How to deal with those pregnancy cravings

From morning sickness, to cravings, pregnancy can throw your normal eating habits into quite the spin, and at 17 weeks pregnant, I am only too familiar with the lure of a carb cravings, sugar cravings (bread, pasta, potatoes, cheese and pickle sandwiches, carrot cake – you name it!) and being turned off my usual healthy choices including ALL vegetables other than lettuce and sweetcorn! It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least!

 

Many of you are asking me how I deal with my cravings during pregnancy, or how and what I’m eating, and the answer is I’m trying to eat as best as I can and stick to healthy choices like protein smoothies, fruits, yoghurts and rice cakes with choccy or nut butter. However, there has been many a day, when I couldn’t face cooking or eating and only a cheese and pickle sandwich with a diet coke will do! It’s such a challenging time but try not to feel guilt or anxiety around your cravings, and remember it’s all just a phase, which will pass as your pregnancy progresses – or once your bubba is here.

Despite feeling rubbish at the moment, I’m really enjoying being pregnant again!

 

So what do I do to TRY and tame these cravings?

My top tip is to exercise! It’s the only thing that really helps me feel good. All those feel-good endorphins seem to set me on a better path to eating well. However, when I haven’t been able to work out, brushing my teeth also works!

If I’m still climbing the walls after a workout, a big glass of water and a good old pep talk – then I just try to have something good for me that’s still sweet or satisfying, such as fruit with yoghurt and homemade granola.

I try to stick to the 80/20 rule too – if I’m having healthy, nutrient-dense foods 80% of the time, then I know that there’s a little room for satisfying those good-old cravings.

 

Homemade granola with strawberries, greek yoghurt & honey

 

Suddenly feeling peckish?

Yes I’m getting that too!
Often fluctuations in blood sugar levels, lack of sleep and tiredness can upset your hormonal balance and appetite, so I’m eating little and often, and being really careful about my sugar intake – I know all to well that by constantly allowing my sweet tooth to win will change my tastebuds so that I continue to crave sweeter foods. It can easily spiral out of control!

 

NutriStrength vanilla pea protein blended with blackberries, banana & coconut butter!

 

I could literally go on and on and write a whole load of guidelines for nutrition in pregnancy, but honestly, I just say do your best and don’t beat yourself. Just try to do some damage limitation by incorporating as much as you can of the good stuff (when possible) and use my blog posts and Guide to a Fit & Healthy Pregnancy for inspiration and recipes.

Above all, remember to listen to your body and don’t focus on weight loss during pregnancy! Your focus now is to create a healthy environment for your unborn baby –you’re not going to build muscle or create an amazing physique during this time, and no matter how hard you try, it’s inevitable that your body will store body fat to protect your baby, prepare your body for birth and breastfeeding. Remember that this is just a short phase of your life and there is plenty of time to get your body back to how you want it once your baby is safely in your arms.

 

It was so easy to stay active first time around, pregnancy no.2 is already a little more difficult!

 

Mums to be, are you struggling with your diet or eating habits during pregnancy? If so please feel free to drop me a line and I will see if I can help.

In the meantime why not give this healthy(ish) chocolate cake a try – see below. Hopefully it will hit the spot – it works every time with me!

You can also find more recipes in either my Pregnancy ebook or my Sweet Clean Eats eBook.

Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 200g coconut sugar
  • 300g 70% Lindt dark chocolate
  • 2tbsp ground almonds
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • 225g coconut oil (or you can 
use organic butter)

Method:

  • Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil in bowl over saucepan of simmering water.
  • Whisk the eggs with sugar, mixed spice, salt and ground almonds, then fold the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture.
  • Grease a cake tin with coconut oil and sprinkle with ground almonds before pouring mixture in (you may want to use baking paper to stop the cake from sticking depending on your tin – my tin was around 8” in diameter), then bake in an oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes.
  • When cooked (test by sticking a knife in the middle. If it comes out clean it’s done) leave out to cool.
  • Place in a fridge for approx. 8 hours before eating (if you can wait that long!)

Maximise your workouts

If you’re a busy mum, running your own business and rushed off your feet pretty much everyday (sounds familiar right?!) I urge you NOT to give up on your workouts. They are the one thing that can actually make you feel sane – and like you are doing something for YOU.

 

That said, it’s so important that you make the most of every training session – when time is of the essence there is absolutely no reason why you can’t have a super amazing workout in 45 minutes. People are often surprised by the limited amount of time I actually spend exercising – three times a week is usually more than enough for me – even when I’m not pregnant!

 

Here are a few of my top tips to maximise each workout – be prepared to sweat!

 

Go for big lifts

Don’t be daunted by this – I’m simply talking about big compound lifts that work more than one muscle group at a time (such as a squat, deadlifts, pull ups and so on) rather than isolation exercises (such as a biceps curls and leg extensions) that isolate a single muscle group. These moves will give you more ‘bang for your buck’ and give you a full-body workout because you are working multiple muscle groups at once. The benefits? More calories burnt in a shorter amount of time, whilst becoming stronger all over! Clever eh?

If you’re lucky enough to have a prowler in your gym, add some heavy sprints into your next workout!

 

Tempo

Tempo is a great way of varying your workout and a term used to refer to the speed at which you execute the movement – time under tension (TUT). It’s a good way of using your muscles to control the weight instead of using momentum – or letting the weights fall with gravity.

For example, if you were to do a Leg press with a tempo of 3010; The first number represents the eccentric load, so lowering of the weight towards you, stretching the muscle, so this would be 3 seconds. The second number is the time at the bottom of that movement, so 0 is no rest or pause. The third number is the concentric load, so pushing of the weight away from you contracting the muscle, so in this case 1 second. The fourth number is the rest at the top of that movement, so no rest at the top of pushing the weight away from you.

