Super Tasty Overnight Oats

Breakfast is hands down my favourite meal of the day. I get SO excited about creating new recipes and amazing combos- especially when it comes to oats! This is one of my favourites at the moment as it’s light, quick to make and very summery.

Ingredients:

  • 40g Rolled Oats
  • Half a Tablespoon of Cacao Powder
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 4 Strawberries
  • A Handful of Blueberries
  • 100ml of Almond Milk
  • 2 squares of Galaxy Cookie Crumble (optional… but would recommend!)

Recipe:

  1. Measure out 40g of rolled oats and pour them into a bowl.
  2. Put the banana, strawberries, blueberries, cacao powder and almond milk into a blender.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the oats, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
  4. Add ALLLLLLLLL the toppings

Collaboration With The Pilates Studio

Pilates is often stereotyped as a form of exercise which is substantially less vigorous than the majority of other workout options. In terms of how you feel during the session; fairly relaxed and not too out of breath, it definitely feels less strenuous than say a high intensity session. However, because you are repeatedly engaging your muscles and paying attention to specific areas of your body, Pilates can often be a more beneficial workout.

There are a few variations of the workout including mat, barre and reformer machines. The most popular is a mat pilates session, upon where you work through a process of strengthening and toning exercises in order target different muscle groups. Even though the tempo is fairly moderate, the results you can get from continuous sessions of this format is incredible. Within a few weeks you feel stronger, more toned and eager to try more difficult moves.

Having only ever experienced this form of pilates, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to try more variations of this ancient exercise at The Pilates Studio in Norwich. Nestled down a scenic side street, The Pilates Studio boasts a wide range of machines in the most aesthetically pleasing and relaxing studio. The owner of the studio and experienced teacher, Lauren, tentatively went through each exercise by informing me and my friend, Lorna, the science behind the effects it was having on our bodies and how it would help our posture and flexibility. After only an hour’s session, both me and Lorna agreed that we had learnt more from our time with Lauren than we had with any other fitness instructor.

A real eye-opening moment for me during the session was Lauren’s comments on how both me and Lorna naturally do not sit with correct posture. We both appeared to hold our spine at an angle, most likely due to our prominent lifestyle of spending hours on end sitting at a desk studying. Alongside this reason, which will affect a large majority of the student population, another factor to our improper posture are exercises which me and my friend regularly partake in. As fans of Les Milles Body Pump class, there are frequent elements of fast paced deadlifting, which appears to helped in forcing mine and Lorna’s spine to naturally fall into an incorrect position. Lauren aided us in helping to focus on correcting this error and by the end of the session my back felt sufficiently stretched and less tense. When I go to deadlift now I make a conscious effort to make sure my back is set in the correct position, and I have subsequently noticed a big difference in terms of my upper body flexibility and ability to perform more reps.

A lot of people associate pilates as being an exercise for the older generation. However, with young people spending more time than ever at a desk, or slouched over their phone, it is just as important for our generation to practise pilates in order to assess and prevent issues within our bodies which may occur later in life. At her studio, Lauren offers both group and private sessions. For your first time I would highly recommend a private session, so Lauren can figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to tailor your sessions in a way which will benefit you the most.

I cannot thank Lauren enough for the patient and methodical approach she took for our session. I learnt so much about my body and, due to implementing the tips given to us, I feel as though my posture has greatly improved after only a week on. To book a session at The Pilates Studio, simply contact Lauren by email on info@thepilatesstudionorwich.com or ring 07891 987055. It’s also worthwhile checking out her Instagram, @thepilatesstudio_norwich, which is full of mindful quotes and amazing progress pictures. If you want to see the session in action, then click here to watch the video we filmed on the day.

 

Meal Prep: Your New Best Friend?

Despite being painfully overused on social media, the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” is in fact very true. You can train seven days a week but if you’re not feeding your body with the correct nutrients then you will see limited progress. More often than not, eating the wrong type of food isn’t down to purposely neglecting your body, it’s simply an issue of lack of time and preparation.

Spending half an hour at night prepping your meals for the following day, or getting up a bit earlier in the morning, is a highly effective way to stop you from quickly grabbing the same supermarket meal deal which you have eaten every day for the past year and a half. I found it fairly difficult to know where to begin with meal prepping when I first started, but I now swear by these five steps.

