Kayla’s Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide

Now I’ve never believed in the term ‘bikini body’ or ‘bikini body ready’ – for me, a bikini body is any body in a bikini, simples. I’ve also never really trusted these fitness influencers or Instagrammers as I’m very wary of some of the products and diets that they endorse, so when it comes to Kayla Itsines I’ve generally not paid much attention.

However, I saw this book in the supermarket the other week; Matthew pointed it out as we’re trying to keep healthy and active in preparation for our trip to Hawaii in April, and at first I kinda scoffed, but then I had a little flick through and noticed that despite the title suggesting otherwise, at least half of the book is recipes, and I’m a sucker for a good recipe book, so it ended up in our basket.

Spoiler alert, I’m now treating this book like my bible.

The book is actually so insightful. The first part talks about habits and motivation, and some of the psychology that goes behind it, and how you can combat the set-backs and hurdles that many of us face day in day out. I must admit that I haven’t read all of this as I’ve got a lot of other books and journals that I use for habit tracking, so I didn’t feel this was particularly relevant to me, but after this bit, the book gets really good.

The next section of the book is all about nutrition and meal-planning. I went into this with a pinch of salt ready to read things suggesting certain foods are really bad for you, or you should cut down on this or that, but there wasn’t any of that and I did a little happy dance. Everything written is informative, well researched and completely balanced, and the nutrition part covers everything from your basic food groups to micronutrients to non-dairy, vegetarianism and veganism, so it covers a pretty good range of dietary needs, but what I love the most about this book is the meal planning.

Now the book itself has a 4 week food plan, including 3 meals and 2 snacks every day over the 28 day period, so if you like to follow something by the letter, this is absolutely great – it even includes your weekly shopping list! However, if like me you struggle to stick to an exact plan day in day out, Kayla also includes an example meal plan, that is a guide of how many portions of what food groups you should be eating each day, and how you can mix and match these to suit. Did I mention how much I love this?

Also included is a big glossary of example foods for every food groups, and portion sizes, so if for example your meal is going to be 2 grains, 2 veg, 1/2 dairy/alternative and 1 meat/alternative, you can simply flick to the back of the book, have a look at what these could includes and make up a meal from there. This makes everything so flexible and easy, and there’s absolutely no calorie counting, or cutting out certain foods – its all about getting the portions and proportions right. Its a meal plan, not a diet.

The recipes offer so many options, and not only have you got every recipe for the 28 day meal plan, there’s also extra recipes that you can substitute in if whatever’s on the menu doesn’t take your fancy! All the recipes are quick, easy, and based on a single portion, which is great because I hate having a recipe designed for 2 or 4 people and having to go through and scale all the ingredients down. Oh, and there’s also a section at the back for desserts!

I have been following the meal plan, in my own way, for two weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference (along side my regular gym workouts and running). Some meals I haven’t changed at all from what I was eating before, but I’ve just got a better balance in what I should be eating and the size portions I should be having. Its so easy to break down every meal into groups, so all I count is the number of portions of each group I’ve had – absolutely no stressing over calories or not eating this or that. Most importantly, I feel so good within myself because I’m eating well.

The final section of the book is workouts, and you get a little 28 day workout guide poster that you can follow along with your meal plan – again, given that I go to the gym 4-5 times a week as it is and know my stuff quite well, I wasn’t so bothered by this, but it is a good little plan.

So while the title of the book didn’t endear me to it in any way, I guess its just proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover!

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Cauliflower Crusted Chicken Nuggets

Do you ever have a real craving for something, decide to make it there and then, and then go to the kitchen and find your missing a vital ingredient? Well that was me last week. I have a homemade chicken nugget recipe that I’ve been using for years, and it was all I wanted to have for dinner.. Until I discovered I hate no breadcrumbs. Gutted.

I mooched over to the fridge to find alternative food options, and was greeted by the tub of cauliflower rice. Lightbulb. Twenty minutes later: happy Lottie with chicken nuggets.

Make them now, thank me later!

You’re gonna need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cauliflower rice (I used the pre-made stuff you can get from most supermarkets now, but you can just blitz up your own in a food processer!)
  • 1 tbsp fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Melted butter or a beaten egg yolk

Preheat your oven to 200C and cover a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the cauliflower, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper, and set to one side. Chop up your chicken breast into small nugget sized pieces, roughly 1 inch cubes!

If you’re using butter, now is the time to melt that, or beat up your egg yolk, then one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the butter/yolk, allow any excess to run off, then roll around in the cauliflower mixture.

