The nutrition journey – part 2

This is Part 2 – read about ‘Part 1’ here if you haven’t already.

I think far too many people see the solution to ‘being healthy and losing weight’ as going to the gym/running/exercising in some form. Yes, it definitely plays a part, but nutrition has a far greater part to play in being healthy and losing weight (if that’s your goal). Going to the gym is always going to be beneficial, but unless your nutrition is up to scratch, you are better to take some time to have a look at that and add in some movement later if you are new to ‘working out’. 30 mins walking a day with great nutrition is going to be FAR better for you than working out intensely every morning at the gym for an hour then letting yourself have a chocolate bar at 3pm and/or treating yourself to dessert because you were good and went to the gym that morning. Food first, movement later.

So what does it mean to have your nutrition ‘up to scratch’? Well here’s where the water gets a bit murky. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Genetics, hormones, lifestyle and goals all play a part, and a lot of it is trial and error for you as an individual.

This is something I personally have been working on and trying to figure out what works for me. Factoring in my training goals and what I need to eat to have enough energy to increase strength and lose a bit of size (fat!) as I mentioned in my previous goals post.

It’s a fine balance and it’s definitely still a work in progress. Over the past year or so I have experimented a bit with my nutrition to find what works best for me depending on my training. I have been through phases of high protein, moderate fat and minimal carbs, I have cut out grains, I have cut out dairy, I have been fully paleo etc and through all of this I have finally found what seems to be working. My weight is slowly going down (slower than I would like but I know that is sustainable), my strength numbers are going up and I’m recovering from training fast and starting to feel fit (just starting conditioning phase now). That’s all I can ask for and as long as I’m consistent it’s relatively easy (go figure right?!).

I have realised that I feel better when I don’t eat bread, but oats are ok. Dairy and I are friends and I have no issues with having it in my diet. Sugar is a BIG no-go so I try to avoid it. I need to keep my protein intake around 160-180g per day and the rest I can work around that. Depending on my training each day will depend how many carbs I have, ie: if I have a very high intensity met con (huffy puffy workout 🙂 ) and/or a relatively high strength day (eg: when I was doing huge squat days) I increase my carbs for that day whilst still maintaining my protein intake.

Each meal I make sure to have protein, carbs and fat, with the most carbs in the morning  (I generally train in the morning), usually in the form of overnight oats with protein, protein pancakes or a green shake.  I decrease the amount of carbs throughout the day, always choosing wholesome carbs (carrot, broccoli, pumpkin, kumara, oats, sometimes brown rice) and having little to no carbs at dinner unless I happen to train at night that day.  I have 5-6 meals a day and as I mentioned I make sure I get my protein intake and as long as that is covered the other macros don’t seem to matter tooooo much (but generally the fat is less than carbs).  An example of a typical day is shown by the picture from my fitness pal below:


Breakdown of a typical day of my macros


If I feel like a treat I factor it into my macros for the day.  For example for dinner last night I had 2 scoops of protein powder, greek yoghurt, cocoa and 1/2 cup of rasberries all mixed together.  Was it weird? Yes.  Did it taste good and fit my macro count for the day?  YES!  IIFYM baby!!  (“If It Fits Your Macros”).  Obviously I’m not advocating having protein powder for dinner every night, but if you can’t be bothered cooking/get home late, it can be an option 🙂 What you define as ‘normal’ vs ‘weird’ is totally up to you and your frame of reference.

If you are aware of your macros you can build in a few treats here and there (within reason).

If you are aware of your macros you can build in a few treats here and there (within reason).


How did I figure this out? Pure trial and error. I cut things out, and/or adjusted my macros for a month or more at a time to see if I noticed any differences and adjusted accordingly (ask those who were involved as I did this – it really was a journey! And still is). I tracked everything either in a diary or using my fitness pal and went from there. You can’t do analysis unless you have data sets to analyse from (this is the analyst in me coming out! It’s actually pretty interesting to play with).  It does take a bit of time as there are so many variables that aren’t always in your control (sleep, stress etc – another post on this to come) but you learn a lot about yourself and your preferences, as well as becoming a lot more aware of how certain foods make you feel and perform at training etc. It’s like a mini science experiment on yourself.

Have you played around with different macros and noticed differences in your weight, strength or energy levels?  I would love to hear about it! 

