Life Coaching, Motivation

Life is Like a Cake – the Result Depends on You

You know sometimes you sign up for things with certain expectations but you end up with unexpected results? Yeah, happens right?

Well, last month I attended a life coaching and neurolinguistic programming course and boy was it intense!
We learned about the power of the mind, how we perceive reality, the importance of how we use language both in our thinking and in conversing with others and so much more!

I’ve always had an interest in the science of the human mind. Why do we do what we do? A question that always popped in my mind when observing others.

There are many avenues to study human behavior, but it all starts with our minds! So, learning ‘the language of the mind’ as I like to call it, seemed like a valuable investment.

Yet, as you know, knowledge is power and that can sometimes be scary. Yes, with such knowldedge comes the responsibility for change. Here’s a metaphor to help get my point across:

“Many people have described life as being like a cake. Many ingredients can go into a cake, but the finished cake is down to what we do with those ingredients. We all have different life situations, but we can choose what we do with those ingredients. Some people have many fantastic ingredients, but the cake is a flop. Others have few ingredients, or less desirable ingredients, but are great cooks and make wonderful cakes.”

When we look at our lives and the results we got so far, do we see ourselves as the cause – “I made it happen” – or did life just happen to us? Are we powerless? Do we not have the choice to cause results? 

The philosophy of NLP is based precisely around that. Our conditioned mind drives our behavior which in turn produces certain results in our lives. Therefore every conscious and unconscious decision has affected our lives in some way.

Then, it seems logical to focus our thoughts and decisions towards the things that we want no?

We are powerful, we are the cause!

If you would like to learn more about NLP and Life coaching, please feel free to send me your questions on

lifestyle, Motivation, Reblog

Reblog: How To Work 10+ Hours A Day And Live A Healthy Lifestyle

Did you know that 62%* of people around the world are in paid employment ? Out of those, 1.3 billion** are in full-time (i.e. 9+ hour working days). That is 1 in 4 adults worldwide.

And did you know that about 2 billion out of a global population of 7 billion fall into the overweight & obese categories?


Clearly there is a link here between employment type and individual lifestyles. It is no news that leading a busy & stressful life will wreak havoc on your health and weight.

But it doesn’t have to be so. We all have the power to change and steer our lifestyles (& health), if we only knew.

That is why I am extremely happy when I come across articles such as Heidi Jones‘ tips on how to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle in today’s fast-paced world:

As a driven, hard-working and successful individual it is natural to want to be successful in every way at living a healthy lifestyle, by not starting and waiting for the perfect situation you are creating a ‘get-out of failing’ zone for yourself, “if it isn’t perfect then there is no point in doing it.”

Setting realistic expectations are the small stepping stones to creating the dream life you desire.

What it is not, is lowering your expectations – it’s making them actionable and achievable.

You may not be able to do everything you want, but what you can do is make changes that bring in elements to living the lifestyle you want.

Read the full article (and amazing tips) here.

*62.8% of global working-age population in employment as per the latest World Employment & Social Outlook report

** Source: Gallup article, 2014


7 Tips for Meal Prep

Today’s post is written by another one of the PTs in my gym – Kim Barnard. She will give us practical tips on how to start prepping your meals in advance. But here’s her story first:


“My move into the fitness industry was fuelled after years of working within a high stress environment in the UK. I found that my career and lifestyle were having an effect on my health, so I decided that something needed to be done and found a harmonious balance through fitness, mindfulness and nutrition. This is when I discovered my passion was to help those who like me needed to step back and try to achieve that balance in their stressful day to day lives.”

Meal prepping has long been proven to help many people reach their fitness goals. It is true what they say about “abs are made in the kitchen”! Prepping ensures that you are calculating your macros accurately for you daily meals taking into account what training you have planned and therefore not resorting to those quick fix solutions on the run when you’re hungry.

Unfortunately, the experience of food prepping can be overwhelming for those who are new to it. Successful meal prep revolves around having a plan and if you do this ahead of time you are less likely to make mistakes when calculating macros.

