Macadamia Coconut Peanut Butter


Since posting about my homemade MCP butter on Instagram a few months ago, I received loads of emails asking for the recipe. Peanut butter is one of my favourite things, but having even just a regular serving of it doesn’t sit well with my body; I get very bloated and, well… “gassy” is probably the nicest way to put it. Haha

So when I was in Hawaii a couple of years ago and discovered macadamia coconut peanut butter I was just a little excited. Not only was it even yummier than plain PB, but it appeared to digest much better in my system. Even though I brought about 4 jars home with me, I soon ran out. The postage from Hawaii is quite expensive, and I had just bought myself a Thermomix (best investment if you ask me!), so I thought I’d experiment to try and make my own. A thermomix is basically a very high powered food processor with a little more functionality. Although they are very expensive, I’ve been told you can get similar things now for up to a quarter of the price that will probably do what you need it to.

My version doesn’t taste exactly like the Hawaiian version, but it’s still frickin amazing, and you could change the taste to suit your liking by adjusting the ratio of peanut, macadamia and coconut, and/or adding honey/maple syrup or even a bit of coconut water concentrate or coconut sugar (using regular coconut water will make it too runny).


300g desiccated coconut
300g unsalted roasted peanuts
300g unsalted macadamia nuts
Optional: 2 tbs organic honey or maple syrup (I usually use honey)


– Put the coconut into the thermomix and whiz on 9 (fastest speed) on 37 degrees Celcius for 3 mins scraping down the sides every minute or so. I got this part of the recipe from here. You can also get coconut butter (Copha) from the supermarket already made, just make sure you melt it before using in this recipe.
– Add the peanuts, macadamias and any honey/maple syrup/coconut sugar to the coconut butter and whiz on 9 for another 2-3 minutes, still scraping down the sides approx every minute.

Voila, you have some amazing yummy coconut peanut butter. As you can see, I like to have mine with some sliced banana

.TIP: If you want it to be a more solid consistency, store it in the fridge.


Avril xx

Eating to "Fill Your Macros" vs Eating Whole Foods


I just received this message from a past client, and thought it was worth sharing:

“I just starting training with a lady at [overseas gym] and she is suggesting I do “if it fits your macros” aka flexible dieting. I’ve always kind of gone off the basis that the more whole foods the better, and limit packaged/processed/sugars and excess carbs but here she is saying she eats Oreos everyday because they “fit her macros”… just wanted to get your opinion on this whether it’s legit or bullshit!!!”

For anyone who doesn’t know, “macros” refers to your macronutrient breakdown of the foods you eat, i.e. the amount of protein, carbs, fats, sugars, fibre, etc.

My reply:

Ok so technically she’s correct and so are you. She’s probably not trying to lose weight and exercises hard most days or multiple times daily, which might be why she can eat Oreos and not get fat. That’s if you want to look at it from a weight/loss gain perspective only. If you want to look at it from an “overall heathy lifestyle and developing good habits” perspective, then instead of Oreos you might fill those carb/sugar macros with whole foods like fruit or even greek yoghurt instead. Maybe what she is trying to point out is that even if you eat whole foods, you can still get fat. You can gain fat if you eat too much of anything. For example if you only need “x” amount of fats per day (different to every individual) and you go and eat 12 eggs, 3 avocados, and 5 handfuls of nuts in 1 day, then you will more than likely eat way beyond the amount of fat your body requires and the rest is basically “a waste of calories”. You could have been putting those calories to better use by eating different vegetables or meat or whole foods as you like to get a wider variety of nutrients and your body will function better! When you function better you feel better and get faster results!

So yes she’s right, but take it with a grain of salt. Don’t go eating Oreos every day and understand that her goals are different to yours. Stick to your whole foods, but maybe just adjust the types of foods you are eating and quantities of each to “fit your macros”. 

How I Stay Motivated


90% of getting the body you want is not diet, or exercise. It’s mental. It’s motivating yourself to get to the gym, to push yourself through a workout and convincing yourself that no, you actually don’t want to eat that chocolate right now. You can have the best training and diet plans in the world, but if you’re not willing to stick to them then they can’t help you. It’s now just over a month into 2015, and about that time that many people start to forget about their New Year’s Resolution to be in the best shape of their lives. But this doesn’t have to be you! I have been training consistently for 6 years now, and often get asked how I continue to find the motivation. So here it is, this is what keeps me going:

Always have a goal. Whether its something related to the way you look, or something more related to athletic ability, or entering in a race/competition… if you don’t have a reason to do it, you wont.

Set clear, specific goals and write them down. Rather than just saying “I’d like to tone up a little”, each goal must be specific, quantifiable and with a time limit. A better example would be “I want to fit into my old jeans by Easter” or “I want to run be able to 1km in under 5 minutes by April”. If your goal is looks-related, find a picture of someone with a similar body shape to yours that represents your ideal result and stick it on your goals board. If your goal is significant, you may even want to break it down into smaller short term goals so it feels more achievable and you can be more confident of getting there.



Write it down. Before you even get into the gym, be prepared with a training program ready to go.

Train with a timer. You’ll be surprised at how effective having something beep at you is to stop you slacking off! Depending on the type of program I’m doing, I usually like to exercise for between 1 to 2 minute rounds, and then give myself 15 to 30 seconds rest between exercises. There is a simple but awesome little iPhone app for this called “Interval Timer”… and it’s free!

Make it a competition:

– Use a heart rate monitor and keep it up! Most good heart rate monitors will also tell you how many calories you burn. On the program that you have written out, write down how many calories you burned in each timed round and try and beat it each time you do that same exercise.

– Write down your reps/speed/distances etc and try and beat them every round. Compare again when you do the same exercises weeks later! Seeing improvement is a huge motivator!

Learn a new skill or set yourself a challenge, for example boxing, mastering a new plyometric exercise, or entering in a fun run. If you have something to work towards, training is so much more fun!

Train with a friend or personal trainer. Consistency is the key to getting results, and this is far more achievable when you are accountable to someone.



Dedicate time each week to prepare your food for the week. It doesn’t have to be all day, I spend less than an hour in the kitchen every Sunday afternoon steaming up some veggies that I keep in the fridge ready to throw into salads, omelettes or just heat and eat. Which means that making a healthy, nutritious meal when I’m busy during the week takes 2-10 minutes rather than 30… which I definitely don’t have time for! Remember, failing to prepare is preparing to fail!

Plan your cheat meals. Every Sunday I like to have a banana and ice-cream sundae, drowned in melted chocolate. It’s my favourite thing ever. But I will only have it if I’ve eaten well all week. So on Tuesday, when one of our gym members brings in some delicious looking home-made raw desserts, I think to myself “is this going to be better than my ice-cream sundae?” 99 times out of 100 the answer is no and I just remind myself how good my sundae will taste on Sunday. If I choose the raw dessert right then and there, there will be no ice-cream sundae. This way I’m not depriving myself, but just staying in control and maintaining healthy eating habits.