Varying your tempo can bring different results i.e. exploding through a movement, will help you to train for speed and power, whilst slow and controlled movements will help with hypertrophy (building muscle) and strength.

As a rule of thumb, longer tempos improve body composition and can contribute to fat loss because the muscle is under tension for longer. I tend to stick to the 2121 tempo for a lot of my exercises but again it depends on the exercise I’m doing and what I’m working towards. Sometimes it’s great just to throw in more variety to my workouts each week to mix things up.

 

Engage your brain

I see a lot of people working out in the gym but they’re not really thinking about the muscles they’re working, just moving and throwing the weights around – then looking at their phone or chatting with a pal. This is great if your main focus is just to move and be active, but it isn’t going to necessarily bring you the results you’re looking for, especially if that is to build muscle or shape your body!

Mind to muscle connection is making a connection with the muscle you want to be working, which ultimately comes from good form, technique and really thinking about that muscle you want to be working. It takes practise and can actually take many years to perfect but if the intent is there, you will still make progress. You’re basically sending a signal from your muscle to your brain telling it to contract, which therefore increases the number of muscle fibres being recruited when lifting.

Next time you’re working out either put your finger onto the muscle you want to be working, or really focus on it mentally. This will not only help to improve your body composition but it will also help you to really focus on the job at hand. Give it a go!

My main focus when training clients is to make sure they perfect their technique and feel it where they should!

 

Think about your Reps

You can vary your training by either doing an exercise for time – or for reps. Sometimes it can be good to just mix things up for fun and have a break from the norm.

If your main goal is fat loss and building lean muscle tissue, then always opt for a combination of resistance training (around three sessions a week), focusing on reps, tempo and appropriate rest periods, as well as HIIT training, where you alternate the intensity from high to low, bringing your heart rate up and down. I like to keep my HIIT workouts short and sweet at around 15-20 minutes once or twice a week, which means I can keep the intensity high and get it done! Interval training is highly effective for reducing body fat and can lead to an increase in lean muscle mass, which in turn boosts your metabolism and helps you burn fat more efficiently – even when resting!

Battle ropes! A great exercise for your HIIT workout! 

 

Stay hydrated

There’s no reason why you should be having anything other than water during your workouts, so always stay hydrated because water is necessary for both muscle, brain and heart function.

If you are doing a lot of endurance work, then you might want to think about taking on board some electrolytes during your workout – but sugar-laden energy drinks are a no-no and can actually be quite taxing on your digestive system. I always aim to have 4 litres throughout the day, so when it comes to my workout my body is already really hydrated and easily topped up with a few sips of water here and there.

This Electrolyte Blend from NutriStrength is brilliant – get 15% off with my code MIRELLA15

 

Get your food right

Technically what you eat before your workout isn’t going to fuel you, its more what’s already inside your body and been stored as glycogen (stored energy). For example if you like to workout early in the morning, you might want to think about eating carbs the night before to help fuel your body for the morning. I personally wouldn’t recommend going into your workout starving or with an empty stomach because you will feel fatigued and won’t be able to give it 100%. Also if you like to workout fasted first thing, it’s highly unlikely for most that you’ll get the best out of a big weights session. Cardio fasted is fine though.

When planning your workouts plan your foods in a way that fuels your body – so ideally you eat no less than one hour before your workout – and stick to foods that you know YOUR body can tolerate and performs well on.

For example some of my clients will really thrive of a carb-based meal before they workout. Whereas others, who are maybe more ‘carb insensitive’ find that it makes them sluggish and sleepy. If the latter is you, you’d be better of choosing some lean protein and a piece of fruit as opposed to a bowl of pasta! Consuming too many fats pre-workout can also be hard on your digestive system because they take longer to digestive so keep these to a minimum, as well as fibre-rich foods.

My favourite pre-workout meal (resistance workout) is lean protein such as grilled chicken and quinoa salad, or grilled chicken with apple slices and peanut butter. The protein from the chicken contains amino acids, which is used by the body to restore muscle tissue, whilst the fats in the peanut butter will supply slow steady energy, which are both filling and satiating.

Easy-peasy roast chicken & quinoa salad

 

Recover well…

You want your body to repair and recover quickly and efficiently after each workout so that you can give it all you’ve got next time you hit the gym. To help with this ALWAYS try to eat within an hour of working out. This doesn’t need to be a protein shake – but if you are short on time and don’t have time to fix anything in the kitchen then this is a great option. Other options are a meal containing lean protein, good quality carbs such as potato (sweet or white), rice or quinoa and lots of veggies. Alternatively, a bowl of porridge goes down really nicely and you could throw some protein powder, fruit & nuts into the bowl to make a little more substantial.

Fancy something sweet PWO instead…try my banana cake recipe!

 

I hope you found this blog really useful and you’re looking forward to putting it all into practise in your next workout.

If you are keen to learn more about training and shaping your body then my next Ibiza FitRetreat starts in September and is a great way of learning how to lift weights safely and effectively.

You can also join my next 8-Week Fitness Journey in October where I will put together a personal home or gym workout to suit YOUR goals. The 8 weeks leads us up to Christmas just in time to pick out your festive frocks and enjoy all those parties! You will get healthy meal plans to follow with calorie/macros, daily motivation from myself and a private Facebook group, and support to help you unleash your own power within! Find out more here….The Body For You!

Join me in September for an empowering 5 days in the sun! 

 

 

Training when pregnant (with number 2!)

Have you heard? Yes I’m pregnant! Number two is on the way and we’re all super excited – including Atari, who has started to point at mummy’s tummy whenever I ask where the baby is 🙂

 

Is there a baby in there? 