Here are my top tips for meal prep that have helped me go from someone who picked up convenience pre-packaged meals on the run to an advocate for prepping!

1.Pick a day and time 

Set out a few hours on your chosen day to get this done, especially for those who are new to meal prepping, this may take more time in the beginning but it will get quicker and easier with more experience. I usually set out a few hours on Saturday afternoon to get it all done for the week ahead.

2. Start planning 

What does your week look like? Are there days where you have early morning meetings or have to work late? These meals can be prepped ahead of time to take the stress out of cooking when you get up or have to cook late at night. I like to make egg frittata muffins as an easy go to breakfast or protein hit when I am in a hurry, they can be baked ahead of time with your choice of extra ingredients and stored for a few days.

3. Stick with the staples

Choose foods that are easy to cook in bulk and store well. Proteins you can use are beef, chicken and fish. For fats use butter and coconut oil for cooking with, otherwise avocado, almonds and olive oil are all good sources of fats. Stick to the more complex carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, white and brown rice.

4. Know your numbers

By planning what I need each day, the buying and prepping process gets easier. I invested in a set of scales to help prep each meal as at the beginning of my journey I was a bit naïve to what 100 grams of chicken actually looked like.

5. Go grocery shopping

Grocery shopping becomes easier when you have your meal plan. I have a full list of all ingredients required for the week and use a lot of the same ingredients across meals enabling me to keep prep easy. I buy meat and frozen vegetables in bulk which makes my weekly shop actually cheaper. Pre-planning also means that there is no getting distracted by naughty treats!

6. Chopping, Peeling & Cooking

Stick to recipes you know and enjoy cooking as this makes it easier especially at the beginning when trying to work out portioning. You don’t have to cook all the food you prep; I like to create big salads which can be divided into portions. There is no wrong or right way to prep, everyone is different and you can steam, slow cook, poach or try just about anything.

7. Invest in The Proper Equipment

Make sure you invest in a good quality cooler bag if you are out and about for long so that all your food remains fresh. Reasonable quality storage containers will ensure that your carefully prepared food won’t spill everywhere.


Dodging the Stress Bullets

Recently I listened to part of Pedram Shojai’s New York Times best selling book – The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace.

It was quite interesting and a good reminder to live in the moment and make the best of it.

We often think that with success comes happiness & peace and that to achieve success you need to work hard. Sounds logical, but one important thing we miss out is that stress can sabotage all three – success, happiness and peace.

And that is why he begins his book by painting a very real picture of life in the modern western world and what we can do reduce our stress levels. You can hear his insights and tips below:



And if you don’t have the time to listen to the whole podcast, here are my key takeouts from this podcast:

  • In modern times our stress response is linked to financial and employment factors, i.e. we respond to work and money problems the same way we would respond to a life threatening situation such as a lion attack.
  • However, unlike animals, we humans are often unable to let go of the stresses, move on with our lives and live in the present.
  • Instead we hold on to stress and keep on reliving those stressful situations.
  • Our environment also has a huge impact on our stress levels
  • Clean diet, good sleep, full spectrum movement, quiet time and having a healthy mindset are the main components of a stress-free life.
  • We can reduce stress by taking a few important decisions:
    • Eliminate the ‘mental virus’ of need. Modern society pressures and expectations make us believe that we need to spend money on a lot of things (most of which we don’t really need).
    • Take the say ‘you are what you eat’ to the next level. Just as we need to choose carefully what we put in our mouths, we need to choose carefully what we let in our environment (e.g. sometimes even watching the news can get you stressed!)
    • Learn to listen. We are constantly bombarded with data – even the wind hitting your face reflects as noise in your brain. Peace is an inside game and we need to learn to calm the chatter in our brain. If you learn to be less reactive to all this noise, you learn to be less reactive to your impulses. This leads to the point below.
    • Use meditation as a preventative tool. Don’t wait until you are stressed to do something about it. Daily meditation can help strengthen the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain which helps us stay cool under pressure and makes it easier to navigate stressful situations.
    • Remember that we are all mortal. When your life is at stake are you going to care about all the little things that are stressing you? Stress has made us forget what it feels like to be vibrantly alive, not just existing… surviving. Do something that scares you every day. There’s nothing like feeling alive to reset your stress levels.