Place each piece on the baking tray, leaving a little room between each nugget, and repeat until all of the chicken is covered. If you have any excess mix, you can use this to cover up any patches on any of the nuggets!

Bake in the oven for 12-15 mins, and be sure to check that the chicken is cooked through and juices are running clear.

Et voila – golden nuggets in less than 20 mins! Enjoy!

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Healthy Foods that I Hate

I wouldn’t classify myself as a bona fide fitness blogger, given that I dabble in a lot of different areas and often those other areas involve a lot of sugar, but I do often write about fitness, and a big part of my life is dedicated to my ongoing health and fitness journey.

Healthy eating has diversified a lot over the last few years. Its passed the point of a basic salad when you’re looking for a low-cal option, and a particular few food items have taken the world by storm as the latest and greatest in healthy ingredients. I, however, am starting to feel like a pretty poor excuse for a fitness enthusiast as there are a handful of these items that I cannot stand..

Avocado

Probably the biggest food crazy in recent years, people have been going nuts for these green machines. Yes, they’re packed with all those good fats, but I can’t stand them and the more I see them appearing in food and the more I see people refer to them as ‘avos’, the more I want to smash them – and that’s not the put them on toast.

Coconut milk/water

I’m not a huge coconut person, but I have drank from a real, fresh coconut on holiday before and that was delicious. These new coconut water products, however, don’t taste anything like that in my opinion, and the milk isn’t much better. If I want a coconut flavoured liquid, I think I’ll stick to Malibu.

Almond butter

What is wrong with peanuts guys?? I like to occasionally snack on real almonds, but I can never have too many, and I can’t bear the thought of them smushed down and spread on anything because I just think its too much like marzipan and YUCK.

Salmon

I’m not much of a fishy person, but I cannot stand salmon, especially smoked salmon. I’ve tried it a few times but the texture and the taste are just wrong in every way for me and I’d much rather stick to fish fingers to get my omega-3.

Beetroot

If I see another cake/brownie/dessert recipe using beetroot, I’m gonna go purple. I just don’t get what is gained from sticking a slimy vegetable into a pudding..

Are there any food crazes that you’re not on board with? I’d love to know if anyone shares my opinions!

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8 Quick, Easy and Healthy Breakfasts

PureChimp Matcha Green Tea Recipe

Think you’ve not got time for a healthy breakfast each morning? Think again! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right with these yummy ideas!

WARNING: This post contains no avocados or smoked salmon

1. Banana pancakes < 10 mins

  • Mash a banana, and whisk in two eggs. Pour the mix into a frying pan, and cook on both sides until golden brown. Ta-dah! You can even get fancy and add cocoa powder, or protein powder, or blueberries, or whatever you fancy!

2. Fluffy cloud eggs <15 mins

  • Preheat the oven to 220C. Separate two eggs, whisk the eggs whites until soft peaks form, then carefully stir in 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese. On a lined baking tray, make two little piles of the egg white mix, leaving a little dimple in the middle, and bake for 4 mins. Take the whites out of the oven, and carefully tip the individual yolks into the centre of the mounds, and bake for another 2 mins. Voila!

3. Peach and raspberry yogurt drink < 10 mins

  • Blend together two chopped up peaches, a cup of raspberries and half a cup of natural or vanilla yogurt. Enjoy!

4. Ham and egg cups < 15 mins

  • Preheat the oven to 190C. Spray a cupcake or muffin tin with cooking oil spray, and line the holes with parma ham – one piece should do one hole! Crack and egg into the hole and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top, then bake for 12 mins. Job done! These are great to prep in advance, then you can store them in the fridge and microwave for 40 seconds to reheat!

5. Poached egg and smashed peas < 15 mins

  • Start some frozen peas boiling in a small saucepan. Get water simmering in a medium saucepan, add a splash of vinegar and poach your egg – whether you do it in the traditional method or using a poachie/poach pod! While the egg is cooking, drain the peas, and using a stick blender, mash up the peas with a chopped spring onion – I like to leave mine a little chunky! Fish your poached egg out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and dry with a paper towel, then serve on top of the pile of peas! Yum!

6. Banana nut protein smoothie < 5 mins

  • Blend a banana with a cup of hazelnut milk and a handful of walnuts. Add some vanilla protein powder and blend again. Slurp!