 

So, I’m 13 weeks and as you will see from my Instagram feed, I’m still training. Yes, you can still train when pregnant (ALWAYS speak with a Health Professional first), in fact exercising when expecting can have many benefits such as;

  • Helping to decrease any pain or discomfort that you may experience,
  • Helping to energise you and overcome fatigue,
  • Improving the quality of your sleep,
  • Preventing constipation (another common symptom during pregnancy),
  • Easing back, pelvic pain and any other niggles like sciatica,
  • Reducing the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth

(I found that it also really sped up my recovery after having Atari),

and

  • last but not least it can help to regulate and boost your mood – which is great considering my emotions are all over the place right now (sorry to my hubby Tom!).

There are so many benefits to exercising throughout your pregnancy that I hope to train all the way to the end. With Atari I trained right up until the last week, albeit modifying my workouts and slowing things down as I approached my due date. And of course I will be sharing my journey (and bump pics) along the way!

Here’s my pregnancy journey so far!

 

How have you felt during the first trimester of your pregnancy?

Fairly good and much better than my first pregnancy where I felt nauseous everyday from around seven to seventeen weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, this time round I’ve had an occasional bout of nausea, but it quickly subsides. My main complaint is tiredness! Some days the fatigue has actually floored me and I’ve had to nap in the day when Atari naps (if she naps!).  I’ve certainly struggled to find the energy to workout and my appetite has been very up and down.

 

Has it been different to your first pregnancy with Atari?

It’s completely different. This time round I have a toddler to run after, plus Tom, my husband works away a lot, so my weekends are busy keeping Atari entertained – there’s not much downtime.

 

How’s your training so far?

It’s up and down and some days my motivation for working out is non-existent. Luckily over the years I’ve got used to listening to my body, so I know when it’s time take it easy and just rest. My aim is to lift three times per week and swim twice a week.

Training wise I’ve had to really reduce the load I’m used to lifting and take longer rest periods, but right now my focus isn’t strength or fitness. My main focus is purely for my unborn baby and making sure he or she is developing well, whilst using exercise to boost my mood to feel good, which should then encourage me to eat healthier (more on that in a minute!).

 

Has your training been different to your first pregnancy?

Yes, I actually feel like I have more energy for training this time around and because I’ve been through it before I feel like I know my limits a little better – plus there’s not so much nausea to contend with!

My goal isn’t strength or to keep my body fat at a certain level – the most important thing right now is to workout for a fit and healthy pregnancy. The goal of keeping my abs for the summer has well and truly gone!

 

Keeping fit & active throughout pregnancy is a must for me!

 

Do you think you are showing quicker this time?

Most definitely earlier for the first trimester! My tummy changes in size by the day – sometimes by the hour!

In the morning I don’t look pregnant, but by the evening – wow!

I must say that it’s been very hard to hide these last weeks of my first trimester and most people who know me and have seen me have spotted it straight away! I’m so pleased that the cat is finally out of the bag it and that I don’t have to hide my little baby bump away anymore.


Comparison between my 1st pregnancy and current pregnancy at 13 weeks 🙂

 

How about the dreaded cravings?

Ha! They are all over the place! When I was pregnant with Atari all I wanted was potatoes! Fish & chips was also a regular occurrence and I totally went off vegetables!

This time round I want biscuits or cake (or both!). In fact all last week all I could think about was cheesecake! It got so bad so that Tom actually had to go and get me some at 8pm at night!

When I’m not obsessing over sweet things, I’ve wanted simple things like baked potatoes with cheese, cheese and pickle sandwiches, cream cheese on toast… cheese, cheese, cheese!

It’s also so hot in Ibiza that the only thing that really quenches my thirst at the moment are fizzy drinks like Fanta Lemon & Diet Coke. I’ve been trying not to drink so much of these as they’re not too good for you, and instead trying to have sparkling water with some fresh juice.

 

Dolce de leche cheesecake heaven (I blame the baby!)

 

Have you tried to resist or replace these cravings with something else?

I’m certainly trying!

Today for instance I opted for a bowl of broccoli, tuna, sweetcorn and a little mayo, instead of giving in to my craving for cheese and pickle sandwiches with salt and vinegar crisps (don’t judge me!).

It didn’t quite hit the spot and the broccoli actually made me feel sick, but I ate it!

I’ve never really had much of a battle in my life with cravings, I guess because I always enjoying eating foods that I know will make me feel good, but this is on a whole new level!

 

I used to love you…now you disgust me, lol!

 

I hope I have given you an insight into my first trimester and that some other mums-to-be can relate to this blog. If you have any pregnancy training questions I will be happy to help whenever I can. Alternatively check out my Yummy Mummy Guide To Pregnancy eBook on my website – and remember to keep following my journey on Instagram.

 

Nutrition made easy

There are plenty of fitness facts you can argue over, but the fact that abs are made in the kitchen is not one of them. When it comes to body fat reduction – 20 per cent of it is fitness – the other 80 per cent is diet. That’s a big proportion!

But lets face it – there’s ALOT of confusing information out there! So I’ve put together my top nutrition tips, which will promise slow yet sustainable progress; no going hungry, no cutting out food groups and most of all no crazy diet to stick too.

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive – all you need is a few tweaks here and there and you can have a healthy lifestyle the smart way.

 

  1. Eat regularly, so you don’t go too hungry 

Not eating all day and then going mad at dinner is not cool. It simply leaves you ravenous and open to making the wrong choices because you’re so darn hungry. On average I tend to eat every three hours – or whenever I feel hungry. I tend to wait until I’m approximately 70-80 per cent hungry because otherwise I’d just be constantly picking and not giving my body a rest from the digestion process. I rarely allow myself to get too peckish because that’s when I’ll reach for something naughty to try to hit the spot quicker.

Eating little & often means I make healthy food choices and drip-feed my body sensibly throughout the day.