“If the small stuff is getting you down, do greater things.”


Finding motivation: the first step is always the hardest!

This week the question “Where do I start?” has been thrown at me a few times.

“You are so fit, how do you do it?” Well, you know the saying – where there is a will, there is a way!

So if you have been asking yourself (or others) this question, well done – you have find yourself some lingering will power. Now it’s time to put it in action.

When starting a new healthy lifestyle, it is very important to:

  1. Know why you are doing this, and:
  2. Understand that everybody is different.

Firstly, why do you want to change your lifestyle? To look good? To feel fitter & healthier? To overcome existing health conditions? Or to live a long, healthful life?

No matter what your reason is, make sure it is a long-term goal. It is a new lifestyle, not just a temporary fix!

Once you have found your personal long-term motive, create a vision board or write it down. Make sure that these items are in plain sight (and preferably close to your bed) – they will serve you as a reminder of what you are trying to achieve.


Why take this approach? Visualization is a powerful mental tool which can help you stay on track. It is a commonly used technique in the health & fitness industry, from professional athletes to mental health practitioners.

Once your vision is set in stone (or paper:) ), it is time to seek information and educate yourself. The internet is full of advice, from highly technical research to instagram wisdom – whatever you seek you shall find.

But this is also the cause of much confusion. And that is why you need to remember that everyone is unique. What has worked for one person, may not work for the other.

We are different in so many ways – our genes, our upbringing, our current lifestyles & resources, our likes & dislikes…

Illustration by Sarah & Catherine Satrun

Therefore it is important not to compare yourself to others so much. This will most likely lead to either over-ambition & injury/health problem or abandonment of goals & demotivation/depression.

Here’s why it is important to talk to someone with qualifications & experience. There are many friendly folk in the gym who can guide you to the right source of advice. Even then, be cautious – ask around to find out different opinions & don’t be afraid of trial & error.

The most important thing is to find something that you enjoy and you can easily fit within your current lifestyle. And remember: making small, gradual changes is much more likely to lead to consistent progress towards your goal.

lifestyle, Motivation

20 Ways to Beat Stress

Last week I was lucky to attend a stress management workshop by Heidi Jones, a Dubai-based integrative health & nutrition coach. Read below to find out what I have learned.

Heidi Jones

Most of us are living a busy, fast-paced life where 24 hours never seem enough. All sorts of pressures & deadlines loom over our heads, making us feel stressed out. It is important to be self-aware and to know how stress affects the body and our emotional wellbeing.

We have all heard about the fight or flight response when we are in a stressful situation – but did you know that it can cause a host of physical as well as mental symptoms? Stomach ache, indigestion, heart palpitations, jitters – these are just a few of the physical signs showing that we are stressed.

Normally, a bit of stress is good for us. Why? It helps us be more focused and do what needs to be done. Once the stressful task is complete we go back to our ‘rest & digest’ zone, where the body and mind are relaxed.

However, in today’s day & age we are more likely to be almost constantly in the ‘fight or flight’ zone as we claw through a long list of deadlines or urgent and important matters. This is certainly not good for our long-term health.

So what can you do to help yourself spend more time in the ‘rest & digest’ zone? The questionnaire below, developed by Heidi Jones, will help you assess your work-life balance by looking into which stress management strategies you use often and which ones you need to start using:

Stress Management Questionnaire


Now that you have a list of 20 very practical and easy to apply stress management strategies, you may want to think about what is stopping you from using them in your day-to-day life.

One thing we all have in common is that we all have 24 hours in the day. People are achieving amazing things in those hours – and so can you!