 

Make A Meal Plan

There’s nothing quite like planning your meals for the week ahead to cure Sunday night boredom. For each day write down what you’re going to have for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner as well as leaving room for two interchangeable snacks. I personally base what I choose for my daily snacks on whether they’re going to be pre or post workout, and what area of the body I’m training on that specific day. On glute, leg and shoulder days I like to incorporate a lot of protein so I’ll have protein balls or a protein bar. Whereas for a day when I’m training abs I’ll have something lighter like sliced banana on oat crackers.

 

Double Up

The great thing about planning your meals, alongside the heavily reduced stress levels, is being able to double up. If you’re making tuna and sweetcorn pasta salad for your dinner, then double up on the ingredients and set some aside to take to work, university or school the next day. This saves both time and money and ensures you won’t be tempted to the vending machine.

 

Keep A Food Diary

For those who are just starting out with meal prepping and changing your diet, a great way to see which foods make you feel like Beyoncé and which foods make you want to crawl into a hole is to keep a food diary. You’ll be able to tell exactly which foods don’t agree with you within a couple of weeks if you keep your meals fairly consistent. For me, I found that I felt lethargic whenever I had consumed a fruit salad, due to the sudden high intake of fructose, therefore I now only include a handful of fruit on some of my breakfasts, which prevents this feeling.

 

Have One Cheat Meal A Week

Unless you want to go certifiably insane and start hallucinating pizza, then it’s important to have one cheat meal per week. This will be enough to satisfy your cravings, provide more motivation to smash your workouts and give you something to look forward to every week. I usually time my cheat meal with my rest day, so I’m 110% focused to get back to clean eating and the gym the following day.

 

Don’t Overthink

Meal prep certainly aids your fitness routine as a structured guide, but it’s important not to overthink and become obsessive. If you’ve had a really bad day and you’re sadly staring at your designated snack wishing it was a packet of crisps, then swap it. As long as for the majority of the time you’re sticking to good, whole foods then one change isn’t going to make ANY difference. One workout won’t transform your body therefore one packet of crisps won’t revoke your progress.

Why Variety Is Key To A Healthy Lifestyle

Boredom can be one of the main reasons why people swiftly abandon their mission of getting fit and living a healthier lifestyle. Thought of eating salad every day? Boring. Thought of running aimlessly on a treadmill? Boring. Same ‘motivational’ playlist on Spotify? Boring? Unless you find a type of exercise, or a particular diet, which well and truly motivates you, it’s going to be extremely hard to stick to a regime. These are the tips I use throughout the week, in terms of diet, exercise & general wellbeing in order to ensure enough variety.

 

Diet

This is perhaps the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle to constantly switch up. There is nothing worse than being disappointed at the thought of an upcoming meal, as more often than not the temptation to then replace this meal with something a lot less healthier suddenly becomes very high.  My main tip for avoiding this scenario is to meal plan. It takes 10 minutes, you have no excuse not to fill it with healthy, yet enjoyable food and it also hinders snacking (not on the meal plan? then don’t eat it).

There is a rather large misconception when it comes to dieting or keeping fit; in that you can only eat rabbit food, otherwise you won’t lose an ounce. If you’re exercising daily, or multiple days a week, this can often be more dangerous than beneficial. You need enough protein, healthy fats, fruit/veg and carbohydrates in your diet in order to assist any bodily changes. The exact macros vary, depending on what your goal is, (gaining muscle mass, carb-cycling, cutting etc.), but if you just want to ensure a healthy, balanced diet then aim for one item of carbohydrate, two portions of fruit or veg and a source of protein in every meal. Drinking enough water is also crucial, especially on day’s where you’re exercising, as it’s very easy to become dehydrated and fatigued.

 

Exercise 

Finding the right type of exercise which suits both your ability, time frame and will also ensure you meet your personal goals is KEY. There is no point deciding on a Sunday night that you’re going to go to the gym every day of the week for two hours because a) it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be able to fit that in to your weekly schedule b) you’re certain to get bored of the same routine and c) you’ll end up feeling negative and disappointed in yourself. Set more practical aims such as 3 days a week in the gym, coupled with an exercise class or a long walk, to ensure you have enough variety.

Finding the right type of exercise for you is also crucial; you want to be eager to go and workout, not counting down the minutes until it’s over. If you really detest the gym, then exercise classes such as the Les Mills series of Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Attack provide just as good a workout in a fun, relaxed environment. Swimming and outdoor running / cycling are also great additions to a cardio workout, with the added benefit of a change of scenery.