If I’m on holidays I want to let my hair down a little and enjoy lots of yummy food. So similarly, I don’t deny myself, but just allow myself one “bad” thing per day, and I exercise daily. If I find two “bad” things I want in one day most of the time the second one will still be there the next day and if not, then by only allowing myself 1 treat I already subconciously forced myself to choose the better one 😉 If you’re still eating 90% healthy, it wont be too hard to work off any extra kilos when you get home.

Making the right choices is not always easy, but it can be a lot easier if you’re excited about doing it. I hope these tips can help you too stay motivated and achieving your goals! And make sure you share with your family and friends, because when you’re having a day on Struggle Street, the people around you doing it right will be a big source of your inspiration!

Avril xx

A Fit Girls Guide to Vietnam


I think when travelling, we are all tempted to splurge and over eat, but I know after a few days of that I always feel like crap, have no energy am avoiding bikini photos. So if I’m wanting to really enjoy and make the most of my holiday, being able to maintain some kind of healthy diet and exercise routine is essential. So how do you stay lean and still “relax and enjoy the trip” in a place where the national cuisine is noodles?


One of the best parts of visiting a foreign country is experiencing the local cuisine. And one of the best things about Vietnam is the bread. At first I was hesitant, as bread is something I usually try to avoid, especially in Asia. In my experience throughout Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, China and Hong Kong it’s more like eating stale fairy bread. Until my tour guide convinced me that they make it here like in France; light and fluffy and sugar free! Apparently back in the wartime days the French taught the Vietnamese how to make amazing bread… and she was right! Even the stuff I had off the street carts was as good as the best in France.

Another thing the Vietnamese do really well is eat their veggies. Almost every Vietnamese dish I tried had some kind of yummy salad of veggies with it. They use herbs and spices very well to make even the most bland of raw veggies taste good. And if “gluten free”, “wheat free” or “dairy free” is your thing (its not mine but each to their own), you’ll be in heaven here, as almost all the local dishes are made from rice or coconut milk. And even though they do seem to eat a lot of carbs, their portion sizes are small but filling which is perfect in my opinion.



And one of my favourite traditional desserts that you absolutely must try – Che Chuoi – is basically just stewed banana and coconut cream. So yummy, and actually pretty healthy! Ill post a recipe for this one later once I get home to experiment 😉


While I tried a lot of local food while I was out and about during the day, I mostly ate at hotel buffets for breakfast and dinner, as it was cheap (sometimes included) and had a lot of variety, which made it really easy to eat healthily.



The first day I was there I put on my running shoes and used the Google Maps app on my iPhone to take me for a stop-start running tour around the city. This is my favourite way to explore and get my bearings in a new place, and the main areas of Saigon are relatively close together so it was easy! I wouldn’t have run more than about 10-15km in the 2 ½ hours I was out for. Either not too many people run around outdoors in Saigon or the locals are just very friendly, but I received many words of broken-English encouragement from street vendors and shopkeepers that I ran past! I figured I was going to be sweating anyway, and it would give me an excuse to rehydrate with the fresh fruit shakes offered by the many street vendors. My favourite one was orange, kiwi, milk and ice… highly recommended.


The capital city is almost always warm (I went in “winter” and it was 37 degrees Celsius the night I arrived… normally 25-32 though), so having somewhere indoors and air-conditioned to train is nice. My first hotel didn’t have a gym and the rooms were small, however at the end of my trip I stayed at the Pullman Saigon Centre and the gym there was awesome! It’s a little more on the expensive side as far as Vietnam goes, but definitely worth the extra few $ (I think we only paid about $150/night anyway, as we got a great deal with the Accor Advantage Plus membership cards). The hotel itself is in a great spot, close to the market (you can get absolutely everything here, including yummy street food). It’s also close to California Fitness and Yoga that offers many classes daily including all different types of yoga.



Da Nang

Basically you have two options when staying in Da Nang – on the beach and out of the hustle and bustle in one of the luxury hotels, or in the city centre in the middle of all the action.

Da Nang is very flat, so awesome for running and bike riding (though also very spread out, so take a bike if you’re not prepared to run a half marathon). If you stay at one of the hotels along the beach, there is a great ride up the beach path from there to the Lady Buddha which is kind of like Da Nang’s version of “Christ the Redeemer”.

I stayed at the Pullman, which is a beautiful resort on the beach that offers water sports like surfing, SUP and ocean kayaking and there is goal posts set up for beach soccer (the picture at the top is also from this hotel). They also have a gym there – small, but has everything… weights and cardio machines, free weights, boxing bag, yoga mats and even TRX. They also have a big long grassy area between the main building and the pool that’s awesome for doing sprints and outdoor workouts. And the pool is big enough to swim laps.


The Pullman’s buffet/restaurant had many healthy options and were willing to accommodate any special requests… and the quality/freshness of food was incredible. Even more incredible when we worked out that it only cost us around $10 each for breakfast and around $15-20 for a 3 course dinner using our Accor Advantage Plus card (these are so worth looking into… It’s only about $250 for the basic membership and the 50% off food that you get pays itself off in just one trip!)

If you wanted to stay somewhere in the city, the Novotel was in a great riverside location, close to restaurants, markets and day spas. It has a 3-level rooftop bar here (Sky36) that has beautiful views of the city. And it had one of the biggest and nicest gyms that I went to! No boxing set up though, but they did have 4 daily yoga classes of all different types at about $15 per class (even for hotel guests). You don’t actually even need to be staying here to use the gym or do the classes, you can just come and pay to use it (it is free for hotel guests). They also have an indoor lap pool and you can use your Accor card for 50% off food here too!



Hoi An

Hoi An is world heritage listed, and probably the least commercialised city I think I’ve ever been to… I didn’t even see a McDonald’s, let alone any kind of retail chain or gym. We stayed at the Grand Royal, which was a bargain about half way between the beach and the town (5 mins drive or 30 mins walk to either). It was nothing flash, but one of the best things about this hotel was the free push-bikes that you could take out for the day. We rode in a big loop out to the beach, then along the coastline, back to the city centre and then back to the hotel which was a 80-90 min slow cruise.


There was also a little gym about 500m up the road… Going there was an experience in itself! Ill paint a picture for you… A 5 x 10m “pen” with rusted old weights machines, plates, benches, dumbells and a few shirtless young local guys, covering almost every inch of its unevenly concreted floor. You can imagine the funny looks we got walking in as 2 white girls in brightly coloured gym gear. But it only cost $2.50 for a day pass and did the job.


As far as food goes, there are sooo many authentic yummy Vietnamese restaurants to choose from. Our favourite was “Morning Glory”; both the eggplant and pumpkin side dishes are a MUST! For a main I had the BBQ’d chicken leg and my girlfriend had the ginger chicken; perfect examples of herbs and spices making food taste better than unhealthy fatty sauce ever could. I wish we had more time to do the cooking class here! The breakfast buffet at the hotel was pretty good too, and free   I loved their yoghurt – it was like a natural non-sugary one that came in cute little glass jars that I topped with banana.



I only had the chance to visit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), Danang and Hoi An. When I booked the trip, I didn’t really know where to go or what there was to do in different places. But as it goes with travelling, you often find out about all the best spots to go just through talking to other travellers while there. Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Hanoi are three of those, so I will write a little about what others told me to do there.