7. Golden bananas and Greek yogurt < 10 mins

  • Whisk together a tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of water. Slice up a banana, arrange the pieces on some tin foil and brush with the honey mix, then place under the grill until golden and slightly caramelised. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon or cocoa powder. Om nom nom!

8. Asparagus and egg fry up < 15 mins

  • Melt butter or coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add 3-4 aspargus stems, ensure they’re nicely covered in the butter/oil, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Once done, crack an egg over the asparagus and fry for 3-4 mins. Happy eating!

No time for breakfast? No excuses!

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Homemade Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Who doesn’t love a hash brown? As a child, it was all I’d ever eat from a McDonalds breakfast and I’d probably polish off 4 or 5 of them while my family chowed down on McMuffins.

What I don’t eat a lot of these days is regular potatoes, so when I had the brainwave that there must be a way of producing a healthier version of a fast food favourite, I couldn’t wait to give it a try! If you’re not so certain, how’s this:

5 hash browns = roughly 250 calories

Sweet potato hash browns

Better yet, they’re super easy to make! I used 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, which produced 5 good sized hash browns, but you can use as many or few as you like as its all done on proportions.

Sweet potato hash browns

Sweet potato hash browns

  • Take half of your SPs and chop them into chunks, then boil for 10 mins or until soft
  • While the chunks are boiling, grate the other half into a large bowl
  • Once soft, drain the chunks, add a tbsp of butter/margarine/whatever spread you like and mash until smooth
  • Add the mashed potato to the bowl of grated SP and using a fork, mix to combine, ensuring all the grated stuff is stuck together

Sweet potato hash browns

  • In a frying pan, heat coconut oil (you can use other oil if you like!) until its hot enough that it hisses a little
  • Using a spoon or your hands, take a lump of the potato mix and squash into a pattie, then drop into the oil
  • Fry for about 2 minutes on each size, or until golden brown – you can use more oil if you’d prefer a deep fried effect, or less if you don’t, but you’ll probably need to re-oil the pan between each batch.

Sweet potato hash browns

Ta-dah! I love serving them on a bed of spinach with a poached egg for a fancy-ish brunch, but how you eat them is entirely up to you!

You can also batch prepare these to freeze, then reheat under a grill or in the oven for about 10 mins!

Hello not-so-guilty pleasure!

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#YearOfFit – Let’s Talk Fad Diets

This post is probably the one I’ve been most looking forward to writing so far this year. I’ve done a bunch of research and interviewed people and everything, and the reason I’ve put in so much work is because this is something I feel so passionately about.

Now before I get into things, I’m just going to say that while I’m not an expert/dietician/nutritionist, I’ve studied a lot of the areas that are involved in this topic: food science, diet psychology and human biology, so I’m not just sharing opinions here. I’m also going to be using my own terminology, so let me just explain that.

Fad, of course, just means something that’s popular for whatever reason, but I’m going to be discussing the main two different types of diet that people do: restrictive diets and lifestyle change diets. Restrictive diets are just that – purposefully cutting out or restricting the intake of a certain food type or group; think Atkins, Slimfast, juicing, fasting 5:2 etc. Lifestyle change diets are the ones where you aren’t necessarily cutting anything out, you’re just looking at your diet more carefully, maybe working on a point system for foods etc. These are your classic Weightwatchers or Slimming World style.

Ok, so I’m gonna start with restrictive diets.

You’ve seen your favourite celebrity drop from a size 14 to 6 in the blink of an eye and they’re putting it all down to this new diet. Naturally, you’re intruiged, and with summer just around the corner and the thought of your bikini looming, you figure why not give it a go, right?

All of these diets offer quick results – big weight drop in a short amount of time. Now this seems great, and short-term, sure, they’ll do the job, but I’m gonna let you in on a not-so-little secret: as soon as you go back to your regular habits, all of that weight is gonna come speeding back to you, and might even bring a friend, sometimes leaving you heavier than you were pre-diet. All of the people I interviews put some weight back on, and most put it all back.

The biggest issue with RDs is that you are denying your body, which is something you should never do. You NEED carbohydrates for energy. You NEED those good fats to protect your organs and maintain a healthy metabolism. You NEED protein to repair and grow. I could go on. Now your body can go a certain amount of time working just fine if you cut back, but after a while, you’ll start noticing that you’re not on your A-game.

Now everyone’s body works differently, and this is where the effects of these diets can differ hugely. Take my mum for example. A good few years back, my mum did LighterLife – a shake based diet – and was loosing a fair amount of weight. Woo, right? Well yeah, until she started to find her hair was falling out.. Lots of my interviewees experienced breakouts, some felt sluggish all the time, I could go on.