 

Wellbeing 

In terms of general wellbeing, it’s important not to get too obsessive. Yes, exercising and healthy eating are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and for many people they feel better in themselves for doing it. However, everyone needs a treat or something to look forward to, and if you deny yourself these things then even though your body may be healthy, your mind won’t be.

Try and eat/drink/do one thing per week which you know you will look forward to, and consequently motivate you. For me, it’s usually a chocolate desert or a night out, something which makes a particularly hard session worth it. Yoga and Pilates are also a great way to de-stress, perhaps during the end of a busy week in work. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which offer routines which you can follow in the comfort of your own home.

What to eat on Ab Day

There is absolutely nothing better than the euphoric post ab workout feeling where you feel like you can in fact officially take on the whole world. However, as many people discover, as SOON as you start eating that lovely, proud ache starts to slowly fade away (as does the immense satisfaction of having a flat stomach). So, to help prolong your now prominent abdominal muscles it’s important to eat incredibly clean throughout the day. If you’re thinking this means endless portions of rabbit food rations then THANK GOD, you’re wrong. Ab Day food is all about healthy fats, low carbs and a LOT of water.

When’s best to eat?

I always find that my abs improve a lot more when my workout coincides with fasted cardio. To ensure I don’t embarrassingly pass out on the treadmill I always have a rather heavy snack at 8/9pm the night before such as cereal, apple and peanut butter or a protein shake. I then complete my cardio of interval sprints around 9am and then move on to abs until 10/10:30am. I then have a light breakfast, healthy lunch, an afternoon snack and a meat orientated evening meal.

Breakfast 

When you finish you’re workout you’re going to be absolutely grade A ready to cry starving so you need something which is going to fill you up, but still not too heavy. My favourite post ab breakfast is an oaty smoothie bowl, which suddenly becomes even more appealing when it’s prepared the night before. So all you have to do when you come crawling through the door is lift it out of the fridge. Amazing.

How to make it:

  • Blend together an apple, banana, raspberries, blueberries, 1 tsp of greek yoghurt, 1 tsp of honey, 1 scoop of protein powder and 75ml of almond milk.
  • Pour over a thin layer of oats in an air tight container and leave to set in the fridge overnight.
  • When serving either enjoy it as it comes or add some fresh fruit on top.

 

Lunch

Think lean. This is the meal where you want to come away feeling as light as you did before eating, whilst still addressing those hunger pains. You want to get your healthy fats in, as well as keeping it INSANELY low carb. The best way to incorporate all this is a simple salmon dish.

How to make it:

  • Grill a fresh salmon fillet, 6 mins on the skin side and 4 mins on the other side.
  • Fry some pumpkin seeds until they turn brown and start popping.
  • Mash together an avocado, sliced red onion, lettuce, lime and coriander.
  • Place mix into a bowl, add the pumpkin seeds, the salmon and slice some feta cheese on top.

*adaption from one of The Body Coaches Lean in 15 meals

 

Snack

My favourite snack during ab day is a simple, light protein pancake with fresh fruit. It’s not too filling and it will help repair and rebuild your muscles from your workout.

How to make it:

  • 2 scoops of protein pancake mix –  I use MyProtein chocolate flavour (best tasting and lowest sugar count) mixed with 3 tsp of milk in a bowl.
  • Place one scoop of coconut oil in a frying pan and push it round evenly
  • Pour the mixture into the frying pan, leave for 1 minute and then flip
  • Add raspberries and blueberries and then finish of with Zero Sugar Syrup (again, MyProtein)

 

Tea 

It’s highly likely that you’re going to be training legs, bum or arms the following day so it’s vital you provide enough calories to ensure you smash the workout. So, whilst still keeping it clean, try and aim for something meat based for your evening meal. One of my favourites is a simple chicken, rice and sweet chilli dish.

How to make it:

  • Boil a packet of golden vegetable rice for 5 minutes
  • Slice a good sized portion of cooked chicken onto a plate
  • Either use a sweet chilli marinade on the chicken or simply drizzle over a sauce
  • Mix the three ingredients together

Why you shouldn’t freak out if your fitness goal changes

As a previous post explains, my fitness goal has changed several times since I started training seriously. I went from working towards the typical cardio inspired ‘athletic’ look, to putting all my effort into heavy weights and living for leg day. This is COMPLETELY normal when you start to really enjoy fitness as, like anything in life, your goals are there to be challenged.

