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!

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!

 

 

 

 

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.”

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)

Exercising whilst Pregnant – Is it Safe?



preggo

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

Blog 3

 

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!

 

How to start your Health & Fitness Journey successfully

Kitti blog


The New Year has been and gone, and for many people January will have marked the start of a new fitness journey. Around this time pretty much everyone is super-motivated to go to the gym and to work hard towards their new goals, whether it be to lose weight, gain muscle or generally just get fit!

Then…what happens? You’ve probably been there before. You set yourself a far-reaching or unrealistic goal and then look for quick fixes when it comes to training and nutrition to get there as fast as you can. You may start off by doing too much…6 weight-training workouts per week and cardio every day, whilst following a “faddy” diet. Racing like a rabbit towards headlights! This is most definitely not the best way, and sooner or later this approach is likely to lead to disappointment, with you throwing in the towel, before February rolls around. Hang on…we’re there already! You’ve probably noticed that your gym was so rammed in January, and will be like a ghost-town come March.

In this article, we are giving you 5 tips that will help you to start your healthy lifestyle the smart way. You may have already joined us in our free Fitness Challenge workouts. If not, we’re on to week 5 now so there’s still chance to catch up, and to win some awesome goodies (check out our Instagram accounts for details – mirella_strongbeatsskinny + kitti_strongbeatsskinny.

With the right knowledge, you can make your New Years resolutions and goals come true..

Educate yourself on training and nutrition
Make sure you do your research before you start any exercise and diet plan. Read about different training methods and find out what suits best for you, your lifestyle and your goals. It is important to remember that there is no perfect training plan and training on its own is not enough. You also need to compliment your effort in the gym with good nutrition. Fad diets and quick weight loss plans don’t work so don’t waste your time with these. If you have done some research but find it confusing, we’re not surprised…there is a lot out there. Search for information that come from reliable sources, methods which promise slow progress but sustainable results are often the best.

Goal setting and planning
Set realistic goals and give yourself enough time to achieve them. Change doesn’t happen overnight and by setting yourself some short-term goals will help to keep you motivated along the way. Taking little steps at a time will eventually lead you to success. The tortoise wins the race every time!

Slow and steady wins the race
Start by making small changes in your lifestyle rather than jumping straight into the deep ene. Making drastic changes that don’t fit in with your lifestyle can be overwhelming and you will only find stressful. Instead, aim to make small improvements week by week. For example, make small changes to your nutrition…start by drinking 2-3 litres of water every day. Then increase your vegetable intake by consuming some vegetables with each meal. By week 3, reduce simple sugars in your diet. Same with training, start slow and aim to workout 2-3 times a week rather than going to the gym every single day. Start with something you enjoy until you get those endorphins going.

Professional help
If you have no idea where to start and are confused by the sheer thought of point 1, then investing in professional help can be your saving grace. Not everyone has time to do all the research and planning themselves, and this can often be so overwhelming that you quit before you even get started. Investing in professional help and having a plan written for you and your goals saves time and takes the guesswork out of the journey. If you have never set foot in a gym, it is good to have someone who can guide you safely and effectively through your workouts.

Healthy living is a lifestyle
Being healthy and active needs to be a lifestyle choice in order for it to be most effective. It might not be easy at the start to give up “unhealthy” habits but it doesn’t have to be boring. Finding the balance, feeling fit and healthy, far outweighs waking up on a Monday morning not wanting to hit the gym or eat your greens because you feel so demotivated after your weekend of pizza-eating and sofa surfing. Make small changes to your lifestyle. Finding an activity you enjoy and experimenting with healthy recipes can be fun. Pizza is more rewarding when you have earned it, and there are so many ways to create delicious meals that not just taste good but also good for you.
The bonus of exercising regularly and eating well most of the time means you can enjoy the odd treat here and there. Life is about balance, everything in moderation. If you can find the balance that fits into your lifestyle and you feel great, well your are already halfway there!