Nha Trang is one of the most popular beach spots with islands off of it apparently also with a visit. Phu Quoc is an island over the other side of the Vietnamese peninsular, closer to Koh Samui, that is also supposed to be beautiful, and almost always perfect weather (so we were told). Hanoi is the “northern capital” way up the top, supposed to be very cultural and beautiful.

If you have been to any of the places I missed, I’d love to hear your feedback and tips, as I’ll definitely be returning some day soon! And I hope this helps for anyone planning a trip! 

Get Results From Foam Rolling


With exercise comes tight muscles and over time, repetitive exercise on tight muscles can cause serious injuries. One very effective way to relieve tight muscles is stretching, and foam rolling is an awesome way to stretch those muscles that can be otherwise hard to get in to. You don’t even need a foam roller to do it. As you can see, I use whatever I have at my disposal… Medicine balls, tennis balls, sometimes I just lay awkwardly over gym machines haha.

In saying that though, it can be quite painful (especially if you really need it!) and if you’re going to put yourself through the agony, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Here’s what I’ve learned about foam rolling effectively:

Start at the one end of the muscle you’re rolling and VERY slowly, roll down the muscle. You will feel points on the muscle that will be tighter (and hurt more) than the rest. When you get to these points, stop rolling and hold. Stay on this point and focus on breathing in deeply, and out completely. After about 30 seconds to a minute, you should feel the muscle slowly start to release, or just not be so painful.

If it’s not releasing, you can try slowly rolling a couple of millimetres up and down over the particular point, but don’t go crazy and start rolling all the way up and down the muscle, as this will have little effect. Once the point has released, keep rolling SLOWLY down the muscle until you find the next tight spot and hold. Repeat all the way down the muscle releasing all the sore points, and then that’s enough for one session.

When you foam roll, you are actually breaking down soft tissue to release tightness. So if you overdo it by continuing to go over and over the same points, you can actually cause yourself some damage. You should avoid rolling your lower back and NEVER roll a joint or bone. Make sure you go very lightly on your neck, and seek professional advice if pain persists in this area. In between rolling sessions, be active (and eat your protein) to get that nutrient-carrying blood pumping through your muscles, and stick to regular stretching. Unless your physio or health professional says otherwise, one good session on the foam roller a day should be enough.

Happy Rolling! 

What’s the Best Exercise to Work my _____?


(The guy who asked me this was actually asking me about chest muscles, but this answer pretty much applies to every muscle group.)

There is actually no single best exercise for any muscle group. In fact, it’s not actually very beneficial to do the same exercise/s over and over. Your muscles have memory, and if they are always being worked in the same way, your body starts to know what you are going to do before you even do it, it becomes no shock/challenge to your body, your results will begin to plateau and you are more susceptible to injury. (This is one of the reasons crossfitters often end up injured – doing the same movements and exercises over and over and over.)

Instead, using a range of different exercises to target said muscle group from all directions/angles, will give a far better result. Let’s use chest as an example. If you only ever do bench press, your muscles are only ever going to be strong when you’re trying to push something straight out in front of you. But what about if you lift something off the ground, or push something downwards, or push something from left to right, across the front of your body? All these movements would require use of the chest muscles, so wouldn’t it make more sense to be strong from every angle?

There are 3 planes of motion that you can work through, sagital (forward and backward), frontal (side to side) and rotational. Depending on what you’re actually trying to achieve from working out and how often and how much you’re targeting a muscle group, you don’t necessarily have to work through them all in the one single workout. But to gain maximum results and functionality, over a period of time you should always MIX UP your exercises to target the muscles in different planes, angles and directions.

How to Get Skinny Legs

Toned Legs

Thanks to a growing interest in fitness and obtaining the “bikini body” on social media, most of us are aware that you can’t spot reduct (to just work a particular body part and lose fat from that area). And we know that where we lose body fat from first is determined by our genetics and hormones. But we also know that you can target specific muscles and get strong, toned muscles in that area. So the amount of girls that tell me that all they need to do is squats, leg press, etc and other leg exercises, because they just want skinny, toned legs astounds me – this is so wrong it’s not funny.

Yes, it’s true that we females don’t produce very much testosterone and will not put on muscle and size at the rate that our male friends will… BUT if all you do is train legs, legs, legs every workout, then yes, your legs are still going to get pretty thick and muscly. There are a few genetically blessed (depending on your outlook) women out there who no matter what they do, they will never ever have big legs, but I’m talking to the 90% of the rest of us here. No, I’m not saying for a second that you should avoid working your leg muscles, but you definitely don’t need to smash them until you can’t walk, and then again the next day, and the next, week in week out. Because even though we don’t produce a lot of testosterone, we still do produce it. And over time, if you are focussing on only one muscle group (i.e. Legs) your legs are going to build a lot of muscle, and become disproportionately big compared to the rest of your body.

Actually the best thing to do if you want skinny, toned legs is FULL BODY resistance workouts (including your legs), and lots of both high and low intensity cardio to speed up the burning of fat from your whole body (because as we know, you can’t spot reduct). Boxing is super effective, because it combines all of the above! Also be aware that if you are new to training, or have a lot of fat to lose, it may not necessarily be the squats and lunges etc making your legs big. It could just be that your body is genetically engineered to burn fat from everywhere else first and your legs last… and the fact that you now have some muscle tone underneath that fat just makes your legs look like they are one big hunk of chunky muscle. Think of this as an “in between” stage and just keep working that whole body, keep your diet on point and you will get there! 

Diet also plays a huge part. If you are overeating, or eating a lot of high calorie/junk food, your body needs to burn this off at some point in order for you to stay lean. So if you are eating so much that you have to train at a very high intensity every day or even more than once a day, then you are also going to be smashing your muscles, and going to have a lot faster gains. You may also burn out faster and risk causing yourself an over-use injury. Awesome if that’s what you want, but not if you want “skinny” legs.

I also just want to add a little note that by posting this, I am not at all trying to say that “skinny legs” is an image we should strive for. This is just a question I get asked often and find that there is a lot of misinformation about, and I hope this has answered some questions for anyone reading it. It is my personal belief that being fit and healthy is far more important than having a particular “look”, but if you can have it all, then why not? 😉 For some people having “skinny legs” is genetically impossible without taking unhealthy measures, but by taking my advice above, you can still maximise your results.

3 Ways to Dress Muscly Shoulders to look Slim and Elegant

Since I started boxing 2 years ago, one of the most noticeable changes in my body has been the increase of muscle tone in my shoulders. At first I hated it; I thought it looked masculine, and tried to avoid doing all the necessary strength work required of anyone who wants to take the sport seriously. But then I discovered that it’s all in the way you dress. I was still wearing clothes to suit my old body shape, and once I experimented with a few new styles, I started to love my shoulders.

1. Show off your hips. By accentuating/enhancing the look of your hips, this will balance out the width of your shoulders as well as making your waist look smaller to give you a more womanly, hour-glass figure… Win-win! There are a few ways you can do this. Wearing a fitted/tailored skirt/dress that shows off your lower shape and pulls in closer to the knee will accentuate your hips (as in my outfit post below). Or, wearing a skirt that is tight at the waist and flares out over the hips. Either way, high-waisted skirts are definitely your friend here.