For the last 6 months my fitness goal has been directed towards my whole body looking muscly and defined in time for summer. I started including more structured arm and back workouts, previously I had just been adding random exercises onto the end of my main workouts, as well as being super strict with my diet. I’m definitely pleased with the progress and I’ve found that I’ve also learnt a lot about my body, both exercise and diet wise, because of this intensive period. I carried on training through family holidays to Jersey, Prague and Italy so it was amazing to also see just how much exercising in the heat effects your calorie burning. However, I recently went on holiday to Zante with my best friend and, as implied by the location, I was definitely not going to be visiting the gym. I pretty much lived off chicken burgers and drank more water than I have ever drank in my whole life in order to try and shift the hangovers, so diet wise (excluding the vodka) it wasn’t a complete disaster.

It’s always amazed me what a short period of time can do to your body, for the better or for the worse, but surprisingly when I returned from Zante I was happy with the change in my body. Living off chicken had obviously packed a lot of protein onto my legs and bum, as they looked a lot thicker, and my arms looked a lot bulkier too. I’d been in and out the pool due to the nearly 40 degree temperatures so my abs had pretty much stayed the same thanks to regular swimming, which was a pleasant surprise after all the alcohol. So thanks to a messy girls holiday my new fitness goal is now to stop my 6 months cut and to start bulking.

How I’m Doing This-

  • Calories. Calories. Calories- I’m upping my calories to nearly double what they were on my lead up to summer. Instead of increasing the size of my meals I’m now splitting them, so instead of having three big meals a day I’m aiming for 4 or 5 smaller ones.
  • Protein- Increasing your protein intake is one of the best ways to add muscle so with every meal I’m making sure there’s either a good source of egg, chicken, beef, fish, milk or protein powder. I’m also using My Protein’s pancake mix to add extra protein to my breakfast, or to use as a snack.
  • Less Cardio- The obvious way to lose weight is excessive cardio, so for the time being I’m limiting it to just two light sessions a week.

So all in all you shouldn’t freak out if you find yourself aspiring towards a different physique all of a sudden. Keeping things fresh and regularly updating your goals is what makes fitness so exciting.

Bikini- http://withlovelola.bigcartel.com

why you need to visit Lake Garda

Located in Northern Italy between Brescia and Verona this huge lake is home to ten fairly small but intriguing towns. I have previously stayed in both Riva Del Garda, as well as Garda itself. For my third visit in just under 4 years, (a clear indication as to how amazing it is) I was once again staying in Riva. Describing this secluded part of Italy is immensely difficult and more often than not photo’s don’t always do it justice. Picture the biggest area of water you could possible imagine, whilst still being able to see land from every angle, couple it with mountains you can’t see the top of and then add in the most colourful, vibrant and rustic Italian buildings and you get a pretty good idea.

There’s not a single part of the lake which doesn’t leave you thinking “woah, defo insta worthy”, and alongside the endless amounts of pizza, pasta and ice cream your camera roll will soon fill up. The slightly larger towns of Riva, Garda and Sirmonie are fairly commercialised, as they rely heavily on tourism, but nonetheless you still get the ultimate Italian experience if you wonder further into the winding streets. The shopping is second to none with endless rows of boutiques and quirky stores and absolutely no sign of the bigger brands, which was actually quite refreshing. Visiting the other towns from where you’re staying is incredibly easy, each town has a small port with boats coming as frequently as every 20 minutes, so you’ll be able to get a feel for the whole lake and not just your chosen destination.

The majority of the hotels all have pools as despite the lake being one of the most picturesque places I’ve visited there is absolutely no sign of sand on the lakeside, so unfortunately you have to brave a rocky walk into the water. I stayed at the Lido Palace which was stunning from start to finish. Considering the original building dates back to the early 1900’s the hotel is impeccably modern from the rooms to the reception area, to the wellness centre. The gym was amazing, as were the spa and pool (all huge factors for me on holiday), and the food in the main restaurant was unreal.

So, if you’re looking for a different alternative for a holiday rather than your stereotypical Spain and Greece and you look for these eight things in a holiday then you definitely need to visit Lake Garda.

  • Chilled Atmosphere
  • Basically living off the Prezzo menu everyday
  • Unconventional views (not just a beach and the sea)
  • Boat Trips
  • Chatting to locals (they LOVE chatting to anyone)
  • Trying new things
  • Not just lying by a pool holiday
  • Walking round with no specific destination in mind