 

These Dark Chocolate Energy Boosters are a great healthy snack, and keep well in the fridge! – Recipe available in my eBook!

 

  1. Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water

Yes I’m talking about four litres a day – sometimes more if I’ve had an intense training session! It’s so important to stay hydrated because every part of your body – muscles, cells, and organs require water to perform at their optimum level. What’s more, hunger can often be mistaken for thirst, which means you could actually be thinking your hungry but actually all you need in a big glass of water.

 

  1. Stay away from caffeine after 4pm

If you find it difficult to switch off at night – it could be down to caffeine! I never have coffee after 4pm because I know I’ll be tossing and turning until gone midnight instead of falling asleep at my usual time between 10 & 11pm.

So what does my coffee schedule look like? Well I always start the day with a mug of hot water and lemon, which feels really cleansing and is good for digestion after a night of fasting (when you sleep).

It’s around an hour after I wake that I enjoy my first coffee. I’ll then have one or two more throughout the day, especially on the days I workout as I would rather use coffee as a pre-workout as opposed to a synthetic or sugar-laden energy drink.

Not everyone is the same, as everyone has a different level of tolerance to caffeine but if you find yourself not sleeping too well at night, have a think about your coffee intake and timing throughout the day, it could make a huge difference.

 

I just love this Electrolyte Blend from NutriStrength…get 15% off with my code MIRELLA15

 

  1. Get plenty of sleep

Have you ever had a bad nights sleep and then found yourself hungry for comfort food and sugar the next day? We’ve all been there – especially us mamas! Basically lack of sleep has a massive impact on your body’s capability to produce enough leptin, the hormone that makes you feel satisfied, whilst encouraging your body to produce excess ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry. To make matters worse, feeling tired can also have a huge impact on how you train, whilst impairing your muscle’s recovery! Phew!

That said, I always try to get an average of 7 to 8 hours a night. Any less than this and I will start to feel quite drained after four or five days and need a big top in the form of a very early night – or lie in. Everyone is different, some people need more sleep, some need less but I find being in bed by 11pm and getting up between 6am & 7am works well for me.

 

 

  1. Fill up on veggies

If you like a big plate of food to make you feel satisfied then make veggies your best friend! Not only are they packed with fibre and vitamins and minerals, but they can also help massively with satiety, meaning you feel more full and less likely to need anything after dinner – yes including that calorific pudding! My fav has to be broccoli – a staple in my house because it is full of vitamin K (good for bone health) and vitamin C (great for skin and helping to reduce wrinkles by helping to produce collagen!) and leaves you feeling fuller too!

 

Simple but healthy & delicious: oven-roasted chicken, quinoa, broccoli & sauerkraut!

 

  1. Don’t fear fat

There’s a common fear that fat will make you fat – it won’t, as long as you stick to healthy fats found in the likes of nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and avocados  – and not the trans fats found in processed junk! In fact, a diet rich in healthy fats is absolutely essential to a healthy diet – plus the right types of fats can help you lose weight, build muscle, balance your hormones (especially your thyroid!) boost your immune system whilst providing your body with a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

I tend to eat oily fish twice a week in order to get enough essential fats in my diet, plus I will also include good fats in the form of avocado, almonds and olive oil into most meals and snacks.

I also take 1g of Metabolics Omega 3 every day, which are great for improving brain function, your mood, the quality of your skin (think clearer and softer – yup!) and are just great for your general health and immunity.

 

Check out Metabolics range of quality supplements HERE

 

  1. Avoid Alcohol

Sorry to be a kill joy but alcohol will have a massive impact on your results – not because of the (empty) calories but because of the effect it has on your hormones, sleep, energy, and appetite.

You basically need to work twice as hard to burn off alcohol before you can tap into burning your body’s fat stores because it interferes with the absorption of nutrients, plus it is the first fuel to be used by the body, which therefore postpones the fat-burning process and contributes to greater fat storage. Alcohol can also affect your sleep quality, your ability to build muscle, your recovery, increase your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and make you more likely to crave comfort foods and carbs. Have I convinced you yet?

I’m not saying don’t go out and have fun, but if drinking is a regular occurrence and you still want to see results from your training, then perhaps switch to sparkling water with a slice of lime – you could always pretend it’s a gin and tonic! Or how about just having the tonic and “rim” the glass with gin! (I learnt this tip from a friend!)

 

Tonic without the gin 🙂

 

  1. Eat protein with every meal

Protein not only plays a huge role in building muscle, but it also helps to keep you feeling full by suppressing the hunger hormone ghrelin while optimizing the satiety hormone leptin. Aside from that, the very act of eating protein gives your body a metabolic boost as you expend calories digesting it – it basically has more of a thermogenic effect than any other macronutrient!

I aim to have one portion of protein (30g) with every meal and snack – especially breakfast (around 4-5 small meals per day basically). Protein in the form of protein pancakes or eggs (my breakfast staple) definitely helps regulate my appetite for the rest of the day and helps replenish my protein stores, which therefore protects my lean muscle tissue after a good nights sleep.


If you struggle to increase your protein intake, NutriStrength protein powders are fantastic for making protein smoothies & Atari loves them too! 🙂

 

Learn more about nutrition from me and how to use it to achieve your own body goals by signing up to my next 8 Week Fitness Journey starting 10 July. Click HERE for details!

My Ibiza FitRetreat – a life changing week for all!

Have you ever wondered what goes on at one of my Ibiza FitRetreats…take a look!

Held just twice a year – a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into the organisation of one of these. Guests come from far and wide to have a week filled with the best training, the best food and the best memories – and I aim to please! The purpose of this week is to inspire, motivate and empower women to become stronger, happier and more confident versions of themselves and from the feedback of this retreat – I think I did just that!

Here’s a sneak peak at what our week looked like – one that won’t be forgotten for a while!