“You have to be very, very clear on what it is that you want. If you know what you want, then you know you need to work towards that and it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice anymore. It feels like it is part of the journey, it’s part of the process, it’s part of you growing as a person to get to where you want to be.” – Heidi Jones

We believe that we can’t do it, we don’t have time… but these are just beliefs – they are not facts.


So here you are: start by implementing practical strategies to relieve yourself of stress, but don’t forget to take the time out and ask yourself what you really want to achieve in life. Sometimes not knowing what we want to achieve is the biggest stress!


If you need more help or would like to know more about how to transform your life, go to Heidi’s blog – – where you can get in touch with her.


How to Stop Binge Eating After a Competition or Reaching Your Goal

By Adrianna McDonald

In the past few years I came across many “dieters”. The goals were from fitness competitions and photoshoots to specific events such as weddings. What worries me the most is what happens to their “diet” after they’ve achieved their goal?

I know for the fact that long term restrictions will end at some point with a massive binge! Most of us do it, even I do it!!!

Binges come more often when we are insecure, lonely, scared or bored. But how and when to stop is the question.


As humans we like rebelling and when we are told we cannot eat something, it then becomes a very tempting “forbidden fruit”(we all know that story). Once we reach our goal and the strict plan we followed finally comes to an end, we end up feeling lost and with no control over the next few days. The floodgates open and the binge starts. It’s common knowledge in the bodybuilding world that after a competition we go for a cheat meal! But very often without another goal (or competition), that becomes a cheat week or month

For someone like myself this becomes a vicious circle but each time it is easier to get back on track. I also have the knowledge on when and how to stop. We all have a desire to look good and feel good and improving one’s physical appearance can be life-changing but only if it is sustainable.

We all have the necessity to experience pleasure either from sport related activities, extreme thrills, sex, alcohol or food.

No one is going to give up something pleasurable long-term without any notable result or outcome. Progress, achievement, acknowledgment etc. all creates pleasure. Being in shape is largely a choice we make.

Diet concept

So, how do we achieve this without completely eliminating the foods which leave a taste of fear and guilt, therefore making them more desirable?

Here are a few tips:

1. First, your diet should be varied. That will help our body to avoid stagnation and provide you with a variety of nutrients with little treats every now and then to keep you sane.

2. Avoid excessive and chronic caloric deficits. You need to create sustainable plans that you can succeed with. The feeling of success is one that replicates itself. It will keep you on track and focused on your goal.

3. Create another goal. Either it is your next competition, photoshoot or event. Stay focused and stay on track. It helps to have someone you can be accountable to like a personal trainer/coach, nutritionist, etc.

4. If your eating is related to your feelings, focus on what triggers your emotions. Instead of trying to resist or deny your thoughts and feelings, try to redirect them. Determine your true needs and what kind of healthy move you can make in order to take care of that need and stop the emotional eating.

We are all unique with our imperfections trying to live a perfect life but we should learn to accept our life exactly as it is.

Stay Fabulous, Stay You!!!!


Research Thursdays: Is the Gut our Second Brain?

Did you know you have a second brain? For a few years now the medical community has studied the “brain in our gut”, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). In a short article researchers from John Hopkins Medicine discuss the effect of gut health on mental wellbeing:

Unlike the big brain in your skull, the ENS can’t balance your checkbook or compose a love note. “Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination,” explains Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology

To do all of the above, the gut must be an excellent communicator, sending millions of messages to the big brain in our skull. This means that what’s happening in our stomach can affect our mental state.

“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

To read the full excerpt and see link to the original research article visit the Curated Content page.


All You Need to Know About Superfoods

By Adrianna McDonald

Superfoods – what are they?

They are nutrient-rich foods with many benefits. They’ve become very popular and it’s only in recent times that they’ve been identified as superfoods with near super powers. And, since everyone is now into organic food, it’s become easier to find these foods in most places where you wouldn’t have found them even a few years ago.

Why should you eat superfoods?

They are rich in nutrients and work wonders in keeping your mind and body healthy. But this is not all. Once you start consuming superfoods on a regular basis, you will start noticing the difference in not just how you feel, but also how you look.