Mirella blog

Smart Strategies for Life after Contest Prep

You did it! After months of dieting and training for the big day you finally got there, in the best shape of your life. All the hard work, the sacrifices you had to make, the tears, sleepless nights and hunger become a distant memory on the day of the show. Your glowing tan, beautiful hair and make up, and gorgeous bikini make you feel like a superstar. Your friends and family are very proud of you and everyone in the audience is inspired by you and admires your physique. The whole experience is just amazing and gives you such a high that stays with you for days after the show.

 

However, life does have to return to normal. Your tan will fade and your body will lose its peak shape. You may no longer have a goal to focus on and you suddenly feel a bit lost. It is also hard to accept that your body gets softer again. I know this feeling very well having competed twice before and thankfully I can say that I was able to handle the post-competition period both times very well and didn’t rebound as many other girls sadly do. It can sometimes take months post-show until you feel “normal” again and I hope these tips that I am sharing with you will help to ease the process.

 

  1. Adopt a healthy mindset

This is the number one tip that I can give to anyone who competes. Simply accepting the fact that being in “stage shape” all year round is not realistic. More importantly, it is not healthy to maintain such low body fat levels especially for females. Women are not meant to be shredded! We need a higher amount of bodyfat for optimum health, normal hormonal function and ovulation. 15%-20% is still considered lean and is ideal to maintain.

 

Focus on all the positives that come with the “off-season”…enjoy having more energy and being able to socialise with friends & family. You will sleep better, be able to lift heavy in the gym again, as well as enjoy a more relaxed diet, including a few treat meals here and there. Not only that but this is a great time to start making improvements to your physique. The next challenge…because its always great to have one 😉

 

 

  1. Post-show eating

This is the best part isn’t it? After months of dieting, restriction and feeling hungry, you finally get to enjoy some nice food without having to measure or think about calories, macros etc. Here is what I recommend…

 

Enjoy a nice meal with your family & friends after the show. Hell, the day after the competition you can also enjoy going a little wild! Just make sure you drink plenty of water as well. Your body is likely to hold onto water if you choose to eat highly processed, sodium-rich foods, foods most competitors have avoided for some time and thus choose to indulge in post-show. Drinking more water will help flush out excess water retention from the body. Avoid binging, instead eat until you feel satisfied and not overfull. Consuming an extreme amount of calories will put your body under more stress and will make you feel awful , especially if you are coming from a depleted and dehydrated state post-show.

 

By Monday or the second day after the show, it is a good time to return to healthy eating. You’ve probably had enough “junk” food by this time anyway. Eat a good variety of wholefoods and gradually increase calories week by week to ensure recovery and to help boost your metabolism and rebalance hormones. Limit treat meals to the weekend and stay active to avoid excessive fat gain.

 

 

  1. Post-show training

Make sure you get a good few days complete rest after the competition. Your body is under a lot of stress in the lead up to the show and it needs time to recover. You might feel ready to return to the gym after a few days but avoid pushing yourself too hard. This is not the time to make improvements but to recover, especially if you pushed yourself right up to the finish line. Your central nervous system needs a lot more time to do that than your muscles, so keep the intensity low for a few weeks and stick to bodyweight or light weight training, low intensity cardio and stretching or yoga. You will come back with renewed vigour and motivation to really kill it in the gym!

 

 

  1. Set new goals

Always have a goal in mind to work towards next. Whether it be another competition, making improvements, or increasing strength, you need something that keeps you motivated. Make sure you keep your long-term goals in mind, and focus on achieving the short-term goals that help you on the way. Have a plan of action of how you are going to achieve these goals. It also helps to have someone you can be accountable to. Perhaps a friend or a coach who you can send regular updates and progress photos to.

 

Most importantly, remember that fitness is a journey and not a destination. Embrace every little success along the way, learn to love your body and enjoy taking care of it; the results will automatically follow.

Smart Strategies for Life after the Stage Kitti Blog 2 Kitti Blog 3