Day 1

Arrival day!

Half of my guests arrive to another glorious day in Ibiza, but first things first – FOOD – prepared by our own Personal Chefs Wild Thymes Ibiza!

We all get to know each other over a lunch of spicy turkey burgers, raw slaw and pita bread before a quick rooftop HIIT workout to blow away the cobwebs.

A few more guests arrive in the evening just in time for dinner, which is a balsamic & garlic marinated beefsteak served with polenta chips and a large salad.

It’s then early nights all round in the luxurious villa to prepare for an action packed day tomorrow.

 

Warming up ready for our 1st workout!

 

Day 2 

With 10 of the 12 guests now checked in, we hit the beach first thing for a HIIT workout and sprints. It’s then back to the villa for a replenishing breakfast of scrambled eggs, rye bread & tomatoes, plus granola, yoghurt, fruit and of course coffee! The girls then have a few hours to relax before a Pilates class with Louise, Carte Blanche Body Balance, which is fuelled by a NutriStrength pea protein vanilla, pineapple & banana smoothie.

It’s then time to enjoy the sunshine and the pool before lunch.

In the afternoon we make yummy protein balls with one of our Chefs in preparation for our hike the next day. Reluctantly – they all go in the fridge. Definitely one to look forward too!

We finish the day with a lower body workout on the roof before enjoying a delicious BBQ dinner, made up of mackerel parcels with fresh chilli, lemon, dill & local fennel, chicken & chorizo, spicy bean burgers, chargrilled veg, an almond pesto dressing and a large salad.

 

Hitting the beach early for an energising morning workout!

 

Day 3

This morning we wake ourselves up with a 45 minute upper body & core workout before heading down to breakfast; a protein-packed egg frittata.

We’re then all ready for an 8km hike. Our backpacks are loaded up with homemade flapjacks prepared by our Chefs, and of course the protein balls, and a picnic lunch of baked falafel, raw slaw made with carrot, coriander, red cabbage & orange and flatbreads, which we enjoy on the beach.

The hike takes around 4 hours and it’s hot – so some downtime by the pool is in order for the afternoon, before yoga on the roof with Emma David, Spiritual Gypsy, for a good old stretch. It’s a very emotional practice with the girls embracing in a heartfelt group hug at the end. I love a bit of girl-power! It was like the class had lifted so many of our stresses – a really powerful and emotional feeling and a great way to kick of open-air cinema night!

The evening started with a Spanish tapas dinner (cod in ratatouille, chilli & garlic prawns, tomato turkey meatballs, beetroot alioli, salad) followed by the movie ‘Lion’, which we watched on huge beanbags with blankets, whilst snacking on popcorn and sipping a glass of cava. Work hard – play hard, right?

 

How we do movie nights in Ibiza!

Day 4

Tuesday kicked of with a full body session on the roof (keep an eye on my YouTube for my promo video coming soon, as all the action from Day 3 and this morning’s workout was filmed by Infin8), followed by a breakfast of plum tomatoes cooked with chilli & garlic with baked eggs on top – delicious. There was quinoa porridge too.

Some of the guests then went for a wander around Ibiza Town, whilst the others joined a talk with Soul Empowerment Coach Abi Fox – From Self-Doubt to Self-Love.

It was all back to camp for Spanish-style chicken kebabs served with roasted Mediterranean veggies, black olives, cherry tomatoes and capers, and a rocket, pickled beetroot and walnut salad. That afternoon we hit the pool for a glute workout with a difference before Paella night! The ladies were shown how to cook a seafood and mixed Paella, which we then tucked into and thoroughly enjoyed.

 Dining al fresco every night!

 Day 5

Our last full day started with legs and glutes on the roof, focusing on strength (squats & deadlifts) and metabolic exercises like squat jumps and box jumps! This was followed by a delicious breakfast of poached eggs with turkey and chicken pieces, toast, quinoa porridge and fruits.

It was then Yogalates with Louise by the pool, before a soothing massage to help revive their tired muscles – very well deserved after all their hard work!

For the rest of the afternoon we all had fun lounging in the sun by the pool and recharging for the night ahead – our farewell dinner!

Everyone got dressed up for an amazing meal at a Lebanese restaurant called Patchwork, which overlooks the sea in Talamanca Bay and is just beautiful. We wined and dined with delicious healthy foods and enjoyed cocktails and vino (and socialised out of our lycra!); an absolutely fantastic end to a perfect week!

 

 Don’t we scrub up well! Not sure who the guy in the background is though lol

 Day 6

Leaving day. We enjoyed one last breakfast together before saying our goodbyes. Some ladies were off home – whilst some stayed in sunny Ibiza for a few more days. It was hard saying goodbye to such an amazing group of women but I hope to see some of them again soon on my next FitRetreat in September 22nd-27th – click HERE for more info!

If you are interested in joining in the fun, I only have a few spaces left. Contact me if you’d like to take advantage of my current special offer.

I’ll hopefully look forward to seeing you soon!

Why I lift weights – and why you should too! Part 2

Last week we talked about the benefits of strength training (read Part 1 here) but I wanted to finish it off with a part 2 and some other reasons why I love training with weights – there’s so much to say!

When I first picked up a (heavy -ish) barbell ten years ago I didn’t realise its diversity. I’ve used strength training to help me win the 2013 World Beauty Fitness & Fashion Inc (WBFF) championship, to help me lose fat, to help me sculpt curves, to help me through my pregnancy – and to help me bounce back again! You name it – weights have helped me in every way – and I love the fact that I’ve been able to mould my body to exactly the way I want it to look through training.

 

10 years later, 10kg heavier & x10 happier!

 

So how do I maintain a womanly shape when lifting? This is a question I get asked A LOT!