When it comes to bikinis, I like to wear the ones with tie sides, because it gives the illusion of a little extra width on my hips.

2. Strapless or spaghetti-strap tops and dresses are generally not your friend. They draw attention to your chest and shoulders and can make your shoulders look bigger. Halter and tank tops, particularly with thicker straps break up the shoulders and chest and will make your shoulders look smaller.

3. If wearing high neck tops/dresses, try to make sure they don’t cut in too thinly across the front. As you can see in the one I am wearing below, it sits quite wide across my chest, so it’s basically just my arms out the side. Showing more skin will make your shoulders look bigger.

Let me also add that posture plays a huge part too. Stand tall and pull your shoulders back as far as you can, but without puffing up your chest. If you struggle, regularly doing some chest and shoulders stretches will help. My favourites are to put one arm straight out against a wall (palm on the wall) and then rotate my body away from the wall. Also, if you try and clasp your hands behind your back, then straighten your arms and lift them up behind you.

If you have any other tips please comment them below… I would love to hear them! 




IMG_11321-e1414901663218 (1).jpg

Top: Abercrombie and Fitch US$19

Skirt: Armani Exchange US$39

Necklace: Bardot AU$29.95

Shoes: Steve Madden US$59.95

The Power of Positivity


“When one door closes another door opens”

I generally try to always look for a positive in every situation; I have learnt that it makes me a happier, nicer, more successful person. So when it was 2 days before I was taking off to Vegas to compete in an international pageant for US$50,000 prize money and I got home from work to try on my hand-made, designer evening gown that had arrived that day and I couldn’t even get it up over my knees, I was sitting on my bed at 10pm at night, exasperated and trying to find a positive … and that was the best I could come up with.

So thinking how my next door was going to open, my next thought was “I wonder how a brand new, equally as amazing dress is going to pop up out of thin air within 24 hours when I don’t have time to even go shopping or look around?” I actually wasn’t thinking sarcastically haha, I was thinking that in awe at how the universe was going to pull off something so crazy… Sounds stupid I know, but that’s how my positive mind works. And would you believe it but it just did. It’s now 40 odd hours later and I am on a plane to Las Vegas with a dress I couldn’t be happier with, and even better than the original.

The power of positivity…

So the next morning when I had a client cancel, (thanks Tabatha if you’re reading this haha), I raced home to call the designer, send some pictures and figure out a plan going forward. There was no point in getting angry or playing the blame game, because that doesn’t solve problems and by this stage, I had only 24 hours. The plan was to express post it back to her in Sydney, she would fix it up and send it international express post to Vegas, and it should (hopefully) arrive 1-2 days to spare before the big night… Not even stressful 😐

She asked me to cut a split in the too-tight skirt part of the dress, so that I would be able to get it on and we could see how it fit otherwise. To my flatmate’s horror, I chopped a big split right up the front to reveal the beautifully figure-hugging, watermelon coloured underlay. After taking and sending off a million photos, I took another look in the mirror and thought how stunning the dress looked in 2-tone with the underlay now revealed. When I mentioned this to the designer, she couldn’t have been more helpful in organising a tailor to get it all stitched up properly, and taken in in the right places to transform the dress into something even better than the original, and by 730pm of the night before my early flight!

I could have cried about it, blamed everyone else around me, felt sorry for myself and ended up just re-wearing an old dress, or wearing a borrowed dress that wouldn’t fit me as well, or that I didn’t like as much… But if you’re not giving your best on that $50,000 stage against 50 other confident, stunningly beautiful girls then you may as well not compete. Instead, I put my negative thoughts aside, I made a plan A, B, C, D and even a plan E and refuse to let it beat me. And now I’m sitting on a plane to Vegas with the most beautiful dress pinching myself to check that my doors closed and opened the way I think they just did.

See, the power of a positivity 😉

My Essential Eight


Eight things I consume daily to stay younger, fitter, healthier, longer…

I will literally eat steamed sweet potato at least 2, sometimes 3 times per day. I have it in my omelettes, salads, disguised in yummy snacks, with other veggies at dinner… I love it!

Although it shares a name with the common potato, it is actually from a completely different family of vegetables and is so much better for you! It is relatively low in calories, but high in fibre, which makes it a good “filler” rather than eating bread, rice, potatoes, pasta etc… all those starchy carbs that make weight loss/management difficult!

Sweet potatoes also contain a high level of beta-carotene, a carotenoid compound that has been found to protect against cancer and ageing. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of life, especially when the body is fighting disease. They are also responsible for the red pigment in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in carotenoid-containing vegetables (sweet potato, most dark green veggies, carrots, tomatoes etc) will give you a better “healthy glowing skin” look that a sun-tan will! The test subjects also reported that they tanned more easily in the sun and held a sun-tan for longer as a result of the extra consumption of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, so eating with foods like olive oil or nuts can help you absorb these amazing carotenoids!

A female test subject's skin tone, left: with a suntan, middle: natural, Right: after regularly consuming more carotenoids. (Image: University of Nottingham)
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Which leads me to tomatoes! According to mum, these have been my favourite thing since I learned to eat. So for me, all these benefits are just a bonus:

Not only do they carry high levels of carotenoids, but also lycopene, which makes skin less sensitive to damage from UV light, a strong cause of wrinkles and fine lines. Lycopene can also reduce the risk of several cancers, including cervical, ovarian, stomach, mouth, pharynx, throat, oesophagus, colon, rectal, prostate cancer. Tomatoes’ antioxidants (vitamins A and C) fight the free radicals which can cause cell damage. Vitamin A found in tomatoes will also help make hair strong and shiny!

As well as many other vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are a very good source of chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar. Tomatoes are awesome for weight management because they contain lots of water and fibre, which fills you up fast without adding a lot of calories or saturated fats (tomatoes are fat-free!)



Avocado intake is linked with increased nutrient absorption. A study suggests that, when participants ate salad including avocados, they absorbed up to five times the amount of carotenoids than those who did not. They are one of the best natural mouth washes, working by cleansing the intestine (which is the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath).

My Favourite ways to eat avocado is mashed up with a little fetta cheese and smeared on my veggie omelette, or combined with olive oil to make salads creamy without having to add dressing. I also love it with tomato, or even just on it’s own or with a little salt and pepper.

Avocados are also a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that research has shown may help to limit free radical damage (that damages cells promoting cancer and wrinkles!) For this reason, avocado oil is added in many cosmetics because of its ability to nourish the skin and make your skin glow. It also helps to treat psoriasis, a skin condition that causes redness and irritation. Ancient Mayans (who possibly came up with guacamole) considered the avocado to be a food which keeps joints moving freely and the skin young-looking and supple.
Avocado can also be of benefit topically on the skin, as it’s oil is similar to human oils… Try this avocado facial!

