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 😉

How to get fit without a gym

As you may know from my Instagram and Facebook page, it’s very rare that I go to a gym. As a busy working mama, most weeks it would be impossible to get there, as often I can only manage a spare hour to workout – and the return travel time to the gym would be just that!

Working out at home means I can nip out to my gym in between work or when Atari is napping  – it makes life so much easier and I’m more likely to do it!

 

 

Now do I miss the gym environment? You bet I do! I miss the buzz, I miss the social interaction – and having no distractions – there is always something to be done at home! So how do I motivate myself to get my workouts done – and how can you too?

Here are my Top Tips!

Kit yourself out

Firstly know that there are plenty of bodyweight exercises that can produce a fun and effective full body workout, like this one here. You honestly don’t need much kit! Resistance bands can provide enough resistance if you are on a budget – and they are also really easy to carry around which is great when travelling!

For home workouts it’s also worth investing in just a few pieces of kit that will help keep you motivated and challenged. Think kettlebells, a mat, some adjustable barbell and dumbbells, a gym ball and even a medicine ball. The whole lot will probably cost you around £200 – the equivalent to a few months of a gym membership. Not bad eh?

Start with a few pieces of kit and invest when you can – you don’t need it all at once!

 

 

Schedule it in

Life with a toddler, trying to manage and run my business, general mama & housewife duties…there is always a very, very long to-do list and there will always be something else that I could be doing when at home. But do you know what? Working out is my special “me time”! I eat better, I sleep better, I feel better and my mood is better when I train consistently, so at the start of every week I make a realistic commitment and schedule three workouts in – and these will be done no matter what! A home gym is always open – so if I don’t get time in the day – there are no excuses – where there’s a will, there’s a way!

However, how I feel post-workout is what really spurs me on to get my workouts done. I feel a massive sense of accomplishment and it keeps me buzzing for at least 24 hours! Even if I don’t feel like it, I know I will feel great afterwards! Capture that feeling and remember it!

 

 

Create a workout space

If you have a place to go, your workout will feel more official and you’ll be more likely to workout – it doesn’t have to be anything fancy! Mine is split between the veranda and the garage, plus I use the garden. I love being outdoors and admiring the view we have.

Once you have your space – Place your mat on the floor and neatly store your kit where it’s easy to get too and make sure you have access to some good music and a drink. Make the space yours – embrace it and look forward to visiting it and getting into the ‘zone’ when it’s time to workout!

 

 

Have a plan of action

There’s nothing that wastes time during a workout like figuring out what to do next. Without the motivation and pressures you’ll find in a gym it’s easy to just breeze through your workout – just go through the basics and not push yourself! We’re all guilty!

Make the most of your time and always make sure you have a plan. Know what exercises you are going to do, lay out your kit and be ready to go – this will help you to establish a routine and make the most of your time.

If you need more of a push – then think about an online coach or sign up to a challenge like my 8-week Body Ibiza Programme – The Body For You, which will provide you with some structure and accountability.

It starts on 17 April 2017, and my last batch of ladies got some Amazing Resultshere & here & HERE – gym or no gym!

I really hope that this post has inspired you to workout no matter where you are! If so, here is a 20-minute workout that you can do using some of the kit I have recommended. Enjoy!

 

“Everyday is a new opportunity to keep pushing the boundaries, making improvements and working towards a stronger self.”

Seconds on the lips, forever on the hips…tips for a fitter healthier Christmas!

One the hardest things about Christmas is the over indulgence of food!

The Baileys…

The mince pies…

The Trimmings…

This list could go on!

In fact, Christmas is near on impossible to avoid putting on a couple of extra pounds right?

It’s true that you can’t out-train a bad diet! But you can set some good habits in place to help combat the festivities and to stay a little fitter & healthier over the Christmas period.

