I’m beyond ecstatic that so many women are starting to get onto the ‘strong is the new skinny’ vibe and hitting up the weight room to show the men how it’s done. I used to always think that the thigh gap and having a slim body was healthy and achievable, and in some ways I thought it would be the answer to life’s problems; ‘maybe if I had that “perfect figure” I would somehow get further in life…’ maybe in the same way we think changing our hair to look like our fave celebrities hair will change our whole image!!

I’m not sure what it was that changed within me, but I remember getting back into the gym after a year’s hiatus and hitting a body pump class. It gave me a buzz that had me hooked straight away and the instructor was so motivational she made me believe in myself. ‘Champions weren’t born, they were made’ she used to say and it’s so true. Whilst some manage to maintain a naturally thin figure, most of us actually have to work hard for it.

Over the months as I saw my weights increase & my body size decrease, I started to gain more and more confidence. It felt amazing looking around the room and finding I was squatting more than the guys and nearly as much as my ripped instructor. This buzz motivated me to research weight lifting and I finally decided to give it a try on the gym floor. This was absolutely terrifying to me at first, but I’d made a commitment in my head and with my fiancé for support made the long walk to the free weights area and there was no looking back. I had finally found the drive I needed at the gym. No more slogging it away on treadmills or lifting tiny weights, and the best thing about it is I’ve stopped longing for the skinny lollipop look and instead just want to be STRONG (and then some more)! It’s no longer about just looking great in clothes but more about feeling healthy!

Along with this new style of training came a new style of eating (after all food is fuel). I now eat in order to realise my goals; to give me the energy I need to lift bigger in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect and I’m prone to falling off the wagon but I can safely say I now enjoy the gym and most importantly, I enjoy life. My training gives me the freedom to eat more and I hardly ever feel hunger. I try to stick to a high protein diet with lots of complex carbs such as sweet potato and brown rice. It’s also important not to fear the fat! Healthy fats are important to the body; they help control hunger, promote a healthy metabolism and also carry a lot of good nutrients required by the body.

It’s great to hear of women like Daisy Lowe talking about their desire to be fit not thin. In her interview with the Sunday times magazine Style Daisy talks about having stopped the diets that led to her being miserable and weak and how she now focuses on being fit. She says,

‘I can dance for longer. I feel stronger, healthier, brighter and less stressed. I’m the most balanced I’ve ever been’.

I think that most of us can relate to her when she says diets made her miserable and feeling starved, I know I can hold my hand up to this. Style magazine are going to be introducing a team of top experts to advise and inspire their readers to get active this summer, and I for one believe this to be a worthwhile cause.

I can’t stand when I hear friends or even the women next to me on the train, talking about how they have started on their quest to get in shape for their next holiday two weeks before they jet off… this is NOT HEALTHY people, we only feel miserable for those two weeks and most of us even more miserable when we lose only a few pounds, to then put several more on whilst we are away. If we start to think of being strong and healthy as a lifestyle, eating a well-balanced diet and keeping fit with a mixture of weights & HIIT, we will be able to maintain our figures all year round, which means no fad starvation diets for that week’s special event or holiday.

I still have a long way to go myself and I am constantly finding out new things not only about the world of health & fitness but about my own body.  I say find a way that works for you and one that also fits in with your lifestyle.  If you focus on feeling & looking good on the inside, you’ll be surprised with how soon it’ll be reflected on the outside.

Hope you all have a healthy & happy week and if you are bored or stuck in a rut at the gym then go ahead and try something new (maybe even take that leap and venture to the weight room, I don’t think you’ll regret it!) x x

Protein Pancakes

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Hope you are all having a good weekend so far, mine has consisted of the cinema, the gym, a bit of shopping & trying to avoid eating too much junk and it’s safe to say I’ve been pretty darn successful so far *pats on back*.

I do love weekends for the obvious reasons – not being in work – but mainly because it allows me more time to experiment in the kitchens especially for breakfast, which is usually some rushed oats with random store cupboard ingredients chucked in. So in honour of today’s leg day I decided to make a batch of protein pancakes. Mmmhmmm!!!

Today’s pancakes were an experiment but worked out so well. I think the main thing behind having a good protein pancake is using a great tasting powder; some powders can taste too bitter or too chemically, but not today’s. I used Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey in Cookies & Crème. It isn’t usually my favourite as a shake BUT it worked so well in these pancakes.

So for the pancake batter you will need:
1 tbsp coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
½ banana
1 scoop Whey protein
2 egg whites
3 tbsp Oats
1 tbsp Chia seed
2 tbsp almond milk

1. Mash the banana in a large bowl.
2. Whisk in the protein powder & egg whites.
3. Mix in your oats & chia seeds (you can blend oats into flour first but my blender is broke so I just chucked them in whole)
4. Slowly add your milk until you reach a batter like consistency.

Once you have your batter ready,

5. Heat up your coconut oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
6. Add around 1tbsp of batter to your pan for each pancake & cook on one side before flipping them to cook on the other side.
7. Stack the pancakes up on your plate & enjoy!

Toppings:

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I used peanut butter, Greek yoghurt and raspberries but you can use whatever you want. I recommend using a sauce or the Greek yoghurt as they may be slightly dry without.

Lets have one last close up eh?!?

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Have a healthy & happy Sunday guys!

