Oh how I need this post. I feel like Mrs Wobble at the moment. I used to be – relatively – fit. I ran 3-4 times a week, did the occasional yoga class and even have vague memories of being a member of a gym in my dim and distant past. But, times they’ve changed. After 3 babies, my stomach muscles are shot to bits, my bottom is in danger of being best friends with my ankles and my upper arms are about as far from Jennifer Aniston’s as you can imagine. I walk a lot, but this, my friends, is no longer enough. I feel the time has come to jump on the fitness bandwagon and actually do something – rather than just moan – about my body. I don’t know if I’ve just become aware of it, but being strong and healthy seems to be a bit of ‘a thing’ at the moment. From Susannah Taylor‘s story of how she embraced fitness in last weekend’s Times (I would link, but there’s a firewall) to Rachel Johnson’s feature yesterday on the same subject (again in The Times, sorry), being fit is very ‘now’. Not that I want to do it to be ‘now’ I just want to be fit, strong and toned.
To start me off on my mission, I turned to the fit, healthy, strong – and let’s face it, super-hot – London-based Swedish fitness trainer (calm down boys) Faya Nilsson. Her award-winning blog Fitness on Toast is a one-stop shop for health and fitness with recipes, articles on everything from how to correct your running technique to targeted leg exercises and nutrition advice plus videos, gorgeous sportswear and blogs from her travels. Here Faya tell us how to kickstart your (and my) fitness routine for summer.
I haven’t done exercise for a while and really want to get in shape this summer. What’s the best way for me to start?
There’s no instant solution, and the slow-fix will take dedicated effort! I’d suggest looking to build or improve your fitness levels quite gradually; whilst you’ll want to make your workout challenging, don’t overdo it so you end up shattered and potentially injured. Instead you want to feel energised, as well as stronger/better about yourself. Setting realistic goals and breaking them down into mini-weekly goals is also my preference as this way you’re more likely to stick with it in the long run. If you can, I’d always invest in a few personal training sessions with a trainer who can customise a programme just for you and make sure you’re executing the exercises with good form.
If I could make one healthy change to my daily diet, what should it be?
Eat your veggies! It really is that simple Cutting out all processed, artificial foods and going back to the way we were meant to eat – clean real, organic (where possible) meals! Healthy fast, lean proteins and greens. Cutting down on refined sugar would also be right up there, in my view.
I love exercise, but I hate my gym clothes. Where can I find fashionable fitness clothes that look as good as I want to feel?
In 2014, you’re finally spoiled for choice! There are so many exciting fitness brands out there these days, both ‘emerging’ and ‘heritage’. My favourite tennis brand by a mile is Monreal London, thanks to the Vogue-ready elegance with designs which are incredibly flattering and beautifully made. It’s always fabulous visiting a Sweaty Betty boutique; I always leave with at least one lovely item.
I want to try some new exercise/classes this summer. What are the new trends in fitness and exercise that you’ve tried and loved?
I’m a big fan of Barry’s Bootcamp (opposite Euston Station in London), which arrived in London from the US around a year-and-a-half ago. It’s a pretty hardcore, focused session and the instructors really push you to your own personal limits; it’s absolutely not for the faint hearted, but does yield fantastic results. I think summer is the perfect time to explore the outdoors too though – go for long country walks and/or hikes. Perhaps also go swimming in the nearest outdoor pool or seaside. Just enjoy nature!
I want to eat healthily, do you have any recipes you can recommend that are delicious and nutritious?
In my mind, ‘healthy’ means exciting and delicious food. The recipe section on my blog aims to be both of those things as well as ‘quick’ and ‘easy’. I favour organic, fresh produce, and steer clear of all refined and processed ingredients. ‘Healthy’ is a long-term lifestyle choice (no fad diets in sight!), which promotes knowledge alongside the appreciation of food, and spoiling your body with the most nutritious, delicious foods you can find. The effect of a good healthy diet is genuinely incredible for mind both and body – some of the best medication around!
Here’s a quick, summery recipe that’s super-light, rich in taste, and requires practically no skill in the kitchen! I try to include one salad a day, which can get exceptionally tiresome, so it’s fun to mix up the ingredients a little, and to depart from the safety Niçoise. This yummy summer salad is refreshingly light, yet still filling, packed with nutritious contents, and is easy & quick to make! You’ll spend a maximum 20min to complete the whole thing including the c.15 minutes it takes to bake the salmon. Hope you like it!
Salmon is high in protein with 22 grams per 100 (good for muscle repair and growth). It’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids – ‘good’ fats which help reduce inflammation, improve cell function, and shown to promote an improved brain function. It’s low in cholesterol and sodium, and has 0 grams of carbohydrates, fibre and sugar.
Beetroot is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It’s a good source of Vitamin C (immune boosting), Iron (blood oxygenation) and a very good source of Dietary Fibre (promotes functional digestion). Betacyanin – the pigment that gives beetroot its colour and makes it impossible to wash off your clothes (BE CAREFUL!), is an antioxidant shown to help reduce the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. This helps protect artery walls and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. One downside with beetroot it’s pretty high in calories and sugar so avoid eating to much of it at once!
Oranges are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are a good source of Thiamin, Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fibre and Vitamin C. Again, the downside is a high portion of the calories coming from carbs (simple fruit sugars) so again moderation is key. That said, it only takes a little to transform the salad and lift it out of the bowl!
4) FRESH SPINACH
My favourite power-leaf packed with goodness. It’s basically an A-Z of mineral wealth: it’s an epic source of protein, contains plenty of magnesium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6. It also contains vitamin E, zinc, dietary fibre, copper and phosphorus. And it’s full of selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. That all means; immune boosting, bone strengthening, vision-improving, blood circulation-enhancing goodness, and much more! And all for a budget of practically 0 calories!
Ingredients (to serve 2):
4 x small beetroots
2 x oranges
150 grams of fresh spinach
50g sunflower seeds
2 x 150g wild alaskan salmon fillets
1 x tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkling of salt and pepper
2 x tablespoons finely chopped basil
1. Boil the beetroots with the shell on. Peel, slice and let them cool off.
2. Peel the oranges and cut into very thin slices.
Salmon Parcel in the oven:
Add olive oil, fresh lemon and some basil. Bake the for c.15 minutes. Toss the spinach on a plate and layer the beetroot and oranges. Add the salmon. Pour over the dressing. Lightly toast the sunflower seeds and sprinkle over the top. Serve and devour.