Here are my Top 5 Tips on how to not lose sight of your goals by adopting the right mindset over the holidays:

  1. Try to maintain an 80/20 balance of healthy foods v Christmas treats. You don’t want to get to January and then have to spend the first 2 months of the year feeling rubbish and suffering whilst you try to get back into your favourite jeans. One of my top tips on how to do this would be to save any treats until later on in the day. If you start on the Baileys & mince pies for breakfast, it’s highly likely you will continue like this for the rest of the day. A lot of people talk themselves into the fact that they’ve already eaten this & that, they may as well carry on. Trouble is, a lot of people forget what they have actually eaten. We can call it “denial”! Try starting the day with a healthy nutritious breakfast, a well-balanced lunch, and look forward to enjoying some Christmas treats in the evening. If you have eaten well for most of the day, don’t use this is an excuse to binge though. It’s amazing how many calories you can over-consume when picking at higher calories foods and treats. Everything in moderation!
  2. Keep active! This is where “damage limitation” comes in. If you can hit the gym a few times a week over the holidays, then you will really earn your Christmas treats. Cardio, whilst better than nothing, will leave you in the “fat-burning zone” with a higher metabolic rate of approx 2-3 hours post-workout. Great to do first thing thing in the morning and what I have been doing most days over the holidays leading up to Christmas. If you can squeeze in a really productive lifting session, or even a high intensity workout at home, then this will leave your body more of a fat-burning furness for the next 24-48 hours! Any form of exercise will leave you feeling great, boosting your mood, mindset and eating habits for the rest of the day. If you want some bodyweight workouts to do at home over the holidays, head over to my Instagram to view my weekly workouts.
  3. Mindset is the biggest thing that you can really focus your energies on over the Christmas holidays. If everyone around you has their head buried in the Roses tin and is on an eating mission because it’s Christmas, then this is more than likely going to influence you to do the same. It is very hard not to join in with everyone else and convince yourself it’s okay because hey…everyone else is eating and drinking that! Remember, Christmas is not all about the food! Although it becomes an easy excuse. Think about it…are you going to be happy with yourself once all the festivities are over and you no longer feel comfortable in your clothes? Probably not. Don’t use Christmas as an excuse for gluttony. The more seconds of naughty pleasure on the lips, it will be tougher than ever to get off the hips post-Christmas!
  4. Stay hydrated! Too much booze and not drinking enough water…two of the things most likely to occur over the Christmas period for a lot of people. When your body is dehydrated, you are more likely to feel sluggish, tired and irritable. And then the last thing you will feel like doing is working out. Plus, booze and the aftermath often make us crave lots of fatty, salty & sugary foods. It is the Party Season so by all means enjoy yourself but remember to drink plenty of water, and if you do enjoy some mulled wine, Baileys & the odd G&T, just remember to drink a glass of water before and after each alcoholic drink. This will help minimise any impact and hangover!
  5. Avoid too many late nights – late nights and lack of sleep are a common cause of us wanting to eat all the wrong foods! Just like booze, it can affect our energy levels and you will want to eat things that give a false sense of comfort and spike in energy. Not only that but you will not have the energy or motivation to workout!

You may or may not know that I have an 8 week fitness challenge starting in January. If you want my help to shake off the Christmas indulgence and to get in to the best shape of your life, join us!

And I will be flying the winner out to Ibiza to spend the day training with me! 🙂

 

Making a comeback…from baby to #8 in the World Pro Fitness Model in 1 year!

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So I’m going to go right in there and be blatantly honest with you, I have felt in a sort of “black hole” for the last few months since I stepped off stage this summer. It’s only now I can look back on my journey this year and appreciate how freaking hard it was. Not just hard, it was intense!

To recap, after competing in 2014 and placing 2nd in the World in the WBFF World Championships, I fell pregnant. My desire to become a mummy had been growing for a long time and I had the choice to either continue with my competing career or recognise that I wasn’t a spring chicken anymore. At 34 years old, I wanted to start a family. I didn’t want to leave it much longer. In July 2015, I achieved the greatest goal of all, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl Atari Maya. It was never in my mind that I would be stepping on the World stage again a year later.

Just 6 months after giving birth, I knew I had to have a new goal for myself. Becoming a mother is the most amazing gift but it’s also an extremely overwhelming time. It’s all too easy to lose sight of who you are, your identity and to give up on things for yourself because society (and old lingering traditions) make us feel like we must now put our children and family first, our needs last.  I’ve spoken to many of my mummy friends and for some reason there is this all-consuming guilt when we want to do anything for ourselves. Then there is the time aspect, and a huge lack of it! There is never enough time for yourself anymore once you become a parent. “Me time” ha what is that? I was determined to prove that it doesn’t have to be this way.

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For me, having this fitness goal, this ultimate physique goal, taking my passion for health & fitness to a higher level, was an extremely important commitment I wanted, and needed, to make with myself. I wanted to get back into my training and I wanted a good enough excuse for doing so. My love for it wasn’t going to be enough now I was a mummy and had this little person to prioritise. I had to have an excuse to prioritise time for myself too. And why not? I could still be “me” and a good mummy. I could continue to chase my dreams, which would in turn help to inspire this little person who will be looking up to me.