– Remove makeup and wash your face with warm water and a cleanser

– Mash some avocado with a little milk or oatmeal and apply it on your face like a face mask

– Leave it for 10 minutes, then rinse it off thoroughly with water

As one of the oldest known and most powerful spices, I add cinnamon to my breakfast every morning.

When I’m not sweating it out at work or training, I’m swimming at the beach or laying in the sun, and especially in summer, this can be an invitation for nasty fungal infections. Cinnamon has strong antifungal properties, and it’s been said that candida cannot live in a cinnamon environment. Since including cinnamon in my daily diet, I have not had a single fungal infection.Also, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower your bad cholesterol (or LDL) for better circulation and heart health. Even just smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory!



Other than the fact that it’s stacked full of cancer-fighting, anti-ageing, blood-sugar regulating, body-cleansing vitamins and minerals… Asparagus is amazing for weight loss. How? Four asparagus spears have just 13 calories, 1g of protein, no fat, no cholesterol, hardly any sugar and just 8 mg of sodium. Asparagus is loaded with fibre, which means your body has to burn more calories just to process these 4 little spears!

I usually use asparagus in my daily brekky omelette, it goes in all my salads as well as being a key ingredient in one of my favourite snacks: tomato and asparagus wrapped in leg ham off the bone!

Ham_asparagus (1).jpg


I eat 3 eggs every day, and that’s just for breakfast… More if I have them in a salad later in the day.

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein around (needed for muscle and cell growth and repair). In fact, the biological value (a measure of protein quality) is often evaluated by comparing it to eggs, which are given the perfect score of 100. While most people are aware that “egg whites” are good for you due to their high protein content, what most people don’t know is that all the nutrients of an egg are actually contained in the yolk. And a LOT of nutrients at that… Egg yolks contain a small amount of almost every essential vitamin and mineral required by the human body!

What about the cholesterol?
One large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is high compared to many other foods. But just because a food contains cholesterol, doesn’t mean that it will raise the bad cholesterol in the blood. Your liver actually produces cholesterol every day. If you eat cholesterol, then your liver produces less. If you don’t eat cholesterol, then your liver produces more of it. Studies have shown that eggs actually IMPROVE the cholesterol profile. They raise HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the size of LDL particles, which should lower the risk of heart disease.



The first thing I eat each day when I wake up at 430am is my chia seed pudding. It’s an awesome high-protein, low-carb brekky, high fibre option, and 3 tbs keeps me full til around 8-10am when I have time to make a bigger breakfast. Other than the fact that these little guys are considered a super food, my favourite thing about them is that they absorb an incredible amount of water, so if you soak them for a few hours (I usually leave them overnight so they’re ready when I wake up), they turn into a jelly-like consistency. They’re pretty tasteless, so you can add whatever to them and give them any flavour you like!

Also, they don’t need to be refrigerated, so the chia pudding is a great snack to have handy when on the go!



Spinach is one of the most versatile vegetables and will go in or with just about anything! It’s also rated as the one of the most nutrient dense, lowest calorie vegetables in existence, so it’s perfect for a getting a huge hit of nutrients without over-doing the calories. One cup fresh spinach = about 7 kCal and one cup cooked spinach = about 40 kCal, with about 30% of those coming from proteins (varies in different types). And it’s another carotenoid vegetable! 

I put spinach in and with just about EVERYTHING. Salads, omelettes, breakfasts, dinners… Chopped up really small, you don’t even notice it’s there!


And although this isn’t a “food” as such, it’s still one of the most important things I do to look after my body.
I don’t smoke, I rarely drink, and I avoid taking painkillers every single time I have a minor ache or pain. I try to mostly eat unprocessed natural foods rich in enzymes, which means my body has to use less of it’s own enzymes to break down food… keeping me younger, fitter and healthier, longer!

Avril Style Omlette


99% of the time, I can’t cook to save my life, and then I have days like today. I was dea set on having avocado for brekky, but I’d run out of my seed “bread”. So I made an omelette, literally ust throwing in whatever left over veggies I had in the fridge and hoping for the best. Then I mashed up my avocado with a little goat’s cheese fetta and smeared it on top… And it was quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever made!

Here’s what I put in the frypan with 1 tbs olive oil, in this order:

 – 1/2 an onion

 – 3 diced spears of asparagus

- 1 medium zucchini

 – a couple of pieces of pre-steamed sweet potato

 – 1 diced roma tomato or a few chopped up semi-sundried tomatoes

 – a large handful of baby spinach leaves, chopped

 – some fresh parsley, chopped

While that was all cooking for a few minutes, I whisked up 2 whole eggs in a bowl then poured it over the top of the fry-pan mix to cook into an omelette. While it was cooking I made my avocado mash (1/4 avocado), washed the dishes and in under 20 minutes the whole thing was ready to eat!

Happy days :)

Tips for Staying on Track with Healthy Eating


This week at Wickedbodz, we kicked off another one of our 40Days2Fit challenges. I wanted to know exactly what my challengers were going through, so I decided to follow the exact plan and all the advice that I give to them, and clamp down on my diet (and exercise, but I already do plenty so that didn’t really change)

It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it definitely helped me to understand some of the mental battles that people go through, and more importantly how to overcome them. And after only one week, I’ve lost nearly 2kg…

  >> It’s ok to be hungry. Ok, so it’s not the most comfortable feeling and I don’t recommend that you are should feel like you are constantly starving, but you don’t need to go running for the fridge as soon as you feel it. In fact, I think it’s a good exercise some people should try for a couple of days; don’t eat unless you’re really hungry – like feeling sick and stomach hurting kind of hungry – rather than just eating because it’s meal time. This helps to understand and calculate portion sizes, many people eat just because it’s meal time and eat too much, so over a whole day it adds to a lot more calories than what was required, and difficulty losing weight. Our bodies are actually capable of surviving for weeks and months without food, so an hour or few until you can get to a healthy meal or snack is really not going to kill you. Don’t give in to the junk food because you feel “I just have to eat something”. You don’t.

>> With that said, Be Prepared, with healthy handbag / car snacks / heat and eat meals in the fridge etc, so you don’t have to be in that situation. Every week I steam up a but batch of veggies and leave them in the fridge ready to quickly heat in the microwave and eat if I’m in a rush, and if I run out, I’ve always got my back up frozen veggies in the freezer 😉

>> How did I stay away from yummy food temptations? Keep in mind that there is a healthier option that you like just as much, if not more. After training on Friday night, I was tired and a little time restricted to get ready for an appearance later that night. “I’ll just get a kebab” I thought, starting to salivate in excitement. As far as fast food goes, it’s not really the worst option, but I still felt a little guilty about going off the plan. So I thought, “what can I eat that’s fast, just as good, but healthier?” I compromised, and bought 1/4 BBQ Chicken instead and made a quick salad at home. It really was just as yummy as a kebab, but I felt a million percent better knowing I’d eaten something healthy, and my body showed it the next day.