Eating these foods regularly makes your body healthier, helps you flush out toxins more frequently and leaves you with a healthy glow. They are full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, polysaccharides, enzymes and glyconutrients to name a few.

However, the best part is that these foods are clean, pesticide-free, organic sources of these nutrients, so in effect they act faster and work better.

Here’s a list of the top 5 favourites:

1.Goji Berries

These berries are deep red in colour and are often dried and eaten as raisins.


  • Increases immunity
  • Protects liver
  • Improves eyesight
  • Improves quality of blood
  • Prevents ageing

Goji berries contain a number of nutrients like amino acids, vitamins, polysaccharides, and HGH (human growth hormone).

The Chinese believe that Goji berries can considerably enhance libido and improve sex life. They are also a rich source of antioxidants which are crucial to keep you young but also to improve vision and eyesight.

Goji berries are known to aid the production of choline, which stops the production of free radicals and prevents degeneration of the brain due to diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

These are also known to protect the arteries from narrowing down due to the build up of plaque along the walls, which can cause heart related diseases.

Goji berries can be added to teas or soups to make them healthier or you could just munch on them as you would with raisins. They can also be blended into smoothies or juices or added to other recipes to fortify them.

2. Acai Berries


  • Helps people sleep better
  • Makes the immune system stronger
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Regulates the levels of cholesterol in the body
  • Improves vision
  • Improves circulation and functioning of the heart
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Detoxifies the body

Açaí berries are known to contain significant amounts of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 as well as monounsaturated oleic acid. They also have a high concentration of blue pigmented antioxidants and one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) values amongst fruits. As we all know, free radicals are the cause of all harm in our bodies, including the ageing process and açaí berries are excellent in absorbing these free radicals.

These berries also contain plant sterols which are known for their cholesterol absorption qualities and  have as many as nineteen different amino acids. In addition, the dietary fibre in açaí berries helps with digestion.

They are a perfect snack as they’re low in sugar and have plenty of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and vitamins such as beta-carotene and vitamin E. AçaĂ­ berries are also considered as a cancer fighter. This superfood can be consumed as a supplement or blended into smoothies.

3. Cacao 

These beans are actually much more than a source of chocolate. Cacao beans are superfoods in themselves and have some amazing health benefits, including:

  • Increasing the blood flow to the brain and enhancing brain function
  • Having a high concentration of antioxidants such as polyphenols, catechins and epicatechins. Antioxidants, as we all know, are the holy grail of youth and a disease-free life.
  • The magnesium in cacao is good for the heart, helps prevent constipation and even eases menstrual cramps.
  • Cacao also has iron, which makes it a great weapon to fight against anaemia.
  • Cacao contains chromium, a trace mineral which works wonders to maintain the balance of blood sugar.
  • Manganese, another trace mineral that can be found in cacao is great when it comes to building up of haemoglobin.
  • Zinc, another mineral that cacao contains is known for its essential role in enhancing our immune system.
  • Raw cacao contains vitamin C as well which has many benefits and uses.
  • It contains essential omega 6 fatty acids.
  • Cacao beans contain certain compounds that can trigger weight loss, make you feel good and improve your mood considerably.
  • The fibre in cacao beans works wonderfully to cleanse the digestive system.

An important thing to note is that cooked and processed chocolate contains rancid omega 6 fatty acids or trans fats which are not healthy for you. It’s best to look for raw cacao chocolates or make your own at home.

Cacao can be found as a cacao beans with or without the skin, nibs, cacao butter, powder or paste and ideally it should all be raw and organic. Include them in your usual drinks such as smoothies or coffee. You can also use cacao in desserts.

