A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of catching up with the remarkable Elsa Pataky to hear about her new book, Strong.
Known for her passion for exercise and wellbeing (and that completely enviably Byron lifestyle), the Spanish actress and model was being asked consistently about her approach to “good health, energy and an incredibly toned and strong physique.”
Now in Strong, Elsa is revealing her approach to building strength – of body and mind – with simple strategies to overcome mind-traps and manage cravings, as well as her favourite exercise circuits (that can be done at home) and recipes.
Elsa was kind enough to share two extracts from her book about how to live a balanced and healthy life. If it helps to achieve a little bit of Elsa’s magic, we’re listening.
Strong by Elsa Pataky, Published by Plum, RRP $34.99, Photography by Georgia Gold
"My Friend Marta"
I’ve known Marta for many years. She’s a model and actor who has constantly struggled to maintain a healthy weight. Whether or not you make a living from your image, the battle with extra kilos can be emotionally devastating, especially for us women for whom there is more pressure.
I remember one time Marta was particularly stressed and anxious about this. ‘I need to lose seven kilos!’ she said to me.
‘Okay, don’t despair,’ I said, trying to calm her down. ‘We are going to go to the park to train and you can tell me all about it there.’
After jogging slowly for about 10 minutes, Marta had to stop because she could barely talk. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t want to offend her but I knew she would want me to be honest. So I chose my next words carefully.
‘Marta, I think the problem is that you never get in shape. You are always focused on what you weigh, on the latest diets and on how tight your clothes are. Instead of focusing so much on your weight and the scales, why don’t you focus on your fitness instead? Maybe think about taking part in a public running race?’
I explained that this would be a fun and motivating way to focus on her fitness and strength. So she entered a popular road race held in Madrid, with two months to prepare.
Time passed and eventually Marta called me again. This time, she was so happy! She had joined a local running group and she had finished the 10 kilometre race in 45 minutes.
‘I came first in my group of friends,’ she said proudly. ‘And guess what? We liked it so much that we entered another race in two month’s time.’
Marta ended up hooked on running and, curiously, the next time I saw her she didn’t mention her weight once. Instead, our conversations revolved around different ways of training, different circuits, holidays based on races and which running shoes were more comfortable. What’s more, she was also doing yoga three times a week, which is a great activity to do in combination with running.
Marta achieved this freedom through an attitude change. She stopped judging her body by the number on a scale or by how her pants fitted and instead focused on her strength and fitness.
Soba Noodle Salad with Steak and Stir-fried Vegetables
- 90 g soba noodles
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
- oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 x 85 g pieces of lean beef steak,
- such as scotch or eye fillet
- 80 g sugar snap peas
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- 1⁄3 cup (50 g) peanuts
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark agave syrup
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 cup (100 g) soy or mung
- bean sprouts
- 40 g green cabbage, finely sliced
- 6 basil leaves, torn
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the noodles, swirling them around to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water, then drizzle with a little oil so they don’t stick together as they dry.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over high heat. When the pan is smoking, carefully add the steaks and sear for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm plate, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
- Meanwhile, wipe out the pan, add the remaining oil and return to high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, carrot, peanuts, soy sauce, agave syrup and lime juice and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to a large bowl, add the noodles, sprouts, cabbage and basil and gently toss to combine.
- To serve, divide the noodles and veggies between two serving plates and top with the steak.