Jane xx

Morning Motivators – why that morning workout is good for you in more ways than you may think

You may have read my post earlier on “How to be a morning person” and scoffed that you will never be a morning person and couldn’t dream of getting up before the sun is up.  Well, as a bit of a fan of early mornings, I thought you may find it interesting to learn why you may want to become a morning exerciser and the benefits it has over and above the calorie burn.


1. No excuses – the workout will actually happen! 

How many afternoon or evening workouts get cut short or don’t happen due to phone calls, deadlines, meetings running late or family commitments? Quite a few I bet! Working out in the morning means it’s done, and can’t be interrupted later by things popping up.  This also builds routine and consistency – great if you are someone who finds that ‘life always gets in the way’.


2. Make better food choices

Morning training sessions make it easier to say no to all those naughty foods at the office morning tea as you don’t want to undo all that hard work you put in that morning! Also after a workout your body usually craves nutritionally dense food as opposed to muffins and other sweet treats.


3. Start your day off on a positive 

Working out first thing means you’ll not only feel great all day knowing your workout is done and dusted, you will be more relaxed too.  You have got up and done something that is completely for you and no meeting or deadline can interrupt that.  You also get the rush of endorphins (aka warm fuzzies) that make you a nicer person to be around 🙂 (or is that just me?!).


4. Beat rush-hour at the gym

I don’t know if it is the same at your gym, but at crossfit the morning is definitely quieter than the evening classes (don’t get me wrong there are some SUPER dedicated regulars who are at the 5.30am class come rain, hail or shine!).  This means you usually get your pick of the equipment and where you want to workout.

**The early bird catches the best lifting platform**


(or treadmill or other piece of fav workout gear).


5. Be more productive at work.

It’s funny as people always ask me if I get “tired” from getting up early to do my morning training session. The funny thing is, I am more tired on the days I sleep in and don’t go (eg: rest days).  Exercise increases mental activity for the rest of the day, actually making you more productive at work. Get up, workout and get those brain juices flowing!


What gets you exercising in the morning?

What gets you exercising in the morning?


6.  Feel on top of things from the start of the day! 

Getting your workout done first thing is one less thing you have to factor into your busy schedule and is essentially a “to-do” you have already ticked off.  Knowing that no matter what pops up throughout your day, you have already got your workout done with leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.  That and being one step ahead of others while they fumble around finding their first coffee and figuring out what is on the agenda for the day.


Are you a morning exerciser?  Can you relate to these?  What other benefits are there that I haven’t covered off?

Jane xx

Surprise Surprise!

Running Toys


I have a lot of running toys. 

I usually run with my phone or iPod for music, my Garmin watch for pace/heart rate/cals/cadence/etc and wear a fitbit everyday to track my steps. I love nerding out over all the data these beauties pump out on a daily basis. I love analysing my pace, distance and times to see my progress and putting together a playlist i know will get me through a tough session. My girl Naturally Leah knows what I’m talking about! 

But tonight I simply laced up my shoes and ran. I listened to my breath with ease (instead of completely ignoring it) and was surprised to hear long, low, steady breathes. After a bit it felt natural to kick it up a notch. Tonight I didn’t have a Nike ‘coach’ whisper my current pace and time in my ear every kilometre. Tonight I wasn’t focused on how fast/slow I was running and mentally ranking this run against others and letting the rank dictate my mood before I was anywhere near finished. Tonight I had a clear head and just ran. Tonight I ran the fastest 5km in 3 years.

Clean 5 Ingredient Nut Butter Muffins

These are the easiest and tastiest muffins you’ll ever make. Pink swear!! They are only 5 ingredients and not a morsel of gluten, grain, sugar or dairy in sight*

* These can be plain old nut butter or nut butter and jam flavoured for paleo lovers or swap the berries for dark chocolate if you want a sweet treat.

These are so deliciously smooth and moist (I don’t use that word lightly) because there is no nasty flour to dry them out. I make smaller (cuter) muffins so there is more to go around.

