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Have you ever inhaled the whole chocolate box? Alone?? Then this one is for you.

Picture this. Real story. You just got home from taking the kids swimming (happy day). There really wasn’t time for a proper lunch and with the backstroke cheerleading and shower-get-dressed-let’s-get-home-quick-before-the-traffic-goes-nuts time has flown by. You’re famished.

Alone in the bedroom you find some lost mini fudge bars inside the swimming bag…

They smell good. You go for it. Like really go for it. You close the bedroom door in case the kids hear the wrapping. And you (well, by now you’ve figured out it’s really ME) hide in the corner between the wardrobe and the bed, munching, in case offspring comes marching through the door to find mum has had all the fudges! Hiding, people!!! Seriously, and you call yourself a grown up (by now I actually kind of already knew I was a fraud).

In my defense I have since writing this discovered that lots of mums hide from their kids for all sorts of different reasons. Solo chocolate gobbling being top of the list #SharingIsBoring.

As it turns out I’m not one to give in to sobbing and guilt feels over chocolate bars (even if it’s bad chocolate). But my point is that it’s much healthier all around when you have control over cravings and take time to appreciate your food. You’re more likely to make better food choices, avoid the sugar roller coaster and feel better after your meals.

Mindful eater: a cross between someone who’s into food + willing to give this whole mindfulness business a good go = ME.

So when you throw a mindful eating workshop at one of my favourite London wellbeing destinations I’m game! Gazelli House has been hosting the Healthy Habits Series this October, delivered by the leading UK lifestyle behaviour change specialist Dr Heather McKee.

We talked about the science behind the benefits of mindful eating, cravings vs. real hunger and practical ways to “train” your mind to tell one from the other (it’s easier than you think).

There was a weird point during the workshop when you’re taking a whole 5 minutes to eat a chocolate Lindor (!). I confess was ready to push for the finish line… But everyone seemed to be going with it #PeerPressure and guess what – I can’t remember having had a more delicious treat.

These are the 7 Mindful Eating tips I learned:
  1. Have bigger portions during mealtimes to avoid mindless snacking.
  2. Go French. They usually start the meals with a salad, before the most exciting flavours make that spinach leaf look not so terribly appetizing.
  3. Don’t leave it to chance. Plan your meals and snacks as much as possible and leave the house with something healthy in your bag. And frankly, sometimes you’ll just have to eat when it’s convenient, punto.
  4. Respect your hunger, ie. do eat if you are hungry. Don’t berate yourself for wanting to eat. But before reaching out for the biscuit tin, ask yourself if you’re not just bored.
  5. Embrace “Urge Surfing”! If it’s just a craving, it will go away. Ride the wave, do something else you enjoy, like reading a book or eating ice cream (lol).
  6. Keep healthy snacks available for you and the kids. No, packs of digestive biscuits don’t count.
  7. Tackle the low-hanging fruit first. Start with smaller, easier changes. It builds momentum and will keep you motivated. For me that’s a distraction-free lunch once a week, certainly not tea time with the kids (#Mayhem).

Mindful eating is not about depriving yourself, it’s about making the most of your food. It’s not about what you eat, it’s how you eat it. And by being more mindful at meal times, you’re reaping greater benefits – in becoming an altogether more patient, kind and happy creature. That sounds pretty nice, hey?

If you’re curious about Mindful Eating, Dr Heather McKee’s website is packed with easy tips and geeky bits. There’s still one last workshop left in the Healthy Habits Series, but be quick – sessions are intimate and sell out fast. Check out here for deets and tickets.

With love,

The fudge-eating monster

Ps. It’s a lot easier to be a mindful eater when the spread is as nice as that photo…

The post 7 Expert Tips For Mindful Eating! appeared first on That Fitster Blog.

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Fact: happy people live longer.

On a recent study researchers found that an increase in happiness is directly proportional with a reduction in mortality. So I’m kickstarting my September stories with a list of feel good intentions!