So apart from denying your body vital nutrients (which not all of them do, but still), there are mental ramifications to these diets too. By cutting certain foods out of your life, even if only temporarily, your brain will change the way you perceive this foods, and this will generally go one of two ways. First up, and this is more common with sweeter foods, it can lead to a ‘forbidden fruit’ mentality; you can’t have it, therefore you want it even more. Hello cravings. A ‘slip up’ here will normally result in a response of – and this is a genuine thing – the ‘what the hell’ effect; ‘you’ve had one Pringle, you may as well eat the whole tube’ thinking. This mindset is NOT HEALTHY.

Alternatively, and more dangerously, it can lead to certain food having negative connotations attached to them, and this is association is most common with carbs. You’ve been ticking along on Atkins just nicely, but someone brought home a pizza and you had a slice, and now you feel horrendously guilty and you’ll spend your whole day tomorrow on a cross-trainer in an attempt to ‘atone’. This mindset is NOT HEALTHY.

We’ll move onto lifestyle change diets.

No, these diets can’t promise you a drop of 3 dress sizes in 2 weeks, but the average member can expect to lose 1-2lbs a week, which is still pretty impressive.

Notice how I said ‘member’? Well that’s because all of these diets promote a community aspect, whether it be weekly meetings, online forums or just support from other members, and this community plays a really key part in the success of the diet. Sure, you don’t have to attend the meetings to see the results, but having other people with you doing the same thing can be a real help and motivator.

So why are these diets better for you? For starters, you’re still eating properly. Yes, you might be cutting back on certain things, indulging less and watching what you eat very carefully, but you’re still eating real, balanced food. Balance is important. You might be counting ProPoints, or syns or even just counting calories, but you’re making your own choices and staying in control. I call them lifestyle change diets because over time, you’re just developing better eating habits, and the more you stick at it, the more eating better becomes a part of your lifestyle. We’re talking being healthier for life, not just until summer is over.

Talking to some people who have done these diets, they loved how they never felt that they were missing out on anything and how easy they were to stick to, compared to RDs they’ve tried. Now my interviewees did still have some negative comments about these diets. For example, one person struggled with how liberal the diet was, and due to over-eating some foods didn’t lose as much weight as she felt she could have.

But really, after reading all this, do I even need to tell you what’s best? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a hundred times if that’s what it takes: eat right and live healthy and your body will reward you. It is, first and foremost, your body, and it can look however you want it to look.

Being healthy and happy is so important, please don’t forget that.

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#YearOfFit – Meal Prep 101

Be honest with yourself now, how many times a week/month/year do you say or think the words ‘ok, I’ll start eating better again tomorrow!’? Mmhm.. We’ve all been there.

SONY DSC

In reality, the trick to successfully maintaining healthy eating is all in the preparation. Just taking a few hours out of your week to get yourself organised will save you so much time, stress and slip ups, and you’ll feel like a superhero for being so on top of things!

1. Sort yourself out with the right containers

The right container can be different for different people. My collection of lunchboxes is incredibly varied, but are generally all cute and quirky because that makes me excited to use them. For some people, having matching containers is more important. Design is really a preference thing, but what matters is that they do the job!

There are also a bunch of really nifty lunchbox hacks – for example, I use silicone cupcake cases to split up my lunch!

2. Know your portion sizes

The most common mistake people make with healthy eating is incorrect portion sizes. Yes, you can eat veggies until your heart’s content, but sometimes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing! You can find so many portion guides on the internet.

3. Work with variations

Sure, a lot of people see meal prep as making a big batch of one thing for several days worth of meals, but I guarantee it won’t take long before you get seriously bored of your regular chicken and rice dish. Instead of doing this, I generally make batches of meal components, eg grilling chicken pieces, and then I can mix up my meals by using different sauces, a different salad mix, making a wrap etc. This way you can look forward to your lunch everyday, rather than feeling a bit blah.

I do, however, have my favourite meals that I could eat all day every day, so I generally throw them in every now and then!

4. Think about reheating

The dangers of reheating certain food items are fairly well known, but be sure to look up anything you’re unsure about – rice is a surprise high risk item!

5. Freezers are your friend!

I don’t know why a lot of people are so anti-frozen food; its such a good way to preserve food without additives! Supermarkets offer so many frozen products that you can just microwave now, making them ideal meal-prep ingredients!

Are you a meal prep pro?

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