>> As a real test to myself, I’ve had a chocolate sitting on the front of the top shelf in the fridge all week. It’s the first thing I see every time I go to make food, and when I’m at my hungriest. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard not to eat it, as normally I would convince myself I’ll just train it off. But with this attitude I’d stay the same, and never progress. So instead I just think to myself “oh but Max Brenners is better, I’ll save myself for that on Sunday”, then I have a big glass of water and handful of grapes or cherry tomatoes to fix up my sugar craving while I’m making my main meal and all of a sudden I don’t really feel like that chocolate anyway. So now it’s become a bit of a game… How long can I keep it there for? And every day it’s still there, I feel a little bit more powerful 

>> Always keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. To kick off the 40Days2Fit challenge on Monday night, we had a sports psychologist Mark Edmondson come out and talk to everyone. Something I really got out of his talk was when he said something along the lines of “To get anywhere in life you must have a clear vision of where/what/who you want to be, and make daily decisions and actions in line with that vision. Without that you are just cruising through life and before you know it days, months, years will pass you by”. Doing this would have to be the single biggest thing that has helped me this week, in fact to the point where I don’t even care if I go to Max Brenner today or not (it’s Sunday today). I’m so happy with what I achieved this week without it that I’m happy to just had another handful of grapes instead, haha. Every time I’ve made a decision this week, whether it be to go to bed early so I get a good nights sleep, to push myself that little but harder in a training session, or to stick to my diet regime, I’ve had a clear mental image of my goal in the forefront of my mind and made my decisions accordingly.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

Happy Sunday xx

Seven Steps to Success (at anything)


It took me years to work out how life works, so I thought I’d share what I learnt and make it a little easier for you! For example, I have been doing modelling competitions/pageants for more than 6 years now. I started out sometimes placing, sometimes not. But once I started winning, I almost always won and most recently I just won the biggest swimwear pageant in the world, Miss Swimsuit USA International. It’s these attributes of learning how to be successful that I applied to not just my competitions, but in every other area of my life too, my fitness training, boxing, business, relationships… everything.  Want to know my winning formula?

1. Make Goals. Without goals, you have no direction and nothing to achieve. The more specific (and realistic) you make your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Years ago, I used to train just to “look good”. Which was fine initially, but once I reached my goal, I found it very difficult to stay motivated. Unless I had a shoot or fashion show coming up, self control often went out the window and laziness would take over, which is not ideal from an overall general health perspective. When I took up boxing, this added a whole new dimension to my training. It was no longer about just doing “enough”, it was about going over and above in my diet and training to be the best I could possibly be, and I am tested when I spar or fight. So when you make goals, I find it helps to make them specific, with a time-limit and a way of testing yourself on them; eg. to run 400m in under 1 minute, or to make half a million $ this year. When you reach your goals, make new ones!

And remember: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”

2. Believe you can. Having the right mindset is everything in this little game called life, and if you can’t see yourself as a success, you’ll never be a success. True story. Since my big win at Miss Swimsuit USA International, probably the most common question I have been asked is “did you expect to win?”, which is when I realise that even though I didn’t “expect” it, the whole week I never really considered any other possibility. I didn’t think “oh she’s got a better dress than me” or “oh she looks better than me on camera” or “I think I’d be happy just to place in Top 10”. Even though all of these things may have been true to one girl or another, I just focussed on what I had to offer and never really thought of myself as anything other than being the winner. If you compare yourself to everyone else around you and look for reasons as to why they are better than you, you’ll never be the best. If you look at everyone around you, find your point of difference and exude positivity and the confidence that you have at least one little thing going for you, people will see that confidence, be attracted to it and start to believe it too. And when other people believe in you, it makes it even easier to believe in yourself.

3. Solid work ethic. Recognise that not everything comes easily, or is going to fall in your lap. Get off your ass and get stuff done, even when you least feel like it. When you don’t know the answer, find it out. If it doesn’t work the first time, try a different way. Find your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. And don’t stop until you reach your goal.

I learnt this lesson recently with a boxing fight I went into. After easily winning my first two fights, I underestimated what I would need to put in to continue to win. When I was tired (often) I would let it get the better of me, and become mentally weak in my training. Although I still improved my skills, my work ethic suffered and I believe this to be the reason I lost the fight; when I stopped for a break, I gave my opponent an opportunity. Which is why even though my next fight is not even on the caledar yet, I have been training harder than ever, especially when I don’t feel like it!

4. Prioritise. When you seriously want to achieve a goal, you must make that one thing priority. Contrary to what others may tell you, forget about “having a balance in life” until you reach your goal; you can’t have everything at once!

If someone told you they would give you $5000 not to eat crap for a month (or whatever steps you needed to take to reach your particular goal), would you do it? I bet you would. But people are willing to go and pay that and more for procedures like liposuction, before they’ve even put in the effort to try and get in shape naturally. Fair enough if you’ve done everything you can and are still unhappy, but for those that the lack self control to just eat properly, consistently, work out your priorities!

5. Dedication and Commitment. When you are amped about a goal, it’s easy to put in the extra time and effort to get there. But dedication and commitment is about working hard beyond the honeymoon period. Anyone can be an expert at something if you spend enough time studying or working on it, Bill Gates says 10,000 hours.

When I first started working as a personal trainer, it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, because it was nothing like anything I’d ever done. There were so many things I completely struggled to understand or remember, I was put in situations way out of my depth. I thought about quitting. But I didn’t, because I visualised where I wanted to be and committed myself to my goal. And now 5 years on, I’m thankful 

6. Positive support network. This is more than just cutting the negative people and influences from your life, but also surrounding yourself with people that will help you get where you want to be. When I decided I didn’t want to be a wild party girl anymore, I stopped hanging around all my closest friends, who were also my encouragers and instigators. Yes, at first it was a little boring, but you find fun in other things and make new friends and strengthen other relationships by doing new activities.

Having a mentor, preferably one who is at the top of their field, is essential to fast-track success. Be willing to let them harshly critique you without taking offence; remember they have made the mistakes you don’t want to. The thicker your skin and more open your mind, the more successful you can be. Take everything on board, do your own research and ask as many questions as you can.

And one more thing – do things for other people. Like, go out of your way, without expecting a thing in return. Not only will it make you a better person and one that others will want to be around, but every now and again, one of them might want to help back. What goes around comes around.

7. Intrinsic Motivation. This is the one thing of all the above that will make or break you. You either want it or you don’t. This is the passion, the burning desire you must have from within to want to achieve whatever goal you have. If you don’t really want it, you probably won’t get there. So find your passion within your goal, the thing that really drives you, why you really want it, how it will make you feel when you get there.

Not set yourself some goals and go kick ass!!!!

My "Choc Mud" Protein Balls

chocolate protein balls

Protein balls are fast becoming a favourite healthy snack for many, including me! Over the last few months, I have experimented with stacks of different recipes to come up with my favourite, that I am sharing with you here  These actually taste like little mud-cakes! Amazing!!!!!