Do you love a list? I looove mine.

I keep special notebooks just for them, with pretty pastel covers and silky, smooth paper. I even have special pens* to write on them. Kept inside a special, slim, white case. I take great pleasure in sitting down at the coffee shop and take time to magically get my life sorted by writing down.

It gets worse.

Having left my pen case at home the other day I made a (not so small) detour specially to pop into a stationery shop and purchase suitable replacement pens. God forbid I have to make an important note (think “book MOT”) and I must resort to borrowing a sad biro from a random stranger.

Ladies, lists are also a trap. When you go down the rabbit hole of obsessing over unfinished business, it springs to mind that scene on “I Don’t Know How She Does It”; she’s there lying in bed at night and there’s that animated To Do List franticly dancing over her head.

Which is why I’ve chosen to name this one a Could-Do List. As in “it would be really nice to tick all the boxes but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t”.

Also.Here’s a silly, pointless video of myself.

That Fitster - Because I’m Happy! - YouTube

So here they are. A collection of good intentions. Inspiration for a better life that will not get in the way of actually living it. 1. Get the kids into daily probiotics.

I’m a firm believer in preventative medicine and that means topping up the good bacteria colonies in your gut.  Thus minimizing number of sick days so no skipping workouts to tend to child’s wellbeing (#GoodMum vs. #BadMum ?).

Number 3 still thinks it’s disgusting and ends up squashing the little pill between her fingers every time she announces she’s willing to “give it a go”. At least the other two think it’s very grown up to take pills for breakfast. Half full, people.

2. Try a new fitness class.

I need to shake things up this September and have come to sadly realise that not all the best studios are on my doorstep (how unfair is that?). So I’m actually willing to leave the square mile and commute for sweat. On top of my list are BoomCycle and Re: Mind. Who’s coming with? Who’s been already?

3. Talk more, text less.

It’s too easy to just fire messages away. And yes, sometimes it’s just what you need. What about when you don’t have anything specific to say? You just want to hear the others’ voice and make pointless chat, digress?

Mind you, this does not include more Face Time (who else thinks FT is hard work?). Frankly, no-one needs to be reminded of that horrible spot on their forehead.

4. Restart my meditation practice.

The word restart here is used relatively loosely as it implies that I’ve actually done it before.

Well I have, just not consistently (read about what happened at my first mediation class here). Since mornings are war zone, I’m starting with 5 minutes on the bolster in the evenings. Apply a bit of your favourite relaxing body oil (I love this one by Neom), pop some quiet music on and focus on your breathing.

5. To not skip kids’ bedtime reading.

When you’re already knackered after a whole days work it’s too tempting to just say “it’s really late” (in my defence, it usually is). So as part of my #GoodMum mission this is one for the list.

Note to self: purchase children’s books that I actually enjoy reading. Which would mean anything from Emily Hughes, like this one: Everything You Need For a Treehouse. Dreamy pictures that speak a million words.

The kids book for the grown ups who love pictures 6. More doodling and calligraphy.

I’ve read that it’s great to do something with total abandon just for the fun of it, which immediately resonated (!). If you’re curious about modern calligraphy I highly recommend one of Imogen Owen’s beginners workshops, I went once and it was just the thing I needed. Do more of what you love.

Does not include eating the a whole pack of mini mars bars kept for kids emergencies (what kind of mother would do that?).

More Emily Hughes. Magical.

Do you have a September To Do List? What’s in there? Please comment on the section below, I love hearing from you!

With love,

Catarina xo

* If you’re wondering, this is my favourite To Do List pen  (I get it in packs of 10!).

The post My Feel Good September Could-Do List! appeared first on That Fitster Blog.

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What do you do when you’ve committed to join a group run but… haven’t worn your running shoes for months?

Option 1: U turn; that gastropub you walked past smelled delicious (probably the double cooked chips)

Option 2: Lie. Twisted ankle. Period pains. Broken heart.

Option 3: Blend in. Hope for the best.