It had been 2 years since I’d stepped on stage and I tell you, the pressure was great! But I had to get myself in the right mindset. I placed the bar so high in 2014, this year wasn’t about placing higher, it was about competing with myself. I was a mummy now and if I completed this challenge, I had already won. After all, competing is about the journey, not the trophy, and it can shape you in so many ways as a person, you just need to embrace it in the right way. As I said before, it is important to go into a journey like this with the right mindset. The dedication and commitment is either within you or it isn’t. You have to want it bad enough. I thrive on pressure and having a challenge, the bigger the better, I wanted this badly, even if it broke me, and this time it almost did break me.

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I was having to work my butt off each day of my prep. I’d be up at the crack of dawn with Atari. She would need her milk, breakfast, changing, teeth-brushing, all before the nanny arrived. I needed to put as much time into my online business and was also seeing 121 clients also…a nanny doesn’t come cheap and neither do competitions! Then I would have to find the time for myself during my day to train. I was training 5 times a week but some of my lower body sessions would take me 2 hours. I’d have the nanny until mid-afternoon, then it would me “mommy-daughter” time. I’d take Atari swimming, we’d play in the garden, go to the beach or meet friends. Quite often I didn’t feel very social. Prep takes a lot out of you…the dieting, training and overall tiredness, all impacts the way you feel, both mentally and physically. I made a conscious effort for this not to impact on Atari in any way at all, and funnily enough, I always found the energy to give to her. She was what kept me going most days.

Some days I would have been quite happy to just lie down in a dark room and be with myself, but yeah that didn’t happen! I look back now and I think I must have just been on auto-pilot, going through the motions and trying keep my eyes on the goal, whilst doing my best to manage the chaos around me. My evenings would be taken up with never-ending food prep. Cooking dinner for my husband, my daughter, all whilst trying to cook, weigh, count & track all my food for the next day. Then catching up with emails and online clients before falling into bed always later than I had planned. My days were quite simply relentless.

Anyway, you get the gist. Back to the now.

Finally, I feel I am out of this “black hole” I have been somewhat at the bottom of over dan-galicthe past few months. After the competition was over, I no longer had a focus. I’d lost my mojo with my diet and training, and didn’t at all feel my usually happy, productive motivated self . However, these feelings weren’t new for me. This was my 4th time on stage and I’ve been here before. I had to ride out this storm and I knew I’d eventually come out the other side a stronger person. Here I am 🙂 And thanks to a good friend who gave me a good talking to whilst I was in the UK the other week, I am well and truly back and ready to tackle some new challenges!

Competing is a big part of who I am. It’s not about jumping on stage, but more the emotional rollercoaster that it takes to get there. There is something very powerful about hitting the gym and staying on track when everything in your body says stop. A very small minority of people can actually do it, especially whilst managing everything else in life at the same time.

blog-6If there is one thing that I get a kick out of though, it’s challenging myself. Setting my sights on a goal in order to take my strengths to the next level. Once I have that goal, I’m not one to back down. I don’t like failure. The sense of achievement I know I will feel once it is over is what keeps me motivated. A lot of people fail before they’ve even started because they put barriers up.

I’m hitting the gym 4 times a week now. Not as much as I’d like but it’s a realistic goal for myself with everything i’m currently juggling. Most days my workouts will only be 30 minutes but they make me feel great! We can all find a spare 30 minutes for ourselves a few days a week, right?

If you’re not yet following me on Instagram, please check out my profile @mirella_strongbeatsskinny. Each week I am posting bodyweight workouts you can do at home, or anywhere, with no equipment. Or you can throw in some weights if you wish to advance the workouts. These will take you 20-30 minutes. Easy to squeeze into your day, even if it means getting out of bed half an hour earlier.

I am also very excited to be launching an 8 week fitness challenge, where I will fly one lucky winner out to Ibiza to come and train with me for a day and show off your new curves on a sunny beach…just sign up at www.mirellafitness.com/challenge and join my IBIZA BODY CHALLENGE kicking off January 2017.

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I hope my daughter reads this article in years to come and feels the same inner strength, drive and determination to be the best version of herself too.

I found this quote today that really resonated with me. I hope it does with you too x

“Every woman has infinite potential to achieve anything she wants. She just needs to stop underestimating herself and discover her true inner strength. She will find within her an unlimited capacity to achieve” (Aarti Khurana)

The BEST protein smoothie EVER!