– about 360g of pecan nuts (or almonds, or walnuts)- 2 tbs raw cocoa powder- 2 scoops (60g) protein powder (vanilla is best, unless you like them really sweet, then use chocolate!)- 8 fresh pitted dates- 1tsp cinnamon powder- 1 tbs natural vanilla extract- Optional – 1/4 cup seeds (chia, sunflower, pumpkin), 2 tbs all natural peanut butter, max. 1 tbs coconut oil- desiccated coconut (for rolling)

1. Put all dry ingredients into a food processor and blend until it’s crumbly
2. Add wet ingredients to the food processor until it’s a sticky (but not soggy), even texture. You may need to add a small amount of water if your mix is a little dry, or more protein powder/nuts if your mix is too wet.
2. Use your hands to roll parts of the mixture into balls, and roll them through the coconut.
3. Set (and store) them in the fridge until hardened.

Two protein balls is an ideal serve for a snack on the go!


The Most Effective Fat Burning Exercise

This is a question I get asked a lot, I guess mainly because people think if they could do just one thing, losing weight would be so easy. So I’ll explain to you in the most simple terms possible how and why I’ve come to my conclusion, and I think you’ll be surprised to discover that the most effective fat burning exercise is actually also a lot of fun! Sound too good to be true…?

Before I go on, it is important that I explain what bodily fat is, or more, how it gets there. The fat on our bodies is a storage of energy (measured in calories or kJ). It is healthy to maintain some body fat, more for women than for men. Among other important functions, it keeps us insulated, gives us padding to protect our organs and acts as an energy reserve. It increases when we consume an excess of calories (more than what we use) and vice versa. Food energy comes from molecules of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, organic acids, polyols and ethanol; but mostly from the first three. Water, minerals, vitamins and fibre are other molecules that are essential to our survival, however contain little or no calories.

Eating food containing high amounts of fat molecules will not necessarily increase your bodily fat, instead, eating too much food energy in general will make you fat. Our bodies are pretty smart; when they need nutrients, they turn on the hunger signals to make you eat and they turn them off again. As your body digests what you have just consumed it recognises if it has just received all the nutrients it was asking for. If you just ate french fries and a cheeseburger, chances are it wouldn’t have, and as well as having just eaten a seriously high amount of calories, you will probably be feeling hungry again shortly after. So basically, eating crap increases your chance of consuming too much food energy and therefore, getting fat.

If you had’ve eaten a piece of baked fish (high in healthy fats and protein for cell repair and regeneration and other important bodily functions) and a variety of lightly steamed, colourful veggies (full of carbohydrates for energy, as well as fibre and essential vitamins and minerals), you would have not only consumed far less calories, but your body will keep those hunger signals switched off for longer, and you probably won’t overeat.

There can be other factors that come into play when it comes to gaining and losing fat and I could go on about this point for another 12 pages, but basically, if you consume more calories from food/drink than what you burn in daily activity, then you will get fat. The opposite is similar, but this is where participating in the right type of exercise becomes important. If you consume less calories than what you burn, you will lose weight, but not necessarily from fat.

Carbohydrates are the easiest source of food fuel for your body to use (they are broken down fastest), so your body will choose to burn these first. Once it runs low or out, it has a choice of using either fat (from food or stored) or muscle (proteins). To ensure that this weight lost comes from fat rather than muscle, you need to load your muscles regularly to remind your body that you still need them, as well as consuming adequate protein to maintain their growth and repair. And as an added bonus, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism, and therefore the more calories you burn at rest.

So with all this in mind, the most effective fat burning exercise is going to be something that burns a sh*t load of calories, as well as giving your muscles an intense workout, whole body over. The key to burning a heap of calories in a short space of time, is to get your heart rate up. A few things come to mind; lifting heavy weights, sprints, and boxing.

Lifting heavy weights will definitely give your muscles a serious workout. During the period of exercise, you will not actually burn so many calories, but the amount you burn over the course of the day as a result of your increased metabolism from lifting the weights will be more significant. With an effective weights program, you can work your whole body, and the more muscles you get working, the more calories you burn!

Sprints also give your muscles as awesome workout. Although arguably not as much as a big weights session would, for most people, it would still be enough have your body choosing to burn fat before muscle. Sprinting (whether it be running, swimming, rowing, whatever) will work your whole body, get your heart rate pumping and definitely burn a heap of calories, and likely more than lifting heavy weights will.

In my opinion, boxing is the most effective fat burning exercise out there and I’ll tell you why: not only does it give your muscles a solid workout, and get your heart rate charging, it is super fun and adds a competitive edge. What this means is that you are less likely to slow down or stop just because you are tired. In my experience as a trainer and as a boxer, people will always put in that little bit extra when it comes to punching the pads than they would ever do on a treadmill or weight stack. When boxing with proper technique, you push muscles from your whole body as hard as if you were lifting heavy weights, and at an intensity equal to all out sprinting. Boxing combines the attributes of two of the best fat burning exercises, which arguably makes it the most effective fat burning exercise around.

Simple Ways to Make Salad Taste Good.

Sick of boring old salad? Me too! So here are a few healthy tips I came up with to make it a little more exciting! Salad is now one of my favourite meals in the day!!!! (Bear in mind that all of these things together at once might not taste so good haha… pick a few and experiment)

– Grill/bbq your chicken/beef in Cajun spices/ sauté with some garlic and onion

– Add fetta, especially with boiled eggs; this tastes amazing!

– Add a little salt and pepper! Anchovies can also put a different spin on the saltiness… (Adding salt is not always a good option if you have a history of high blood pressure/circulation problems)

– Include some red onion, or green shallots

– Try it with some chickpeas and corn

– Add some nuts (walnuts, pine nuts or slivered almonds are my favourite)

– Use a natural greek yoghurt dressing; I make one of my favourites by stirring through some chopped up mint – goes awesomely with spicy stuff!

– Include some roasted garlic… Next time your are baking something in the oven, peel some garlic cloves and put them in the corner of your baking tray until they’re soft, maybe 15-20 mins? You can keep them in the fridge ready for your next week of salads!

– Add in your favourite fruit! Add a little sweetness to your salad with half a piece of chopped up fruit… far more nutrients and tastier than dressing!

That’s just a few to start you off and get you coming up with heaps more of your own! Where do I get my ideas? When I eat out, I take note of certain foods/spices that go well together and then try them together in a salad! You’ll be surprised at what tastes good together… eg. rocket and yoghurt, or egg and fetta! Or go to a great salad bar and see what the experts do… Then try adding a couple of the healthier ingredients to your own normal salad and see if you like it. Not everything tastes good together, so you may have to so a little testing, adding and removing ingredients!

Some of my favourites….

Rocket, Pear, Walnut and Greek Yoghurt (below)


Cajun chicken, corn and chickpeas, spinach, tomato, roasted garlic and fetta



Egg, anchovies, olives, fetta, asparagus, roasted garlic and spinach (below)


One last tip to get you loving salad…

I think many will agree that there’s nothing more annoying than trying to get your mouth graciously around a forkful of lettuce leaves/spinach/whatever you use. Plus it makes a small salad look huge, and you might find yourself hungry again soon after. Chop your leafy greens into tiny pieces and you’ll eat loads more of them, AND without getting tomato/yoghurt/whatever up the side of your face 😉 It takes 10 seconds!

I hope this helps to reignite your passion for a daily dose of the healthy stuff! Salad is one of the best ways to pack your diet full of raw veggies loaded with essential vitamins and minerals!