Me? You can probably make a wild guess. What is it they say? Fake it till you make it.

On that note:

It’s the first FitBit City Run and I’ve got this!

(Or do I?)

Starting line: Tower Bridge.

Meet the legend: Greg Whyte.

Can I just start by saying how amazing it is that I got a chance to listen to this guy? The FitBit Ambassador and Olympian in modern pentathlon Professor Greg Whyte gave a Q&A before the run and man, does he know his stuff; it was mind blowing. We talked carbs before a workout, toughest challenges and the biggest fitness mistake he sees people do (more on this later).

With the legend himself – soz for the very sweaty pic

The crowd was pretty diverse – phew, what a relief. Not everyone looks like a personal trainer, 8-pack and glutes of steel included. Bonus: we’re all wearing the same FitBit tees. Maybe I’ll get to blend in after all?

The geek kit: FitBit Ionic

Remember when James Bond meets Q for a top up of the bestest, most bad-ass gadgets to help save the world/girl/suitcase full of secret agents lists? It’s like that, only we’re all wearing lycra.

Doesn’t it look super clever?

The crowd of keen city runners are fitted with the Fitbit Ionic. With this baby on my wrist I almost feel like Wonder Woman. Now let’s take it on a test drive…

City Run, here we go!

Covering all the main City landmarks, we went up, down and across the Thames, dodging commuters, waving and shouting “Fit-Bit-RUUUUN!!!” to please the crowds! Stopping by a green area overlooking Tower Bridge, our team of running wizards (significantly sweatier than 20 minutes ago) took a break to check in with our FitBits and squeeze in a full body Adidas 10 minute workout, led by Greg-the-master-Whyte.

On the run the way back we even passed by the glorious Golden Hind Pirate Ship, which I had never actually seen in my 10+ years of living in London – talking about sightseeing meets getting stronger!

Brownie points if you can spot me… These are the 5 things coming out of my City Run with FitBit:

1. Running is not just about running. Mix up your training to strengthen your core and legs to avoid injuries and max out your performance (did I just say that?). Those people running like they’re looking for the missing keys on the floor? Not a good look.

This is what saved me, actually. Even though I had not run for months, the fact that had been doing my regular Reformer Pilates classes, TRX and spin meant I did hit the ground running and was not (always…) at the back. My legs still remembered that 6k run for days though…

2. It’s a lot easier to run as part of a group. Just chase the guy in the front. Chat to the girl next to you. If everyone else is doing it, then you can do it too (really, she says?)…. Note to self: do more of it!

3. However. It’s a lot harder to run when you’re constantly racing past pubs. That smell of chips. Burgers. Hot buns. Pit stop, anyone?

4. Take your REST seriously. The mistake Greg sees more often when getting ready for any fitness challenge is instead of giving your body a break at the right times, you just keep pushing and end up burned out before you even start! This includes lighter (not tougher) training sessions just before the big day and (you’re going to love this one) making time for quality sleep.

5. Break it up for extra fun. I used to face my jog as get in, get it done, get out. I’ve realised that if you have a proper break halfway through and squeeze in a mini workout time flies by quicker.

That’s where the Fitbit Ionic is so brilliant. It comes lots of exclusive Adidas workouts which you can follow on a proper-sized screen. Just pick a 10 minute sesh, follow the easy instructions and BOOM! That’s on top of doing everything else FitBit has already got us used to, like clever tracking of your daily steps, workout burn, heart rate, distance and delivering perfectly baked scones.

For the amateur athlete, the main take away from today is to mix it up. If you’re out of ideas, don’t know where to start or keep repeating the same routines, well, something like the FitiBit Ionic really can be the missing piece of the puzzle.

Now, did someone mention chips, burger and hot buns?

For all the details on the FitBit Ionic, check here. And if you’d like master expert tips on how to get more value from your sleep, check out In Bed With Carly Rowena and The Sleep Coach ;).

Sending you lots of love good people! Get out and jog.