4. Maca root


  • Increases stamina and libido
  • Helps the endocrine system function properly, thereby eliminating hormonal imbalances
  • Lowers anaemia and alleviates menstrual discomfort and cramps
  • Is also known to be effective in fighting stomach cancer and tuberculosis
  • It’s a rich source of fatty acids and sterols
  • Has a good concentration of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus as well as vitamins such as B1, C, B2 and E
  • It is known to help women deal with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings
  • Works wonders at reducing the symptoms of altitude sickness

Maca root is usually dried and powdered and can be consumed as part of smoothies, teas, milk or coffee. Maca works best with cacao so you can combine these two superfoods and create your own super-charged powder mix.

A word of caution though. Maca is indeed one of the more potent types of superfoods because it can cause changes in the way you live and react due to the high levels of iodine it contains. It’s always advised to use superfoods cautiously and never in excess because of the potential side effects, such as elevated heart rate.

5. Camu Camu 

If you thought that tanking up on Vitamin C will keep colds away, you’re right. But don’t rely just on citrus fruits for this. Take a look at the Camu Camu berry.

This berry contains the highest amount of Vitamin C in any botanical source and you might be surprised to learn that while a lemon can contain 0.5 percent Vitamin C, the Camu Camu berry contains up to 4 percent.

It also contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus and iron. Amino acids such as leucine, serine and valine are also present in this excellent superfood. Other vitamins that are also found in the Camu Camu are thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.

Here are some of the benefits of the Camu Camu berry:

  • The huge amount of Vitamin C content ensures that your immune system stays in top condition
  • Helps improve your eye sight considerably
  • Great for the skin
  • Keeps away colds and other viral infections
  • Keeps your tendons, collagen and ligaments strong
  • Helps in keeping your lungs healthy
  • Works at reducing inflammation considerably
  • Regular consumption of Camu Camu helps you keep your cool in stressful times
  • Helps in keeping organs like eyes, brain, heart, skin and liver in good working condition

The Camu Camu berry is available as a dried powder which can be used in various ways. You can mix it with water to make an instant health drink or add it to juices and smoothies. The Camu Camu berry powder is tangy and flavourful so it’s a pleasure to consume it. Do note that excessive consumption could lead to diarrhoea, so take this superfood in moderation.


BMI – Body Mass Index or Be More Intelligent

By Adrianna McDonald

This subject came to me recently as I got an email from school (my kids are 5 & 8) saying that due to the health concerns for some students, the school will measure the BMI of pupils to make parents aware of those kids at risk of obesity. I decided this would be good subject to write about, as I believe GP doctors still use these measurements to determine one’s health.

But is it reliable? Is it necessary?

Considering the relative oddness of what BMI measures are (weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters), I wonder how this managed to become such an important indicator of good health. It is a basic calculation to determine if you’re at the right weight for your height. It’s generally a dependable measure of your risk of developing chronic diseases related to obesity. Even though BMI may be useful for helping to identify long-term trends for the average person, it is quite a poor metric for assessing the health of individuals. Norms don’t apply to everyone, and some may fall well outside the standard deviation.

What Makes An Olympic Body?

It is easy to see that body weight itself can often be very misleading – take a bodybuilder as an example: the BMI could put him/her in the overweight category. The issue with the body mass index for bodybuilders is that it doesn’t take body composition into account. Because they have more muscle mass than the average person, their BMI will probably fall into the overweight or even obese range and the truth is that you just have a high amount of muscle mass, which makes you weigh more. This BMI error doesn’t occur only in professional bodybuilders. Well-muscled people are often given higher BMIs and the subsequent “medical” diagnosis of being overweight or obese.

There are individuals who are overweight but otherwise healthy, and others, who have a “normal” BMI, but who are at high risk for cardio-metabolic disease (thin outside, fat inside). And in no way does BMI calculate a person’s body fat directly.

In conclusion:

Instead of worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.

Building muscle mass is important in decreasing metabolic health risks.  Fact is: building muscle and increasing your BMI (by increasing your overall body weight) could actually help to improve your health and decrease your risk of premature death (explained in detail here).

Going back to the email I received, are parents really that blind that they can’t notice if their child is overweight or obese? Furthermore, can’t an adult himself not notice they have the same problem? …