Paradise beach – the name says it all

After getting lost in the streets of Mykonos and watching the most perfect sunset I’ve ever seen in my 27 years Dom and I were ready for a chill out day to put our feet up, cool off in the ocean and personally, I needed to shake off the jet lag that had finally set in my whirlwind ‘Wellington – Auckland – Shanghai – London – Athens – Mykonos’ 3 day odyssey. To earn our rest, we got up at 7am to walk around the waterfront, beating the crowds and the heat of the sun. We walked around to the old port and found more beautiful views, the most delicious bakery and how the other half live – the super yachts parked in the port were next level. I could probably afford one of the door handles! I love walking around new cities – its a great way to get off the tourist track, find some hidden gems and get some exercise. 

After showering and eating our delicious breakfast – fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt and the BEST thing i have ever eaten from a bakery, a cheesy, pancetta flat bread that was still warm – we caught a bus into town to Paraga beach were new friends of our were staying. This was the situation at their hostel:   WARNING: parts of Paraga beach and paradise beach are nudie beaches!! People don’t tell you these things and all of a sudden there is a stark naked leathery Greek man with his junk out straight ahead and it’s awkward as….it was awful!! After successfully navigating through the sea of nudies, we set ourselves up on the beach to read, swim and catch some rays (yes mum I wore my sunscreen!). We also went for a quick hike to the highest point we could find to get a view of the beach – it was stunning!!

 And had a few cheeky selfies while we were up there  

 After a fair bit of sun bathing, reading and dips in the sea/ pool we headed to paradise beach for a few cocktails and whatnot. Paradise beach is only a 5min walk away from Paraga beach so we literally went straight from beach to club haha. I was a sunscreen covered hot mess but I didn’t care, I just wanted a fruity cocktail in and around my mouth stat! The first bar we walked past we were offered free shots and a free bucket (?!!) of alcohol – SOLD! This club also had a strange Zumba party going on – Mykonos you are cray cray. After too many shots and buckets of alcohol we were all eventually up on the stage getting our dance on!

   We didn’t have a massive night in Mykonos, mostly because we had a morning ferry to Paros the next morning – who wants to be hungover on a boat…not me! Two of our new friends got home at 5am and had to be packed up and at the port at 8am – I think the whole ferry felt so sooo sorry for these chickies, there were 2 very green babes and we all learnt from their lesson not to drink the night before a ferry crossing!

Mykonos – you wee gem!

After exploring Athens all day I was relived to check into my air conditioned, wifi’d hostel – Athens Style. Our room was super luxurious compared to my prison cell the night before (I a seperate hostel). I’ve quickly come to appreciate the small things hostel surfing!

Athens Style was the recommended accommodation for the busabout Greek island hoping package as we were leaving from the foyer at 5.30am the next day. They also threw an optional meet and greet in the hostel bar the night before we departed so we could meet our guide (Danielle, whose equal parts awesome, knowledgeable and funny – we win having her as a guide!) and the other travellers on the tour. This was a great opportunity to meet the friendly faces we would be spending the next few days with*   

View from the hostel roof bar 

(*we chose Busabout because it’s a very flexible tour – with the island hoping package you go to Mykonos, Paros, Santorini and Ios and your ferry and transfers are all included but you book your accomodation and decide how long you want to stay on each island. The standard is 2 nights on each which is what we are doing but we realised lots of people mix it up – 2 nights Míkonos and Paros, 4 nights Santorini and 6 nights in ios (you poor poor souls). Because of the flexibility you don’t have the same group the whole way through or guide if you do more than 2 nights on an island.)

That night I had my first gyros – this quickly escalated to a daily habit…oops    

 Fast forward to 5.30am Wednesday morning…we were on the bus to our ferry to Mykonos. I was expecting an East by West kinda ferry but this was an Interislander and was more like a small cruise ship! We had packed snacks (duh!) but there was about 5 cafes on board, big leather chairs and TVs throughout the boat. The ferry stopped at 2 smaller islands before Mykonos and they both looked absolutely idilic  When we finally got to Mykonos (about 5 hours later) we checked into our hostel and headed straight out to find some lunch and scenic treasures. The blue doors and shutters, red domes on churches, cafes on the waters edge, small cobblestones streets you can get lost in, vibrant flowers and bushes snaking up white abodes, wicker windmills and cats drunk on the sun lazing in doorways…I was in a Mamma Mia heaven!!! 

