
Vertical: 370 meters (highest in Sälen).
Ski lifts: 18. 13 surface lifts; T-bar/pommel tow (plastic plate). 2 chairlifts. 14 km.
Number of cross country pistes: 4 (3, 5, 5, 7 km – 20 km total, 3 km light pistes)
Number of pistes: 33 (11 with snowmakers and 2 light pistes).
Total km of pistes: 35 km (longest piste 2,6 km)

Black: 5
Red: 3
Blue: 4
Green: 21

Ski rental: Yes.
Ski school: Yes.
Childcare: Yes. Very child-friendly area.
Accomodation: Best Wester Stöten Ski Hotel, cabins, appartments, camping.
Restaurants: 11 restaurants (2 bars) – a.o. Vildmarkskåtan (big tent).
After ski: Yes. 15-17 in restaurant; singer or band. Plus kids after ski.
Fitness: No.
Wellness: Yes. Vattufjäll SPA; a small (popular with kids) pool area, sauna and access to beauty treatmens and massage.
WIFI: Yes.
Facilities: Sports shop, ICA grocery, (small) pool area.
Activities: Snowboard land, ski cross, snowmobile (wild), dog sled, bowling a.o.

Stöten snowmobile trip on the mountain

Ahhh, a nice weekend!

You can learn more from:

Wellness and Health at Sea: SPA Ahoy

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photos: Lars Horn, Baghuset.

This blog is about fitness and wellness at home and on the move, it is about everything, which betters the health and performance of me … and you.
It is not only about high-intensity training, buzz word of today, but also all the other actions, remedies and edibles, that make a difference:
Increase your energy and stamina and improve physical and mental recovery, so a.o. you keep illness at bay and avoid being away sick from duties or workouts.

Two things that work are SPA baths (popular since ancient times), which speed up recovery, and holidays, periods away from the everyday to undwind physically and mentally. And those two can be combined …

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa Wellness at sea Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

From time to time for business or pleasure I sail north from Frederikshavn (north of Jutland, Denmark) to various destinations in Norway and Sweden. On the trip of this week – first trip of 2014 – I discover, that on board the ferry, Stena Saga, which carries me to a small weekend skiing trip, there is a spa.

And a 750 sqm. real spa, Pure Nordic Spa, it is. Not what I had expected on board a ferry. A big spa (cruise ship size at least) and not only big, but with both hot (sauna and steamroom) and temperate baths and a cold bath. The latter is a must – even if not all spa’s have one – for hot-cold baths, which boost immune system, skin and energy level.

Hot-cold bath e.g.: 10-15 min. sauna followed by 1-2 min. cold bath. Repeat 2-4  times. This gets the blood flow going. This is healthy, if you are healthy. Sick? Check with your doctor for special precautions.

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa Hot tub Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

Another one of my favourites is on board, too. An outdoor hot tub. Hot water and a bubbly massage is nice in itself. An extra dimension: To lie in the hot water outside in the fresh air, which provides more oxygen for your brain and muscles … and an extra special experience in these months with temperatures below 0 degr. C … even if the walk to the tub with bare feet in the snow was rather cold (photo: Me pleased as a peach surrounded by water and men).

Stena Saga Pure Nordic Spa bath Photo:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

I also got a different and fun spa experience: In the temperate bath, where you can spend quite a long time effortlessly, you could clearly feel the movement of the ship, which made waves in the water. A unique sensation (photo: Me and others grinning; life is good today).

As a spa finale even more relaxation is recommended. After spa baths and treatments, you normally rest for about ½ hour, or longer, in a comfy chair in a room with a moderate temperature).
This ensures a gradual return to normal temperature and is very relaxing. And a view of the sea and sky is really very, very calming.

Stena Saga  Dato: 30.01.14 Foto:  Lars Horn / Baghuset

I can really recommend dipping into the water, when at sea, for a different mini-holiday. Ferry trips (or mini-cruises) are like ‘hotel stays afloat’, and reasonably priced (check for offers). Spa entrance is about half price of that ashore.

This was my first ‘dip’ into a spa on a ferry, but not the last …

3 Excellent Exercises: For Ski Fitness or Slimming and Six-Pack

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On your way out of the door for a skiing holiday and have given up on getting in shape, because you think it is too late … or you are getting annoyed with your January fitness program, because your six-pack is nowhere in sight?
Either way, these three super exercises are for you. Know this: It is never too late and they will work (also for busy travellers).

The three bodyweight exercises are intermediate level – a dose of basic training beforehand is a good idea – and they can be progressed with weights.
Fantastic fitness exercises, that boost performance, fatburning and fun; a 3-in-1 workout:
1) strength and power, 2) stability and 3) mobility (flexibility and agility).

1. Jumps (squat jump)
 on the spot (with or without weight) and travelling in several directions. Take-off from entire foot. Use the arms. Land with soft knees.

2. Multi-lunges. Progress traditional lunges with movements in more directions.
Train with varied amplitude, small and large range of motion. Check, that the space around you is free of obstacles (especially behind you). Keep knees and feet aligned.

3. Planks with movement. Bored with planks? Make a move! Get more out of your workout by adding various movements; e.g. mountainclimber or plank lunge. Stabilize; contract your core, keep the torso and lower back stable. Body in a straight line.

Workout: 1-3 (4) sets of 8-16 repetitions. 1 minute rest-pause between sets.

Enjoy (below for inspiration; skiing holiday snapshots; Sauze d’Oulx/Sestriere, Italy).

Sestriere skiing holiday Marina Aagaard is high photo Henrik Elstrup

Sestriere skiing trip off-piste tracks photo Henrik Elstrup

Winter snow on trees around Sauze d'Oulx and Sestriere Photo Henrik Elstrup

Holiday on Snow Ski lift and mountains Sauze d'Oulx Sestriere Photo Henrik Elstrup

Sestriere skiing tour with light snow photo Henrik Elstrup