Catarina xo

The post 5 Things I’ve learned on my City Run with FitBit Ionic! appeared first on That Fitster Blog.

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I crashed a party #livingdangerously .

It was all too good to be missed. A brilliant book, bubbly, yummy food and a bunch of awesome ladies. The perfect night out, right?

By night out I mean back home in Pjs by 10pm #livingdangerously.

The party: Shelf Help by Toni Jones presents Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley!

Toni, Melissa and Mr Toni having a blast!

Shelf Help is a new breed of book club, dedicated to self-help and self-development. Founded by freelance writer and modern nomad Toni Jones, this lady has amassed quite the credentials, whose work has been featured in The Telegraph, The Times, The Daily Mail, The Evening Standard, Grazia, InStyle, Stella, BBC, The Huffington Post, The New York Post just to name a few. Her book club could only be a good idea.

She’s so awesome that although we had only met IRL a couple of times before (involving leggings and sweaty workouts), Toni was kind enough to allow me to crash her party. I guess she was confident that I wouldn’t show up in lycra this time.

Behind the scenes

For the record, I even put some makeup on – woo hoo!

This evening wasn’t about just any book (as if). It was a cookbook. In fact, the first cookbook ever to be featured in Shelf Help. And I can see why Toni picked it. “Eat Happy” by Melissa Hemsley aka happy-cook/fairy-with-the-best-dresses-in-the-business is one of my favourite healthy cookbooks and that’s saying a lot. You only need to glance at my overflowing bookshelves and non-Insta worthy book stacks magically multiplying on every corner of the living room to know that if a book makes it to the top of the pile it’s a real winner.

“They said best case scenario Eat Happy would make it to the top of Amazon’s Healthy Food books category. But vegetables are mainstream, right?” said Melissa.

Guess what. The girl was right. It made it to the top. Like top, TOP. 

Melissa Hemsley is a best selling healthy food author and hands down one of the most honest, candid food celebrities I’ve had a chance to meet. She also gives these amazing warm hugs. Eat Happy is her first solo book and frankly, I think it’s her best so far.  Packed with easy, delicious recipes, it’s an every day healthy food bible that hardly ever leaves my kitchen worktop – butter and chocolate stains all over included.

The room was packed. Delicious canapes featuring recipes from Eat Happy were served and Toni and Melissa were getting (more or less) comfortable on their stools and we can sense that getting-ready-for-action meets giggling-girlfriends kinda vibe.

We talked healthy food, army mums and how we’re all just wiggin’ it. And had lots of fun along the way. 

That Fitster goes to Shelf help feat Melissa Hemsley - YouTube

Ladies, read this way for precious gems of wisdom for the modern girl.

1. We should never have to choose between feel good and flavour – we can have both. Note: buy the book.

2. Melissa actually knows the price of a cabbage. I don’t. Should I? 

3. She was once asked to leave an Open University course on Shakespeare. Never having completed an official University degree, Melissa has made her way up the food chain on the back of hard work and passion. There’s hope for the rest of us.

4. She’s also trying to do away with perfection (phew). Tips to deal with anxiety: positive self-talk and writing things down. Also, getting an induction oven (doesn’t have to worry about leaving the cooker on any more). As a happy induction oven owner, I can totally vouch for this one.

Even if I felt like crying when the gas engineer declared he had to switch of my old cooker on accounts of a gas leak and I had nowhere to cook my scrambled eggs for days.

5. I’m not the only one obsessed with forgetting my passport before getting on the taxi on my way to the airport.

6. How to switch off: walk your dog. Cook chicken broth. Don’t worry about the to-do list. Don’t worry about the new book (if applicable). Switch of your phone.

7. A beautiful goal: to connect more. In this day and age of messaging services galore, it feels good to just call someone.

As I left the beautiful Soho House in Chiswick at the end of the evening, everything slightly blurry on account of that pretty pink wine, my heart was full:

Warm Melissa hug – check.