 I spent hours and hours roaming the streets of little Venice – taking in the waterfront, the windmills, the great shopping, and smells of good food and sounds of locals probably just chatting about the weather but sounding like a passionate lovers tiff.    That night we went for a group dinner – Dinner = 2/5. The place was great but it seemed like token, tourist Greek instead of the taste bombs I was expecting and have since had. I also found it overpriced and quantity over quality. There are so many amazing looking restaurants in Mykonos I was pissed to waste a meal on not yumminess. But the company was great. We then walked down to the windmills watch the sunset and woah – talk about natural beauty! I can honestly say the pictures don’t do the colours justice and I had to take a minute to soak it in a say to myself ‘don’t worry about the perfect picture, this is perfection right in front of me’.  

Geeking out in Greece

I arrived in London late Sunday night and was waited on hand and foot by my amazing friends Anna and Jono who had dinner, wine and lots of cuddles waiting. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed (more on this later) that I was finally in my new city but before I press play on London life I smashed the pause button on life and jumped on a plane to Athens on Monday night to start a 7 week adventure around Europe. I managed to avoid the tube for my whole first day in London and caught a cab to Heathrow for £35 which was money well spent to a) avoid the tube again and b) make sure I got to the airport on time. 

Because of the time difference between London and Athens I arrived at 3.10am! Turns out Leah and Jason had taken the same flight when they visited Greece and gave me the heads up the cab to our hostel would be €60+. The thriftiness in me kicked in and I quickly explored to see if there was a cheaper way to get into town. Turns out there is a bus running 24/7 into the city centre for €5! Do I fork out for a cab and get dropped door to door or get on a bus in the middle of the night with a non English speaking driver and see how I go? I went with the cheaper option (sorry mum). Turns out it was totally fine – i was dropped a 5 min taxi ride from the hostel and it took about the same amount of time as a cab as there aren’t many stops along the way at 4am!

My hostel was a shock – it was actuallay like a prison cell. A tiny single bed with only a sheet, a cupboard and a sink in the corner. Being my very first experience in a hostel I started to worry that this would be the common decore for the next 7 weeks but I’ve already been proven wrong! The room was clean, I had a place to snooze for 4 hours and a hot shower in the morning so I can’t complain too much – but for $60 nzd for a prison cell for 4 hours rest – who cares?! I’m in Athens!!! And this was the view from the balcony I got up at 8am the next day to shower and start my Athen adventure. I wanted to beat the crowds and cruise tours at the Acropolis and other famous monuments and the heat of the day!! It was only a 15 walk to the Acropolis entrance – the #1 reason I booked my hostel was the location. 

When I got to the top of the hill I was fizzing at the bum with excitement to be so close to these amazing architectural achievements  that I had studied at school and university. I now wish I had hired a tour guide because the bits and bobs of information I overhead was super interesting but I picked a lot of info up at the museum. Back to the Acropolis, I marvelled at how these building have stood for so many years and was angered to think they were beaten up so bad in times of war and sadden to think beautiful buildings and countrysides are still being blown to bits right now. It just makes me want to see as much as I can before Mother Nature and/or human kind wipe out these sites for good and the only way to experience them is in the pages of books (or worse…websites!)

After the Acropolis I headed down the other side of the hill to the new Acropolis museum which was AWESOME!! Fact: parts of the Parthenon were stolen by an Englishman back in ages ago and taken back to England. They were sold for a few £ to the British museum where they are still housed today. When Greece asked for them back Britain said ‘well it’s not like you have anywhere to display them!’ So Greece built their fancy pants new Acropolis museum! (PS the British museum still have the artefacts). 

I was a total geek – taking my time to look at every artifact, trying to guess the scenes depicted in the ancient vases, plates and statues – Miss Spears, my high school classics teacher would’ve been proud! I don’t want to bore you all day with what you can see and learn at this museum – just promise me you’ll go there yourself! 

After the museum (which now had a line out the door, down the drive and around the corner in the heat of the sun – get there early people!) I followed my nose to a number of other amazing famous monuments including the Panathenaic Stadium, the stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games (and the only Olympic stadium I’ve set foot in!), Parliament House, temple of Olympian Zeus and also saw the changing of the guard which was pretty special – those guys must be soooooo hot in that get up!

I retired back to the hostel at about 3.30pm – having walked about 24,000 steps in the day, sweated approximately 5L of water and a full heart and mind. Dominique arrived from Dubai at 4.30pm and that night we met our busabout tour group who we will be bouncing around the Greek Islands with from tomorrow. 