If ever there was an amazing protein smoothie, well this is it! One of my personal faves 🙂

I’m very conscious of what I put into my body, even more so nowadays being a new mommy and helping to encourage my little girl to make healthy food choices. NutriStrength is my top choice when it comes to protein powders to help fuel my daily intake of protein. Whilst i’m not one for replacing good wholesome “real” foods with liquid meals, I do have a sweet tooth and so making “sweet things” with NutriStrength protein powder really helps hit the spot when I need to satisfy my cravings.

NutriStrength are producers of clean lifestyle nutrition and pride themselves on quality products. If you want to give them a try, check out their website www.nutristrength.com and enjoy 15% off using my code MIRELLA15.

Here’s my recipe for THE BEST PROTEIN SMOOTHIE EVER (I think it tastes like chocolate salted caramel):

 

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 scoop NutriStrength pea protein roasted cocoa flavour

2 scoop NutriStrength Coconut & Pink Salt Electrolyte Blend

400ml Oatly Oat milk

1 banana

2 medjool dates

2 Nespresso vanilla espresso

Handful of ice

 

Method:

Throw everything into a good blender (Vitamix is by far the best!) and blend until smooth. Enjoy! 🙂

 

NutriStrength protein

Exercising whilst Pregnant – Is it Safe?



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Exercising whilst pregnant…yes it is safe, and yes it will help you on so many levels during, as well as post, pregnancy.

 

The reasons for doing so are not just about keeping your body “in shape”, that’s not really the focus. But of course, if you feel better about your body, it will help you to embrace the changes and enjoy the journey more than you would if you, let’s say, let yourself go!

 

Having spoken with many women who have had babies, this appears to be something that is all too common in pregnancy, as let’s face it, it’s the best excuse to sit around, put your feet up, and eat cake. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, now and again, but focus for rest should be on nurturing and eating a whole pack of biscuits every day isn’t exactly looking after your body. I know some women who have found it extremely hard post-baby when the 4 stone they gained during pregnancy doesn’t fall off like they expected it to.

 

Pregnancy is a time to nourish and to take care of your body more than ever before. It’s going to be the most extraordinary journey you have ever been on, so helping yourself to enjoy it by taking care of your general well-being, will also help your moods, eating habits, sleep and positive outlook. What I feel is most valuable about exercising during pregnancy is the mental and emotional strength you will gain.

 

Sadly, many women are frightened of exercising when pregnant, often because of “scare stories” and a lack of information available for pregnant women. Unfortunately, there is more confusion than anything else. I’m here to tell you that there are many benefits to exercising whilst pregnant.

 

Keeping moderatively active can help to decrease any pain or discomfort that you may experience from the structural changes affecting your body. I suffered various niggles throughout my pregnancy, from sciatica to backache, and found that keeping active and gently stretching really helped to keep these niggles at bay. Feeling fit and strong throughout your pregnancy can help you to better embrace the journey, as well go through labour, and after your baby is born.

 

Adapting to life with your baby can be hard at times, particularly finding time for yourself as a new mum, let alone finding time to workout. Plus you will no doubt want to spend all your time with your new baby like I did. I’m pleased I continued to workout throughout my pregnancy as despite having to work on a lot of core rehab post-baby, I feel my body bounced back a lot quicker because I looked after myself whilst pregnant.

 

If you weren’t previously active prior to pregnancy, I personally do not think now is the time for you to start throwing any heavy weights around. But there’s plenty you can do. You can focus on bodyweight, use resistance bands & cables, and even some lighter weight dumbbells. Always consult with your healthcare professional if you are not sure.

 

Regular walking or swimming is also great and will make you feel good. With walking, as with any exercise whilst pregnant, make sure you take note of your posture and alignment of your body and pelvis. With so much more load to carry around, it can be easy to fall into bad postural habits, which can lead to discomfort and injury.

 

As your pregnancy progresses, you may find walking difficult, so this is when swimming can be an easier option. You may also want to decrease the intensity and reduce the load from any weights you may be using, particularly lower body exercises. There will be enough pressure in your pelvis and pelvic floor as your bump gets bigger!