Connecting with likeminded creatures –check.

Notebook filled with feel good life tips – double check.

Still don’t know the price of cabbage. But hey, I’m happy to be a work in progress.

Check the next Shelf Help events – there’s a new exciting book featured each month and even if self-help is not your thing you’ll still get a chance to hang out with Toni and other awesome souls. I may see you there!

With love,

Catarina xo

Ps. Find out another one of my favourite healthy cookbook authors here: Health and Fitness chat: 10 Questions with Nutritionist Alice Mackintosh

The post Life and chicken broth- Shelf Help presents”Eat Happy” by Melissa Hemsley appeared first on That Fitster Blog.

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This is a story about a magic potion and taboos.

It was the evening of the hottest day of the year. We were sipping white wine and tasting yummy canapes at one of the most beautiful venues in Covent Garden. Beautiful floaty dresses were worn with matching high heels at the Covent Garden hotel event.

You would never guess we were all there to discuss what goes on in the depths of our gut.

That’s right everyone, the gut has gone mainstream and we’re not afraid to say the word: poo.

According to top gut health expert Eve Kalinik, there’s no such thing as TMI (that’s Too Much Information in case you’re wondering – I had to google it too).

This is the opening event of the Gut Conversations. On a mission to create a healthier life, one gut at a time. The awesome panel!

The experts were top notch: Dr Rangan Chatterjee, star of BBC’s Doctor in The House, Simon Gaisford Professor at UCL School of Pharmacy and nutritional therapist and all-round awesome girl Eve Kalinik . Basically your ordinary evening out ;).

They came out to debunk the myths involving the gut, to highlight the importance of a healthy microbiome and how the next generation of probiotics can change your life. And they were good fun too.

The magic potion I was telling you about? It has a name: Symprove.

This is pure health, bottled. The sponsors of the Gut Conversations have developed the best probiotic on the planet. I talk from first-hand experience, people. Armed with scientific evidence, these guys have developed something magic. It works like no other probiotic and it has the powers to change your life. More on that later.

You probably already know about my gut obsession from previous stories. Nurturing a healthy gut has an impact on your whole body and mind. If you’re on a journey towards a healthier you, this should be your first priority.

Gut is cool. Toilet habits are normal. After all, we all do it, right?

I’m a sucker for science-based evidence and these are the 7 key nuggets of gut wisdom I have learned this evening:

1. The scientific community is only starting to explore the role of the gut. But what we know is enough. And what we do know is that it’s key to a healthy, long life. Start acting now.

2. A healthy gut can help prevent some of the scariest “modern” diseases out there. This includes Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

3. Having a healthy gut is not complicated. Get your food right first. Then consider to top it up with quality probiotics.

4. Simple foods make great prebiotics: think leeks, onions, artichokes and garlic. Most of them you can get from your local Tesco’s, so there are no excuses to starve the good bacteria.

5. Aim for 5 different colours of vegetables a day. Dr. xx even keeps a rainbow chart in the kitchen for his kids – how cool is that?

6. Diversity is underrated. Variety is the name of the game when it comes to the species of bacteria that live in your gut.

7. Quality probiotics are key when it comes to repopulate your gut. For me, Symprove is the best probiotic in the world. For some people it really is life changing.

Ladies, if you do only one new thing this month to improve your health, I recommend trying Symprove. I’m not going to give you all the science (boring) but you can find out all about here. It simply works. And just to be 100% clear, I am not getting paid to say this, it’s as always just my true, honest opinion.

Top tip: go for the Mango and Passion fruit flavour, which is slightly more palatable…

Curious? Just send me your questions on the comments box below – don’t be shy. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Hope this has inspired you to get cosy with your gut and start looking after it a bit more – it will truly love you right back, darlings.

Hungry for more? Check more gut health stories here: 9 Expert Healthy Gut Tips At Neom Kings Road !

Catarina xo

The post Gut Conversations And The Best Probiotic On The Planet appeared first on That Fitster Blog.

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