– 1 cup nut butter of your choice
– 2 x small bananas
– 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– your choice of 1/2 cup dark chocolate or boysenberries (optional)

1. Pre heat oven to bake at 180 degree
2. Put first 4 ingredients in a blender and wiz until smooth
3. Stir in your chocolate/berries if you choose
4. Spoon into lined muffin trays/ cups and bake for 18 mins or until knife comes out clean
5. Try not to burn your mouth while you gobble them up

Super Simple Satay Chicken Stir-fry

Looking for something you can easily and quickly throw together for dinner?  Try this chicken satay with only a few simple ingredients.  The whole thing can be made in about 15mins!

What you need:

  • Chicken (approx 150-200g per person)
  • Nut butter of your choice (I use either almond butter or peanut butter)
  • Milk of your choice (I use almond milk or coconut milk.  You can also do half and half with coconut cream to make it creamier).
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Veges of your choice (I use beans, carrots and capsicum etc and sometimes serve with cauli, kumara, brocolli mash).

How to make it: 

1. Brown chicken and veges and cook for about 5-10min (until almost cooked).

2. Add nut butter, milk and soy and simmer till cooked.

3. Serve!


Everything goes in the pan – simmer, simmer…



Ready to eat in no time – delish 🙂

Twist on your typical veges for dinner

I don’t know about you but I am always looking for new ways to have my veges for dinner.  My latest creation is “Cauli-kumara-broc mash”.  Yes, it is as simple as the name sounds (are you getting the jist that I like to keep things simple?) but adds a new dimension to add extra veges to your dinner.  It is especially good right now with the chilly winter nights – a healthy twist on comfort food.

I serve it with stir-fry’s, steak, fish – anything really, the options are endless.

Cauli-kumara-broc mash – what you need: (Can you guess?!)

  • 1 cup of brocolli
  • 1 cup of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup of kumara
  • 1/4 cup of milk to bind
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

How to make:

Steam (or cook) kumara, cauliflower and brocolli.  You need it to be quite mooshy for good mash.

I use my tupperware steamer – everything goes in the microwave for 12 mins, easy! (I got it free at a tupperware party, highly recommend being a host of one to get a heap of pretty containers and things).


This is my trusty tupperware steamer – SO useful!

Once cooked, mash it all together, add milk, salt and pepper and serve.  Done.

Mash it all together

Mash it all together

Mango-nana overnight oats

I follow a mostly paleo diet, so this is a wee bit RADICAL for me (how lame is my life huh?!) but Iately I have been getting back into overnight oats.

This recipe is inspired by my ongoing obsession – MANGO!  Seriously, HOW GOOD IS MANGO?!! And, I mean any kind of mango, dried, fresh, pureed, I’m not picky when it comes to this golden fruit of deliciousness.

I was lucky enough to have a day off work when I made these so I could create this when I got home after the gym.  When I make these on a normal workday they don’t look anywhere near as pretty as this, they are more a-smooshed-into-Tupperware, not-at-all-pretty creation.  But, as I had the luxury of eating breakfast at home (I know, I know, the exciting life I live..) I thought I would make it pretty just for you lovely people.  And we all know that a good picture makes a recipe much more enticing hey?!



Mango and banana overnight oats

Mango banana overnight oats:

  • Soak 1/3 cup oats overnight in 1/4 cup of almond milk (or any milk), 2TSB of Greek yoghurt and a dash of vanilla essence
  • Chop banana and mango and freeze overnight

**In the morning**

  • Blend frozen banana and mango till purĂ©ed
  • Layer mango/banana purĂ©e and overnight oats
  • Eat 🙂


  • Add a scoop of protein powder (increasing your protein macros – win!  These also known as pro-oats)
  • Use berries, grated apple or any other fruit instead – I usually just sprinkle them in the oats and then they are ready to go in the morning
  • Add cinnamon

Experiment with any other creations you might like – I have heard of people using peanut butter (also PB2) and many other variations.  Let us know if you find a new one we should try!



Stuck for inspiration for dinner tonight? Look no further than salt and pepper salmon

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  • Just got home from work and can’t even think about what to cook for dinner because you’re so hungry?
  • Want to impress a boy/girl/Flatmate with a fresh, delicious meal but don’t know where to start?
  • Fancy yourself as a big of a Jamie Oliver and want to prepare tasty a tasty meal in less than 15 minutes?

Well do I have a recipe for you?! This is my go to meal when I want a super quick, easy dinner with little clean up. This meal tastes so good its hard to believe its good for you!