 

Take time to stretch and relax. Some good stretches include:

  • Hamstring stretch with a band (lying on the floor and wrapping the band around your foot, keeping your leg straight and gently pulling it towards your body).
  • Standing quadriceps stretch (hold onto something for support, pull your heel to your bum and push your hips forwards).
  • Kneeling upper body swiss ball stretch for chest/shoulders and back (kneeling on floor with knees quite wide, arms outstretched over a swiss ball. Roll it away from you for more of a stretch.
  • Standing calves stretch off a step (hold onto something for support. Drop heels off the edge of the steps, feeling the stretch in your calves. You can do this one leg at a time or both)

 

You may have heard of Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation). It is nothing to be worried about and it happens to most women at some point during their pregnancy. But it is something to be aware of, especially post-pregnancy.

 

Where I mention this in the workouts below (DR), be conscious of creating any intra-abdominal pressure and pushing your stomach out whilst exercising, as well as with daily activities. It is important to maintain a strong core but it is not necessary to work on your abs. Also, for anything on a bench i.e. incline DB press, you will want to “log roll” onto and off the bench before picking up the weights so you are not leaning back or getting up using your abdominals (pushing your tummy out) to do so. Same goes for getting in and out of bed, and up and down from a chair.

 

Your core and DR is something you will want to keep an eye on throughout your pregnancy and any exercises you do simply by placing a hand on your tummy whilst you work out and feeling for any gap in your abs.
Here a few examples of workouts for each trimester.

 

1st & 2nd Trimester:

 

UPPER BODY

 

A1 BB standing shoulder press, 12-15 reps

A2 Resistance band seated row,12-15 reps (DR)

3 sets

 

B1 Lying DB twist chest press, 12 reps

B2 Cable straight arm pulldown (DR), 12 reps

B3 DB semi-supinated grip biceps curls, 15 reps

3 sets

 

B1 Standing face pull, 15 reps (DR)

B2 Triceps dips, 15 reps

B3 DB/Plates bent over rear delts, 15 reps

3 sets

 

LOWER BODY

 

A1 DB backwards lunges, 15-20 reps e/leg

A2 Standing cable glute kick-back (or use ankle weights), 15-20 reps e/leg

A3 Side lying abductors (ankle weights), 20 reps e/leg

3-4 sets

 

B1 DB step ups, 15-20 reps e/leg

B2 DB Walking lunges, 30 reps alternate legs

B3 DB single leg standing calve raises, 20 reps e/leg

B4 Shoulders-elevated glute bridge, 30 reps

3-4 sets

 

CORE (1ST trimester)

 

A1 Plank, 30-40 seconds

A2 Side plank, 20-30 seconds each side

A3 Swiss ball knee tucks, 10-15 reps

2-3 sets

 

CORE (2nd trimester)

 

A1: Cable or band standing Pallof press, 15 e/side

A2: Slow mountain climbers, 20 alternate legs

A3: Rack farmers carry, 20-30 seconds each side

2-3 sets

 

 

3rd Trimester

 

FULL BODY:

 

A1 Curtsey lunge into wide squat, 15 reps each leg

A2 Squat position cable row (DR), 15-20 reps

A3 Shoulders-elevated glute bridge, 30 reps

A4 DB seated lateral raise (SS grip), 15-20 reps

A5 Cardio interval 3 mins (optional)

3 sets

 

B! KB deadlift, 20 reps

B1 KB swing (DR), 20 reps

B3 BW squats, 20 reps

3 sets

 

CORE (3rd trimester)

 

A1 Cable or band kneeling pallof press, 15 each side

A2 Cable straight-arm pulldown with knee raise, 20 alternate sides

A3 Carry bag farmers walk, 20-30 seconds each side

 

The goal from working out whilst pregnant is so you can have a healthy, active pregnancy and enjoy moving your body as it grows your beautiful baby. If you’re pregnant and have any questions about how to have a fit & healthy pregnancy, contact me at mirella@strongbeatsskinny.com, or download my Yummy Mummy Guide to Pregnancy here.

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Setting goals

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Since the last time I stepped on stage in 2014, I always knew it wouldn’t be my last time. Setting challenges and goals for myself has always been something I thrive on to keep me moving forwards.

 

From a young age, I always struggled with confidence and self-esteem. It’s still not something I’ve conquered but after 35 years (almost 36!) of working on me, I’m a lot happier within myself as a person. I’m proud of my life, my achievements and what I’ve become. A lot of that hasn’t come easy and I’ve certainly had many pitfalls along the way.

