Food, Fitness and Fun in the City: Back into Shape

Healthy meals and amazing pampering treatments you can get across Shanghai

by Parents and Kids | Thu, June 01, 2017

By Connor Bell

I’ve been living in Shanghai now for almost six years. I’ve had my ups, downs and in-betweens in this city but ultimately, this is where I call home now – especially after going through my first pregnancy and giving birth here. Since having our bouncing baby boy, Cohen, I have found it incredibly difficult to juggle being the owner of a number of ventures, a teacher, a wife, a friend and a present and loving mother.

I am juggling it all and, unfortunately, my body has suffered. After watching my friend lose her baby weight in a matter of weeks and reading the wonderfully fabricated lies that breastfeeding would burn all the calories you need to lose the pounds I had packed on, I was naïve to think that I’d be back at my pre-baby weight in no time.

Now, almost six months after birth, I’m realizing that I need to do a lot more to get myself back in shape. With this column I am committing to you, our readers, to scour the city for the best workouts and fitness classes for us moms with little time and waning drive. I will provide you with some epic healthy meals to try and also recommend some amazing treatments to pamper yourselves at different locations around the city.

What I Ate

With late nights of work, a baby to feed and play with and little to no time to cook I realized that my diet had almost completely consisted of carbs, carbs, carbs and… you guessed it, more carbs. I was packing down pastas and breads, potatoes and rice – all the things that sit heavily in your gut and end up on your thighs. I decided that the first step I need to take was cutting back on these horrible carb-rich foods. I began searching the web and learned a lot about Ketogenic meals. Though I haven’t stuck to it as much as I should, I have definitely cut down on my carb intake and subsequently the unnecessary calories that came with it.

Check out my new go-to recipe for a healthy and delicious pasta alternative.

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Parmesan Chicken Zoodles


  • 1tbsp butter
  • ½lb skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 7oz jarred sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup thickened cream (I used whipping cream)
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 2 large zucchini (made in to zoodles with a spiralizer)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Heat the butter in a pan/skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken strips and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pan-fry until the chicken is golden brown on all sides.
  2. Drain the sundried tomatoes from the oil and add to the pan. Add 1tbsp of the oil from the jar as well as the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. While the chicken and sundried tomatoes are being sautéed, prepare your Zoodles with a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler.
  4. Lower the heat on the pan and add the cream and parmesan cheese. Simmer while stirring until the cheese has melted.
  5. Stir in the zoodles and continue to simmer until the zoodles have softened (about 5-8 minutes).

Serves 6

394 calories per serving and 8g of carbs

Where I went

In an effort to relax and get back some ‘me-time’ I decided I was in need of a full body massage and preferably one that does something for my body besides inducing a physical calm.

I searched far and wide for something that would suit my body’s needs but ended up back at my old faithful spa, Subconscious Day Spa. Located on Fumin lu near Julu lu, Subconscious is a relaxing oasis set in the center of the city. From the moment you walk in, you’re greeted with serene design and calming tones. The ladies who work there are wonderful and it’s no wonder I keep coming back. At the recommendation of their staff, I decided to have a go at their new treatment, the Lymphatic Drainage Massage. See the description below:


60 minute/¥420

90 minute/¥598

120 minute/¥798

Using the gentle motion in the direction of lymph flow in order to unblock the obstructed lymph vessels, subtle strokes are applied to activate the overall functioning of the lymphatic system and allow lymph flow to continuously transport toxins from the body within the following 24 hours. Designed for detoxification, this treatment also reduces lymphedema and boosts the immune system.

Brought to an incredibly calm and private suite, complete with a private bathroom, shower and a tub in the center of the room, I knew I would be in for 90 minutes of pure relaxation. The masseuse wasted no time getting started – which I love as I have been to many other spas which seem to attempt to waste 10-15 minutes tottering about, all while you’re on the clock.

The back massage was wonderful and a lot gentler than I have experienced before. It resulted in a total submission to relaxation and I was pleased that I did not have to instruct the masseuse to go softer or harder.

After my whole body had been gently massaged with their signature Vitality Oil, the masseuse asked me to roll over and boy was I surprised. At this time, I received a 10 minute breast massage. To be honest, I was a little jarred by this but realized I had signed up for the lymphatic drainage massage. Where are your lymphs? In and around your chest, armpits and breasts. My bad. Overall, it really was relaxing and a unique experience to be massaged in a place you would normally think to be addressed.

After 90 minutes, catching myself mid-snore three times, and a wonderfully thorough full body massage, I left Subconscious in a state of near-euphoria. I finished my peppermint tea and descended the steps to exit on to the street. What I would have given to go back through that door and do it all over again, but alas, I hopped on my scooter and headed back over the bustling Yanan Road to home in Jingan. I would definitely recommend this experience, massage and spa for anyone looking for a little mommy-time.

What I Did

In our next issue I will write to you about different fitness classes and gyms that I have tried. I have nothing to report to you right now but am off to my first class at FitMonster in 30 minutes. Wish me luck and I will report back with all the sweaty details next month.