I personally don’t train my upper body much other than adding on a few shoulder & back exercises onto one of my lower body workouts each week – after years of competing, I find that my upper body responds so much faster to training than my lower body and as I have an athletic shape, rather than hour-glass curves (we can’t have everything right!) my priority is to build my legs and glutes to give me the proportions I prefer. I’m definitely a smaller top half and a bigger booty type of gal!

 

Thanks to Kisaiya for the beautiful outfit for hosting my Ibiza FitRetreat

 

I basically use weights to bring out the shape I desire by focusing mainly on an area I want to improve. For example I tend to lift with a range of high rep and lighter weights when I’m trying to “tone”, and then a low rep range and heavier weights when I’m trying to “build”. It all depends on what body goals I am looking to accomplish at that time.

Why not give one of my WORKOUTS a try!

There is so much more than body composition when it comes to strength training too…

  • The post-workout buzz is so much more fun, motivating, inspiring and empowering.
  • Your metabolic rate will stay heightened for 48-hours as opposed to just a few after cardio, which means you burn more fat even at rest!
  • I can get a really good workout in in just 45 minutes – but feel the buzz for hours after!
  • It can help with stress. Just throwing some weights around and lifting some heavy $hit can be a real mood lifter!
  • It makes me feel strong and empowered.
  • It helps clears my mind – a bit of ME time!
  • It’s made me love my body!
  • It’s helped me meet some of my best most genuine friends – especially when I was training for my first WBFF competition.
  • It keeps me focused and disciplined.
  • It helps me set new goals – and inspires me to improve and challenge myself.
  • It keeps me strong – a must when you’re a busy mama!

 

With my Diva Sisters and friends for life!

 

Have I inspired you yet? If so, here are some of my top tips for cracking the weights section of the gym. Good luck – and enjoy the burn!

1. Get your form and technique right

If you aren’t confident in what you are doing then you should seriously look at hiring a good PT. They will be able to teach you the basic principles of lifting, whilst helping you to determine what your limits are and actually make sure that you are lifting heavy enough whilst keeping good form. If you feel that you aren’t lifting enough – then chances are you aren’t! There’s nothing more satisfying than pushing past your comfort zone!

2. Mind to muscle connection

Every time you lift you need to make sure that you are really connecting with the muscle you want to be working. It’s all too easy to lose focus when chatting with your workout buddy, or not thinking about what you’re doing and just going through the motions. Engaging and contracting the muscle as you work will bring about the results you are after, and more quickly!

3. Focus on the tempo of the exercise

Slowing down the speed of an exercise will not only recruit more muscle fibres (which ultimately burns more calories) but it will also give you the opportunity to find any flaws or weaknesses in a movement and really focus on the task at hand.

4. Focus on big compound exercises to help build your strength, plus accessory work to shape your body.

Big moves like Squats and Deadlifts are essential exercises and each workout should ideally start with a “big” effective exercise like this; combinations such as Squats to Press or a Lunge with a Twist will not only work your glutes, legs, arms and shoulders but also recruit your core, whist getting your heart rate up – giving you more bang for your buck! Most of my workouts are based around big moves like this – with extras like glute kick-backs or single leg hip thrusters to help lift and sculpt my booty…

…such as THIS!

5. Have a plan and keep a record of the weights you lift so you can keep track of your progress.

Walking into a gym without a plan of action is like walking into a supermarket without a shopping list! Buy yourself a pretty journal or scrapbook and jot down everything you do in the gym – there is nothing more motivating that seeing your progress in black and white!

 

So there we have it – the beauty of strength training and why I totally LOVE IT!

If you need any more advice on the subject please contact me and I will try my best to reply to you or cover your question in a new blog post or on my Instagram stories.

Or why not join me on my next 8-week Fitness Journey – or my next Ibiza FitRetreat in September, where I will guide you through fun workouts using – wait for it – weights in beautiful Ibiza surroundings. It’s a full on but fun and life-changing week! I hope to see you soon!

 

My awesome Ibiza FitRetreat Crew of Strong Women! (May 2017)

 

 

Why I lift weights – and why you should too! Part 1

Many people ask me what my top tips are for fat loss (especially for women) and one of my top ones has to be lifting weights! Now don’t be alarmed – it’s not as scary as it seems – let me explain further!

So…years ago (well 10 to be exact!), I was a Cardio queen! I trained cardio pretty much every day of the week…swimming, cycling, spinning, circuits, running – you name it. I was addicted to burning out. I also had issues with food and went through periods of restricting myself of calories, particularly good fats (the days when we were told that “fat makes us fat”!) I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror – and no amount of training was changing that!

 

Skinny V Strong

 

So when and why did I turn to lifting weights?

It all began in my early thirties when I started working out with a PT and got into using kettlebells and more strongman type equipment.

I always had real problems accepting my body and was never happy with it. With my background in cross-country and long distance running I was always pretty lean but I also had body dysmorphia issues, where I always saw something else in the mirror not the real reflection staring back at me – I was almost punishing my body with all the cardio!

Weights changed all that. Within a few months I saw the difference in my body and how cutting back on the cardio and lifting weights helped add some curves! Plus I loved the fact that I could get a really good workout in around 45 minutes and feel the buzz for hours after! It wasn’t quite the same with cardio!

 


Love to lift!

 

I now lift 3-4 times a week for around 45 minutes and go as heavy as I can. Am I worried about bulking up? Absolutely not! It’s very hard for women to bulk unless you’re eating a ton of calories and doing a lot of specific hypertrophy training (a method of strength training intended to induce the fastest muscle growth). We also don’t have the testosterone levels to build bulk, which is why I encourage women to simply use weights to help create curves in all the right places and most importantly to feel strong and empowered – there’s something really motivating about going into a gym and being able to lift heavy or to do a chin-up!