Beat the "Monthly" Cravings

You’ve got 3 weeks under your belt of training hard and eating clean, you’re reaching your goals and feeling amazing. And then it hits… that time of the month. Your moods are affected, you crave salty, sugary and fatty foods, feel bloated and if you don’t have a super strong level of self control, that healthy routine just seems to go out the window. Sound familiar?

Why? During menses, your body will experience a drop in both oestrogen and progesterone hormones, which affects brain chemistry; dopamine, serotonin, GABA and other brain chemicals. This can cause you to crave salty, sugary and/or fatty foods – or more so the emotional highs associated with eating these foods that your body knows will make it feel good again. It can also affect moods that occur around menses like wanting to cry, being overly emotional etc. However, as most of us are aware, eating too much salt, sugar or fatty foods can be a huge step backward when trying to reach your health fitness goals!

Understand this:

  • GABA: A calming or “peacemaking” chemical in the brain, GABA induces relaxation, increases focus, reduces stress and anxiety.

  • DOPAMINE is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out pleasurable activity.

  • SEROTONIN is a chemical that helps maintain a “happy” feeling, and seems to help keep our moods under control by helping with sleep, calming anxiety, and relieving depression.

So here’s some good news for you… there is another way you can “trick” your body into rebalancing your brain and not only help control moods, but also stave off cravings for unhealthy foods (that will only be a short-term fix and will leave you feeling worse off later on):


Mix a teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder in a mug of hot water (I also add a dash of milk to sweeten it a little, as the taste can be quite strong if you’re not used to it!) … and drink it!

Cocoa contains serotonin and phenethylamine, which acts as a releasing agent of dopamine. Plus pure 100% cocoa has no sugar or fat! Don’t be mistaken in thinking chocolate is the same… Yes, it contains cocoa, but generally has too much sugar and fat to be beneficial – Most milk chocolate is only about 30% cocoa, and even some of the stronger dark chocolates can be up to 30% sugar! 

100% cocoa may not taste as amazing, but will help ensure your training results are amazing! I have been using this tip for over a year now – It seriously works!

Happy drinking 

Make a New Year's Resolution that WORKS

Psychology research says that your chance of success when changing more than one thing in your life at a time is less than 10%, but if you change only one thing at a time you are more than 85% likely to succeed, because the human brain loves certainty and resists big change.

So when making your New Years resolutions, rather than saying “I’m going to lose weight”, think along the lines of:

“I’m not going to eat junk more than once a week” 


“I’m going to exercise for 30 minutes daily”. 

And you don’t need to wait for next year to make a new one! 😉 Research differs, but most say it can take anywhere from 20 to 60 days to change a habit. So after 3-8 weeks of living out your “small change”, make a new resolution that’s another step towards your ultimate goal eg. 

“I’m going to eat 5 green vegetables a day” 


“I’m going to see a personal trainer 3x a week”!

Wishing your happiness and good health in the new year!

Appetite vs Cravings: How to tell the difference

You’ve just spent 45 minutes of your day thrashing your body through an intense exercise session in an effort to lose weight and your metabolism is cranking! Even though you’ve drank copious amounts of water and eaten, you are sooo hungry, but are worried that eating more than normal will just counteract all the hard work you put into burning those extra calories this morning. What do you do?

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in our cells to sustain life. To carry out these processes, the body converts the food we eat into energy. Chemicals in our digestive system break down the food into fuel, which is either used immediately or stored in the body’s tissues as fat. The energy (calories) expended over a day for us to be able to survive is called our basal metabolic rate.

Although you can’t control your metabolism, it can be stimulated during exercise – when you exercise you burn more energy. Also the fitter you are and the more lean muscle that you have, (muscle requires more energy to function than fat) the more of these chemical reactions that take place, raising your basal metabolic rate (so you burn more calories when doing nothing!)

Hunger and thirst are physiological mechanisms the body uses to tell the brain that it needs nutrients.The often-unpleasant feeling of hunger originates from the hypothalamus releasing hormones that target receptors in the liver.

Physiological hunger can be recognized by a growling stomach or a slightly nauseous and/or light-headedness, and usually comes on gradually after a period without food (anywhere from approximately 2-6 hours). The appropriate response to physiological hunger is to eat and learning identify your hunger signals are important in weight loss and management. Eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re satisfied can have a huge impact on managing your appetite.

Try not to mix up physiological hunger with appetite. Appetite is the desire to eat food without a physiological need, but is often felt as hunger (psychological hunger). In some cases hunger can even be mistaken for thirst, which is one reason I encourage you to drink 500-600mL of water before you eat.

Appetite can be caused by a number of other psychological factors, some of which include:

Routine: Hunger can be stimulated by your biological clock (which is also regulated by the hypothalamus). So if everyday you eat lunch at 12pm, then at 12pm you may feel hungry just because your body’s clock says so.

Cognitive: When the sight, smell, taste, texture or talking about food you like, triggers hunger i.e, if one doesn’t like popcorn, the smell of popcorn doesn’t trigger hunger. Interestingly, people can also feel hungry for a particular taste; sweet, sour, bitter, or salty, and will keep feeling hungry until the particular taste is satisfied.

 How to fix: Distract your self with something else; go and DO something, change the subject, spray some perfume etc, anything to take your mind off it.

Emotional – Stress can lead to high levels of the hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fatty foods because they give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief. This kind of hunger often comes on suddenly and can cause you to keep eating beyond the point of satisfaction, triggering feelings of guilt and powerlessness.

 How to fix: In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to emotionally fulfill yourself. Understanding your emotional triggers andemotional eating cycle is a good first step, though it’s not enough. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment eg. When feeling anxious; pump some music and bust out dancing to expend some energy. If you’re bored; find a hobby, watch a good movie, or learn something. If you’re tired; have a hot tea, a bath or a nap. If feeling depressed; ring a friend or go through some old happy photos etc.

After a workout your muscle fibres are damaged and your energy stores depleted, so your body recognises a need for protein for muscle growth and repair, and carbohydrate (the fastest and easiest source of fuel for the body to use) to restock energy supply, which triggers physiological hunger and why you may feel hungrier on days when you work out. When on a weight loss diet however, you want your body to use your stored fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate, and this is why a lower-carbohydrate diet combined with an effective exercise program is usually beneficial for people with goals of fat loss. It is also important to make sure you are consuming enough protein (as I detailed in the BodyBAM Nutrition guide) so that your body can maintain and build your muscle mass. So if you eliminate the psychological hunger factors and thirst and you are still left with hunger, then EAT!! This is your body’s mechanism for telling you it needs nutrients, usually in the form of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and/or carbohydrate. Depriving your body of the nutrients it requires can cause the body to break down, function at a lesser rate and unnecessarily store energy as fat in the body’s tissues. So, start with 500-600mL of water, then eat some salad/vegetables (favouring green ones) and a little protein and unsaturated fat; more often than not your hunger will be gone.

If after a short time you are hungry again, repeat the process, but the trick is to eat slowly, recognise when you are no longer hungry (don’t keep going until you’re full) and stop there.