Thank you Athens for being such a great start to our adventure – you were everything I dreamed and more 



Getting back into the zone 

Been a bit quiet on the old blog lately, few things going on, new training schedule to adjust to, new job, family things and a few holidays here and there, meaning the blog has taken a bit of a back seat. To be honest with the end of the crossfit open (a while ago!) I have been struggling with what my training goals are and haven’t had any direction, which tends to throw my training and nutrition mentality off completely. I eat whatever, and don’t have my usual drive in training.

When I have clear goals and a clear end game it makes ‘the grind’ all worth it. Don’t get me wrong, 90% of the time I love training and want to be there more than doing other things, but on those days when I ‘just can’t be bothered’ it’s my goals and the ‘why’ that get me there. And lately, there has been more and more of the ‘just can’t be bothered days’. With this lack of drive for training has come less than optimal nutrition, which then leads to average performance in training when I am there (less energy, motivation etc). It’s a vicious cycle!

I now have some clearer goals training wise and am feeling more motivated, but my nutrition has been all over the show (letting those ‘sometimes’ foods creep in much more than sometimes!).

At the end of last year I had some really good success with ‘The Zone’ eating plan. And, after a message today (kick up the bum!) from Emma from Embracing it, we decided to support each other in starting on the zone.

I have said to myself a few times over the last couple of weeks ‘ok, today is the day, back on track now’ and then gone back to less than ideal eating rather quickly. Somehow there is something about saying it out loud to someone other than yourself (hi everyone!) that makes it a lot more real.

We both have different reasons for wanting to get back on track. Mine being to have more energy to support my training and lose a bit of weight to make gymnastics movements easier and try and drop weight classes for weight lifting. Emma wants to support her training as well eating within the guidelines of her food intolerances to balance her hormones.

Emma and I decided that by doing it together and sharing our stories with you all, this could be the catalyst to keep us on track. And, hey, maybe some of you will even join us too?!

So, apologies in advance for a whole heap of food/meal posts and pictures (yes, more than usual). But that goes both ways, if you do want to join us, please share your pictures with us too – we love seeing your creations!

Emma and I will take before photographs and measurements to monitor our progress. We know it wont be easy, but Emma and I will share how we’re going as we commit for the next month – I’ll be ready to weigh in underweight at my competition and Emma will be treating her body as a temple and looking hot for her engagement party in a month!

Find Emma on facebook here:


Thirsty Thursday – green smoothie and chia seed pudding

In this edition of thirsty Thursday we have classic green smoothie that doubles as a green chia seed pudding.

Green smoothie:

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • Berries (optional)

Blend all ingredients and serve.

Chia seed pudding:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of chia seeds 
  • 1 mason jar 

Fill 3/4 mason jar with smoothie and add chia seeds. Shake well. Place in fridge for 10 mins then shake well again. The key to this is good shaking or the chia seeds go clumpy!

Leave for a few hours then serve. 

This looks like green sludge by the way. But tastes amazing! 

Enjoy 🙂


No Junk Food Challenge – Junk Food Free April

Are you reliant on chocolate to get through the afternoon?

Is your fall back plan for lunch when you are crazy busy a coffee and muffin or pastry?

Do you eat pretty healthy but have found yourself mindlessly snacking on or saying “just this last time” to offers of junk food more and more?

Are you up for a challenge for April?

Back by popular demand, the Kettlebells and Cookies Junk Food Free Challenge!

 This challenge is for anyone and everyone. For some it may be just what you need to clean up the last 10% of your diet and be really very honest with yourself for a month.
For others it will be a complete overhaul of your current diet and daily challenge but just imagine how amazing you will feel 30 days from now having beat your cravings and broken the sugar addiction.
And for those who would find this so easy and not a challenge at all, then I ask you to please join in the challenge and support those with hints, tips and strategies of how you cope with cravings and what yummy substitutes to junk food you keep in hand.Just a quick note on the food you cut out for April…please feel free to tailor the challenge specifically to you! Choose foods you will cut out based on what will be challenging but not unachievable or unenjoyable. The main goal here is health and you know what your challenges are when it comes to eating those ‘not so healthy’ treats.

Take Laura’s mum for example. She told us during our August challenge she was onboard for the challenge but wasn’t cutting out muffins. Every Saturday morning she goes for go for a walk and finishes at a local cafe for coffee and a muffin. She loves this tradition and looks forward to her weekly muffin. She doesn’t pick/snack/mindlessly eat muffins so she doesn’t need to focus on breaking any muffin related habits. Bread and chippies on the other hand…you get the picture. Everyone has their own challenges.