 

One of my favourite “heavy lifts”!

 

I truly believe that lifting weights has been the main catalyst for my change in mind-set, which is why I focus so much of the spare time on helping other women to learn how to love their own bodies via my online coaching. These days I wouldn’t dream of counting or restricting calories (unless I was to step on stage again!) – and I don’t need to because building muscle helps to speed up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss. Basically the more muscle a woman has, the more calories she will burn at rest.

On another note women tend to atrophy (lose muscle) as they age so it’s important to work with weights to prevent this from happening. This means we stay stronger as we age and can look after ourselves for longer – one of my main priorities as a mama!

 


My ‘Body Ibiza’ Squad!

 

Now that I’ve convinced you to pick up those dumbbells (hopefully!), here’s a little workout that you can do at home. All my workouts tend to take 45 minutes or less, and with 1440 minutes in a day hopefully you won’t have to break your neck to get it done – even if you try getting up half an hour earlier. There is always a way – and you’ll feel so much better for it I promise!

This workout took me just under an hour and was intense but lots of fun!

 

A1 Barbell wide squats, 12 reps

A2 Kettlebell romanian deadlifts, 20 reps

A3 On & Off step jump squats, 20 reps

4 sets, 10 seconds rest between each exercise, 60 seconds rest between each set

B1 BB step-ups, 12 reps e/leg

B2 KB single leg romanian deadlifts, 12 reps e/leg

3 sets, 20 seconds rest between each exercise, 60 seconds rest between each set

C1 Cable squat to row, 20 reps

C2 Arm/shoulder combo, 15 reps

C3 DB bent over rear delts, 15 reps

3 sets, 10 seconds rest between each exercise, 60 seconds rest between each set

 

You can also watch the video HERE.

If you’re not following me on Instagram…here I am @mirella_strongbeatsskinny…please check out my profile.

Each week I post workouts that you can follow and are easy to squeeze into your day. You can also apply for my next 8-week Ibiza journey HERE, which starts on the 19th June and will guide you through lifting weights sensibly and creating a lean and toned figure that is maintainable and totally bikini-worthy! Already on round two of the challenge, I have seen some fantastic results from women all over the world – are you in? Summer is just around the corner!

My Go-To Afternoon Snack

Do you ever find yourself raiding the kitchen come 3pm looking for something sweet and energising?

Yup you’re not alone but thankfully this Granola recipe comes to my rescue every time!

It’s packed with gluten-free oats and nuts and seeds for slow-release energy, and honey and cacao nibs to take the edge of my sweet tooth and keep me going until dinner – and especially through Atari’s crazy hours before bed. Why do they do that?

Atari loves helping mama in the kitchen!

 

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

I like to serve mine with kefir yoghurt and stewed apple, and always tend to eat it around 4pm. Eating little and often definitely fuels my energy better. I hate to feel too full with food, especially with all the running around I have to do each day, so eating until I’m around 90% full makes me feel more energised and comfortable. I also don’t eat until I feel hungry, which means I really enjoy my food – but obviously NEVER let myself get too hungry (hangry!) that I’m ravenous and then reaching for the whole jar of granola!

 

To make around 20 portions, you will need;

* 3 cups organic gluten-free oats

* 1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, almonds & cashews)

* 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

* 2 tbsp maple syrup

* 2 tbsp honey

* 4tbsp coconut oil (liquid)

* 1 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

* Pinch of Himalayan salt

* 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries & chopped apricots)

Granola before adding the dried fruit

Directions:

Heat an oven to 140 Celsius.

Mix all these ingredients together (except for any dried fruit because adding this too early and it will burn!) and put on a baking sheet.

Put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take out, give it a quick mix around and now add the dried fruit. Then put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. It just needs to be slightly toasty!

When done, take out and leave to cool.

Store in an airtight container.

 

Rough Macros per portion:

Calories 4000/203

Carbs: 475g/24g

Fats: 189g/ 9g

Protein: 90g/5g

Your kitchen will smell heavenly when you’re finished!

 

This recipe is certainly one of the favourites amongst myself and my clients BUT (sorry – always a but) it’s fairly calorific, so make sure you implement some portion control by either dividing it up into small portions once it’s baked – or locking it in a cupboard once you’ve had your first serving because you could easily indulge in the whole lot – it’s so damn tasty! I tend to have it as a little healthy treat rather than eating it everyday!

For more healthy meal and snack ideas check out Instagram or my Sweet Clean Eats eBook available on my website!

 

Out Of Action; How to stay on track when injured

In the last year an umbilical hernia operation and a smashed up big toe (yes I stubbed it on a speed bump in Thailand) has seen me out of action for a few weeks.

Does it drive me crazy not being able to exercise? Of course it does! I was hoping to explore some of the gyms in Thailand when I was there and do some Muay Thai but instead I had to keep my foot dry and live in flip-flops thanks to the sexy bandaging I had around it. I was also on pretty strong antibiotics and in quite a lot of pain. So what’s a girl (and guy) to do when injured?

Well, rather than sit on the sofa – (or sun lounger in my case!) feeling sorry for yourself, find ways to turn a negative into a positive. Here’s how…

Firstly don’t give up and self-sabotage!

It would be so easy to say sod it – I’m just going to take full advantage of the rest and eat what I want – but DON’T! It’s true what they say – abs are made in the kitchen and being out of action doesn’t mean you will have to lose them!

Focus on eating clean nutritious food (you can find some recipes to satisfy a sweet-tooth HERE and listen to your body. I tend to lose my “normal” appetite when I’m not training as much and actually crave things like fruits, salads and vegetables rather than carbs and protein. Although it becomes easier to eat more “junk foods” when you’re not feeling the buzz and “feel good” feeling from exercising!