 

Throwing myself out there and driving myself towards the things that scare me the most are what I have found the hardest but also the most rewarding. It’s normal for us as human beings to run away from what we fear isn’t it. But without those fears, would those things we want really be worth pursuing?

 

So with my new goal set and 6 months to prepare myself for stepping on the WBFF World stage once again, I thought it would be quite fitting to write my thoughts on setting goals.

 

I’ve talked about why I like to set goals for myself. But why should you? And how? Well, there are quite honesty lots of rhymes and reasons…

 

Motivation – having something solid and set in stone to sink your teeth into can really help drive that fire within you to succeed and keep going even when the going gets tough. Self-motivation is what will drive you there in the end.

 

To have something to work towards – it’s exciting! It’s like a holiday to look forward to. As I said above, something solid and set gives you a destination for your journey and you’re less likely to get lost or sidetracked along the way

 

Focus – to remain on that path to your destination you need to keep your focus on what you want to achieve. Just having a focus can be really motivating. Keep your eyes on the prize! And one really important thing, never compare your journey or achievements to anyone else’s.

 

Turn your vision into reality – it’s easy to keep dreaming about what you want out of life but harder to take the bull by the horns to take the steps needed to make it reality. Life is too short to just dream your dreams.

 

Where do you want to go in life – don’t brush these thoughts under the carpet. Keep your mind focused on what you want. Haven’t you ever heard of laws of attraction?

 

Concentrate your efforts – so many people get halfway to where they want to go and then give up because its too hard or takes longer than they hope. Keep your concentration and don’t give up. Don’t waste your efforts or waste your time. It will only become a regret.

 

Avoid distractions – surround yourself with those who believe in you and your journey. Anyone who doesn’t support what you’re trying to do could try to sabotage your efforts. Sadly I’ve had many clients report this to me. It takes strong will to keep on track. Try not to put yourself in situations where you are weak if you know it will cause you to fail.

 

Organise your time and resources – fail to prepare, prepare to fail! It’s a time-old motto but makes a lot of sense. Make sure you have food in the fridge and food prepared for those times when you know you’re going to be in a rush. Plan ahead. Don’t skip meals because this will just leave you craving all those foods that are not only tasty but not so good for you. Keep some healthy snacks such as protein powder or a healthy snack bar in your bag, just in case! Plan your workout schedule and your time accordingly. Stick to those times like you would an important work meeting.

 

Take pride in your achievements – enjoy your journey and recognize that you’re working towards something. Every step, no matter how big or small, is something to be proud of. Each achievement is a step closer to your bigger goals.

 

Boost self-confidence – achieving something you’re proud of and can look back on with pride is hugely rewarding.

 

Recognise your ability – believe, achieve, succeed!

 

Embark on a journey with a destination – there’s no point in embarking on something if you have no idea where you’re going or even if you’re going to get there. Focus on that destination and enjoy your journey.

 

You may have an “end goal” in mind when you look at the bigger picture. But in order to get to that end goal, you will need to take many smaller steps along the way to get there. You can at least break it down into smaller goals. Making a plan of all of these milestones, tracking your progress and keeping a note of all your achievements can be extremely encouraging, inspiring and motivating.

 

For me, there is always a big goal, but never an end goal. Why? Because no matter what improvements I make to my health and fitness, things change and life changes. Reviewing your progress and what comes next means these milestones are ever-evolving. Its true to say…strive for improvements, not perfection. If you can live by this motto, then your achievements in life become ever more exciting!

 

How do you know what goals to set yourself, or even how to get there? Well, the best thing I can advise is this…talk to people. Whatever it is you’re interested in…weight loss, muscle gain, building strength, stepping on stage in a bikini or fitness contest…go talk to people who have been there and done it. Make a ‘to do’ list. Read books. Write down the smaller goals, your milestones. Make them performance, not outcome goals. Prioritise your life and what you need to do/change. If you think tomorrow is the best time to start, why not make tomorrow today? Stay positive. Be realistic. As I said, it’s easier to put off what you fear the most. Don’t be afraid of failure, be prepared for it. Any attempt at getting what you want is never a failure and should be seen as an achievement. Quite often what you learn on the journey is more valuable then that end goal! After all, what you become in the process is usually the thing to be most proud of.

 

One piece of advice I continuously give my clients is not to focus on just the finish line, as this often can cause frustration. Take each day at a time, appreciate you are on a journey and the goalposts will always change. Focus on being a better person and developing your own self…love yourself for who you are and always look at the bigger picture!