So please chop and change the foods to a list that will challenge you and change you.
We would love to hear what foods you have picked to cut out. What do you think the number 1 cut out food would be?

Join Team Kettlebells and Cookies and be part of a closed group that’s full of support, motivation and suggestions on how to smash this challenge.

Thirsty Thursday – Coffee choconana

In the next edition of ‘Thirsty Thursday’ we have an iced coffee, banana, choc smoothie.

Super easy to make:

  • 1-2 Nespresso shots (or 1/2 cup of other coffee, plunger, instant etc)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of milk or water
  • scoop of choc protein
  • 1 tsp cocoa
  • 1 banana
  • a handful of ice

Blend and serve.

Made this one in a pretty mason jar – just for the pretty picture 🙂



Top 5 eats and treats

With the Wellington wine and food festival coming this weekend, we thought what a great opportunity to cover off our Top 5 ‘eats and treats’!

Top 5 eats:

Here at kettlebellsandcookies we are HUGE brunch fans. Brunch is that meal you can eat anytime between 5am – 4pm.. yes truly. Here are our favourites:

1. Poneke café underneath the new overseas terminal apartment complex. This is a ‘Mojo’ cafe with a twist. This is a *must try* if you haven’t already been there.

Pros: The menu is extensive! Favourites are the coconut chia (dairy free!) and the mince on toast (which is actually pulled beef!). The service is great and the location is fantastic for a stroll around the waterfront after.  They are also open till late and have a great tapa’s and drinks menu! Also, free sparkling water!

Cons: No wifi.

Kettlebells and cookies brunch at Poneke cafe

Kettlebells and cookies brunch at Poneke cafe

on Cuba st. Great food, atmosphere and they let you stay for hours without angry ‘you’re taking up a table’ looks.

Pros: Free unlimited wifi and central location.

Cons: Parking is difficult.


3. Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay. Cliche, but everyone knows this is one of the absolute best places for food in Wellington. It is busy at ALL times, no matter what time or day.

Pros: Food, service, atmosphere, the view…. too many to list!

Cons: The queues out the door (but it moves pretty quickly).


4. Sieze cafe– not *just* for brunch, this is an anytime of the day place. Full of whole food goodness, there is really an untapped market in Wellington for this type of food and Sieze is making the most of it!

Pros: People are still learning about this treasure so wait times are short. Our fav is the rasberry maca smoothie!

Cons: Hard to fault Seize – maybe that parking is difficult as its central city. But not an issue if you are working in Wellington CBD.


5. Garage cafe in Upper Hutt (no judging)– we were seconded to a project in Upper Hutt for 2 years so we know this place well. The wait times are short, the coffee is great and the service is second to none – the awesome girls behind the counter will know your usual order within a few visits.

Pros: Frequent free tasters of slices and muffins and cabinets packed full of childhood favourites.

Cons: It’s in Upper Hutt.


Top 5 treats:

And for your more indulgent side, here are the top 5 favourite treats from our archives:

1. Snicker balls
2. Chocolate!
3. Clean Chocolate Mousse
4. Nut butter muffins
5. Peanut butter and Jelly slice

Chocolate peanut butter and jelly slice

Chocolate peanut butter and jelly slice

What are your favourite eats and treats?  We would love to hear about them!

Jane and Laura x

Thirsty Thursday – Choc berry 

Here at kettlebellsandcookies we love smoothies and make them on a regular basis. Over the next wee while we will bring you a series called ‘Thirtsy Thursday’ – this will highlight our favourite smoothie/shake combinations and give you the recipes to refer to yourselves to make at a later date.

Take it away, shake number 1…

Choc-berry shake. Pretty much my all time go to snack, breakfast, in-a-rush and ‘need to eat something now’ food.

So simple:

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 TBSP coconut yoghurt 
  • 1/2 cup berries 
  • 1/2 cup ice

Blend and serve.

We would love to see your re-creations of our shakes, or your own shake creations! 

Hashtag #thirstythursday and #kettlebellsandcookies on Instagram, facebook or Twitter and we will keep an eye out for your pics. 


Jane and Laura x 

In the Zone…

Nutrition can be a touchy topic, like politics or religion, that people take very personally, but good nutrition is the foundation not only for general health but also for high-performance fitness.

In 2014 I sat my Level 1 CrossFit Certificate. This allowed me to help out my sis and her business partner by coaching at their gym, FRF Crossfit (which I am really enjoying!), as well as learn a bit more about the thing that I spend a lot of my spare time doing. As part of your Level 1 certificate you learn about the definition of fitness, the 9 foundation movements in CrossFit, the sick-well-fit continuum and many other things including the CrossFit take on nutrition.