I hate not being able to exercise so eating well is really important when I’m injured – it stops me from feeling like crap, gives me energy I’d otherwise find in a good workout and makes me feel better about burning less than I’m typically used too.

Use this time to also tune into your appetite and get an idea of what foods your body does and does not tolerate. Nutrition has always been key for me to stay on top of my health and body goals, workout – or no workout!

Stay Positive – and enjoy the rest.

Your body needs time to heal so take some time to relax and take a forced rest – we can all do with this from time to time! You will probably come out of the other side feeling stronger and refreshed, and it could even help you to break out of a plateau, especially if you haven’t been seeing results for a while!

Also know that your injury isn’t forever and if you eat smart and move as much as you can around the injury you won’t put on weight or lose focus! Enjoy the ‘R & R’ and before you know it you will be back on your feet and rearing to go!

Set new goals

Having a goal and a focusing on what you want once you start training again will help give you focus and get you excited for what’s to come once your back on your feet. Look for an event that excites you, or sign up for my next Body Ibiza 8 week Fitness Journey. Making a commitment will keep you motivated and keep you accountable.

Modify, Don’t Quit

Sitting around when injured was simply not an option for me – and it doesn’t have to be for you either! For instance when I hurt my toe I still managed to train my abs and glutes during the day when Atari was taking her afternoon nap, and as it started to feel better I made sure I did lots of walking (with my toe bandaged up to protect it) with Atari in the buggy. The Thai heat saw me really work up a sweat and I felt like I was staying really active. I also did lots of power-walking up and down the hills and always took the stairs to my hotel room!

Depending on the type of injury, there should always be a way of getting a workout in. Just make sure you check with your doctor or trainer – the last thing you’ll want is to delay your recovery time!

Don’t be scared of weight gain!

If you eat smart by making healthy choices and only eat when you’re hungry – you won’t put on body fat!

If you stay hydrated and don’t get into the habit of comfort eating (which can be all too easy if you’re unhappy and feeling crap about not working out) – you won’t put on body fat!

Use your down time to focus on hydration (Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger!), sleep (this will help to keep your cravings under control and help your body recover quicker), staying positive (think of those new goals) and eating intuitively (don’t restrict your eating so you end up with crazy cravings and reaching for the biscuit tin!) and you won’t put on body fat – I promise!

Lastly and most importantly – take each day at a time! Appreciate that you are on a journey and these things happen. Focus on the positives and always look at the bigger picture – before you know it you will be exercising again like you used too – and feeling super excited about it too!

 

 

 

 

My Day on A Plate

All good things must come to an end – i’ve had a fab time traveling but it’s time to knuckle down and get back on the ‘healthy eating wagon’ and do you know what? I’m actually excited about it!

After all the traveling i’ve done lately, I felt quite sluggish and soft but I’ve got a whole new motivation for training and eating well again and luckily I know that within a week or so of sticking to plan I’ll be back to where I feel at my happiest with my body composition. Thankfully I have 23 girls i’ll be joining on my new 8 Week Fitness Journey which starts this week so there really is no excuse!

 

So what do I eat on a normal day?

 

I usually get up at 6.30am and always start the day with a Nutristrength coconut & pink salt electrolyte blend with hot water & fresh lemon – it’s the perfect wake-up drink for hydration and digestion and helps massively with my energy levels.

I’ll then have some healthy pancakes with Atari, which are made with 1 egg, 2 egg whites, 60g oats and 1 small banana. I top them with peanut butter, coconut syrup and some raspberries, which gives me the ultimate combo of protein, slow-release carbs and fruit. They taste amazing and fill me up for the morning, whilst helping to tame my sweet-tooth!

Then it’s work for a couple of hours whilst sipping on a NutriStrength protein smoothie made with chocolate pea protein, coconut water, espresso and 1 medjool date. This gives me my caffeine hit (it tastes like salted caramel too!!) and gets me ready for my midday workout, which I try to do before I pick up Atari from nursery.

Post workout I’ll try and have my lunch al fresco with Atari, which is tuna with broccoli and avocado. I drizzle it with some garlic oil for an extra dose of good fats which help keep my afternoon cravings under control (plus some carbs if I have managed to get a workout in…usually quinoa , rice or potatoes) – I then either get on with some more work if Atari takes her usual afternoon nap or workout if I didn’t get chance to whilst Atari was at nursery. If she doesn’t sleep then it’s usually playtime in the garden, around the house or we head out to see friends.

I always try to make healthy choices to satisfy my sweet-tooth and one of my favourite afternoon snacks has to be my homemade buckwheat granola & oat milk. I make this using buckwheat, dates, figs, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil and also throw in some nuts. I always wash it down with a large glass of H2O to help me hit my 3 litres. I’ll have a new batch prepared this week as it never lasts long in my house, so keep an eye on my IG stories for the action in the kitchen!

 

I then end the day with some herb-seasoned chicken with a big green salad, tomatoes & avocado, which I will eat once Atrai goes to bed. If I need something after dinner, I will have a small bowl of porridge or a dark chocolate rice cake, and have some more water. I often sleep better with more carbs in the evening! I’ll then have a Clipper “sleepy tea” & 400mg magnesium glycinate, which helps me wind down before bed.

 

So, that’s me! I love to eat and I eat to fuel my lifestyle and my workouts and try to eat a wide range of foods which differ on a daily basis so I feel excited about food and not bored.

 

If you want to find a way of eating that works for you then get in touch or check out my Instagram page for food and fitness inspiration. You can also purchase my StrongbeatsSkinny Sweet Clean Eats eBook  which is full of ‘cleaner’ and ‘healthier’ treats, which won’t undo all your hardwork!

 

If you haven’t yet tried NutriStrength and want to give it a try, use this code for 15% off anything on their website MIRELLA15 😉