Quinoa – The Super grain of the Future

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Quinoa (Pronounced: keen-wa) is a seed that was domesticated for human consumption, three to four thousand years ago. It grows in the Andes region of South America and was once one of three staple foods of the Inca civilisation, who in turn referred to it as the mother grain. It is nowadays often called The Supergrain of the Future.

Nutritionally, quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine of the essential amino acids, whereas, all other plant based foods would need to be combined with another food to make a complete protein. This makes quinoa an ideal ingredient to include in a vegetarian/vegan diet. The only other food sources that provide a complete protein are animal-based; such as meat & dairy products, which of course do not fit in the above lifestyle. It also means that you could live on quinoa alone and be nutritionally satiated.

Quinoa is also packed with dietary fibre; and is easy to digest, rich in magnesium & iron and better still it is completely Gluten Free.

In the kitchen, quinoa can be prepared and cooked in the same way as rice. I usually use two parts water to one part quinoa, which I sometimes add stock or a variety of spices to (more on this below)

It is super simple to add to any recipe and I love to eat it in replace of rice or to bulk out salads in summer. Today I used it to make a light and tasty tuna salad…

Tuna Quinoa salad

Serves 4

2 x tin tuna
1 cup Quinoa
2 large handfuls spinach
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
1 Avocado
1 x can chickpeas
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Freshly squeezed lemon

Soak the quinoa in boiling water for 5 minutes to help remove the bitter coating, then rinse thoroughly in cold water. Add the Quinoa to 2 cups of water & a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer for 15minutes and then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together the tuna, spinach, tomatoes, avocado and chickpeas and after the 5 minutes are up add the Quinoa and mix once again. Finally, drizzle the salad with the oil & lemon, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Please keep your eyes peeled for more recipes using quinoa… including my quinoa porridge fit for a paleo diet!

Everybody loves a bit of chocolate now and again right?!? (Or probably everyday if you’re anything like me) and it’s so much easier to make raw chocolate then it would seem. I love making my own and adding extra ingredients to it for a quick and easy treat. It satisfies my sweet tooth almost instantly PLUS if you make it using the right ingredients it’s full of antioxidants & has amazing health benefits when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

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(Please note: the following information is a result of my findings, to find out more or make your mind up please research further)

Cacao
Anti-aging
Boosts brain power
Improve Vascular function
Detoxifies the liver
Mood enhancing

Coconut Oil
Promotes weight loss
Regulates blood sugar
Anti-inflammatory in the digestive tracks
Energy Booster
(Coconut oil is also great used on the body as a moisturiser & a hair mask)

 

Get to the making bit already!!! I hear you shouting.

Okay, okay…

 

To make the chocolate, mix together 2tbsp of raw cacao powder with 1tbsp of coconut oil & a further 1tbsp of maple syrup. Add into moulds and freeze for a minimum of 2 hours. It really is that easy!

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You could even take out the maple syrup and use 2tbsp of coconut oil, adding some honey or stevia to the mix if you want to sweeten.

Furthermore, I added some raspberries, almonds & goji berries to some of my moulds before pouring in the chocolate mix but you could add anything you want.

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The possibilities really are endless!!!

Lastly, I prefer to store mine in the freezer and take them out as and when I need a treat (in fact, I’m walking straight to the freezer when I finish this post, I’m addicted)

Happy chocolatiering!!!

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Miami Baby…

Whoop!  I finally booked mine and my fiancés flights to Miami in February and I couldn’t be more excited!!!  Not only will it be my first trip to the States & mine and my fiancés first big holiday abroad as a married couple BUT we will also be attending a lovely friend’s wedding while we are there.

Finally, I have a reason to bust my ass even more at the gym and throw myself 110% into my diet plan…  Operation abs is a go go!!!

At the start of the year I set a resolution to have abs by the time we roll into 2014 and after a strong start to the year I can feel myself slipping.  Summer is here and ‘surely that’s a reason to enjoy myself?’ But a few too many ice creams have resulted in a few too many pounds added.  I’ve come too far to ruin it now though and I’m determined to stick to my goals.  So after walking around a beautiful village market this morning, full of scrumptious food & sunning myself in the garden, I’ve decided there is no time like the present to get back in the saddle, so to speak.  I need to swap all those sugary treats I’ve been consuming with some clean and equally delicious treats.  They are not always lower in calories but they will definitely result in a lower number on the tape measure (I try not to weigh myself as muscle weighs more than fat & as long as I feel good, a number doesn’t matter).

Now, in the spirit of reducing the amount of processed CRAP I’ve been eating, here’s my Almond Choc Chip ‘Cookie’ Recipe I just came up with.  Hope you enjoy!!!

ALMOND CHOC CHIP COOKIES

1.5 CUPS OF ALMOND MEAL
3 TBSP COCONUT OIL
¼ CUP XYLITOL
1 EGG
¼ TSP SALT
½ TSP VANILLA ESSENCE
¼ TSP BAKING SODA
1 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
¼ CUP CHOC CHIPS

Preheat the Oven to 175 (350) degrees.

Beat the egg with the xylitol and coconut oil, then add all the other ingredients except the choc chips and mix together well.  Then fold in the choc chips.  Next put balls of the mixture (around 1tbsp) on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly but not too much.  Add to the oven for around 12-15 minutes

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Remove from the oven and leave to cool

ENJOY with a good brew

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P.s – The mixture also tasted great before cooked.  Next time I might leave out the egg & baking soda and try adding it to my favourite frozen yoghurt (recipe will come)