Those who do CrossFit have generally heard of the ‘eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar’ tag line which is most often associated with the Paleo ‘diet’.

eat meat nuts

It’s funny, as quite soon after people know I do CrossFit, I quickly get the question “Oh, you must eat Paleo then?”. Well no, I don’t. And, does it really matter? I eat food.  All kinds of food, depending on what I feel like. Yes for the most part I guess it could be categorised as ‘Paleo’ or ‘whole 30’ or ‘clean’ but I also eat dairy and sometimes I eat lollies.  Yes, lollies.  And they are yum. Oh, and sometimes I drink wine. Everything in moderation…

As I have said before, I have tried out many different things with my nutrition, including being strict paleo, cutting sugar, cutting alcohol, IIFYM and most recently, delaying breakfast till later in the day (more on this later..).

What was my point… um, oh yea, on the CrossFit Level 1 cert you learn about the Crossfit nutrition philosophy which primarily promotes the ‘Zone’ diet. The Zone diet is primarily concerned with controlling your hormones.  Hormonal balance affects all important components of your wellness: body composition, energy utilisation, blood chemistry, and much more. Zone advocates that with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats, you can control three major hormones generated by the human diet – insulin, glucagon and eicosanoids. If you are interested in the science behind it, you can read heaps more about ‘The Zone’.

To put it simply the zone breaks food into blocks, based on the macronutrient content of food.  You get assigned a certain number of blocks per day based on your lean body mass and how active you are.

1 block of protein = 7g
1 block of carbohydrate = 9g
1 block of fat = 1.5g

You should start out by weighing and measuring food so you get an idea of what a block is. I followed this pretty loosely (don’t follow my example!) – over the years I have counted calories, tried different macro breakdowns etc so this wasn’t new for me, it was just a different ratio of macros.  For the most part I made up my meals and snacks of ‘clean’ food and just played around with the size of my meals and snacks to find how many blocks I felt I needed at times throughout the day.

I was on 11 blocks a day and what I found worked best for me was typically:

2 block breakfast
1 block morning snack
2 block lunch

Then I had 6 blocks to play with which usually consisted of a 2-3 block snack before training and then 3-4 blocks left for dinner (or a snack during training).

This might look something like this:

Breakfast: Shake made up of some combination of: berries and milk (carb), protein powder and/or eggs (protein) and coconut milk or yoghurt (fat)

Lunch: Chicken (protein), kumara and leafy greens (carb) and almonds or feta/avo (fat)

Dinner: Meat (protein), veges, including kumara or rice (carb) and coconut oil or olive oil for cooking/ salad dressing depending on the vege I am having.

Snacks: Yoghurt (carb and protein) with some nuts (fat), peach (carb) and protein bar (fat and protein)… etc.

I started following zone at the end of November, which being over the holiday season is always going to be a fun challenge.

I tracked my weight and measurements over this time, and the results are below. Note, I was far from strict. I would say I followed this 90% of the time? Eg: Christmas and New Years completely not zone!

Date started: 23/11/2014 – 20/02/2015 (approx. 2 months). Note, I lost most of the weight in the first 2-3 weeks then maintained it till now.

Bust -2cm
Waist -3cm
Hips -3cm
Legs -2cm (each)
Arms -1cm (each)
Weight -3.4kg

These results could have been because of Zone, could have been that I was on holiday (read more sleeping and less stress/pressure), more training, more active time (yay summer and swimming), less time sitting down…. Or a combination of all.  Hard to say – but I’ll take it, and it was an interesting thing to try.   I definitely learned a thing or two that I will continue moving forward.  They are:

More well-rounded meals/snacks.

Previously I would have an apple or a protein shake as a snack, now I try to make sure I am having protein, carbs and fat (see snack examples above).

MORE carbs and less protein! Fat was about right.

I wasn’t eating nearly enough carbs.  Well, according to the zone prescription. Turns out my body likes carbs!

Eg: Dinner for me used to be some sort of protein, with a huge salad or a whole heap of green veges with some nuts or avocado.  Um, there aren’t many carbs in salad or veges!  You would have to eat a bucket full to get the same amount as eating ½ cup of kumara.  I am now much more conscious to add carbs into all of my meals and snacks.  Sometimes this means eating baby food or some fruit/yoghurt after my meal to get my carb count up.

Have you tried Zone? Would love to hear how you found it and what your go to snacks and meals are.