Health Benefits of Salmon

Kiwis are wild about their salmon. Salmon is loaded with protein and the two blockbuster omega 3s — DHA and EPA — that make us happy, smart and pain-free. As the body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, the best way to obtain them is through the food we eat. It also contains a high level of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and minerals like Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium. Salmon is also a very good source of easy digestible proteins (amino acids) and B vitamins, making it one of the best protein foods you can eat.

The health benefits of eating salmon include the following:

  • Good Source of Vitamins, Proteins and Essential Minerals: Proteins, or accumulations of amino acids, are essential components of our cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones and every other body part. The proteins from salmon, and most other fishes, are easily digestible and easily absorbed into the body. They don’t have any adverse side effects, nor do they contain carcinogenic compounds like some other meats do.
  • Metabolism: The omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin-D and selenium within salmon all combine to help manage insulin levels throughout the body, thereby facilitating the absorption of sugar and the subsequent lowering of blood sugar levels.
  • Cardiovascular Health: While the omega-3 fatty acids help reduce cholesterol, maintain flexibility of arteries and veins and strengthen cardiac muscles, the essential amino acids repair damages to the cardiovascular tissues. They help reduce the blood pressure as well, by lowering cholesterol levels and preventing the hardening of artery walls. This considerably reduces the chances of heart attacks.
  • Brain & Nerves: The omega-3 fatty acids increase the efficiency of brain functions, improves memory and keep it active during long working hours. Along with the amino acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, and selenium, these fatty acids protect the nervous system from damage related to aging, acts as an antidepressant, relaxes the brain and also helps in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Eye Care: Again, the omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids help to prevent macular degeneration, retinal dryness, loss of vision and fatigue of the eyes. It is a proven fact that people who eat fish regularly, or at least more than others, have better vision than those who don’t.
  • Other Benefits: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation of the arteries and the digestive system, reduce chances of colon, prostate, and kidney cancers. Furthermore, salmon can improve skin texture, add some sparkle to your eyes, skin, hair and nails and help in the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon.

Fact of the Day…The fatter the salmon, the more nutritious and healthy it is!

So without further ado, here is my go to salt and pepper salmon recipe!

Salt and Pepper Salmon

Salt and Pepper Salmon


  • 150gm salmon per person
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 x cups of veggies per person (I use a mix of mushrooms, capsicums, broccoli, zucchini but feel free to get adventurous)
  • 1 cup baby spinach per person
  • 1/2 Tbs soy sauce (or coconut aminos) per person


  1. Heat a pan till its hot hot hot. Note, you don’t need to add any oil because the oil in the salmon will be more than enough to stop your salmon sticking
  2. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of your salmon
  3. Add your salmon steaks skin side down and leave it there till the middle is nearly flesh coloured (Or you can feel its heated through). While you are waiting for your salmon to crisp up, chop your veggies into small, equal(ish) chunks
  4. If you have room in the pan you are cooking your salmon in throw all your veggies (except the spinach) in. Alternatively heat another pan and add your veggies when its hot
  5. When your salmon is cooked half way (about 8 minutes) flip your fish and leave it there till its finished (about 5 mins).
  6. While your salmon finishes cooking, stir fry your veggies. When they are nearly cooked to your liking add the soy sauce and toss around till all veggies are coated. Throw in the spinach at the very end and toss around till it’s just wilted.
  7. Pop the salmon and veggies on a plate and eat immediately

Salmon health benefits accredited to

Progress update – July 2014

Kettlebells and Cookies was created out of our love and passion for all things food, fitness and fashion related. We post things we find motivating, inspiring, delicious and funny. But ultimately it is a safe place for Jane and I to share our goals, our struggles and our approaches to try balance lives as young professionals in this pretty hectic world.

So I thought it’s about time to update you on my two big goals for 2014:
– to run the New York marathon in November this year and
– feel confident and comfortable in a bikini in the Caribbean after New York.
Here is a comparison of me from Feb to June this year.

Things that changed between Feb and June
I changed jobs: I started a new job in the middle of Feb this year. I’ve gone from driving to and from home doorstep to office everyday to now running/walking the 4km to/ from my new office each day. There is less travel in my new job which equals more time for sleeping, exercising, experimenting in the kitchen and hanging with loved ones. I generally have more time to invest in other areas of my life to find a better work life balance.

I started back at Crossfit properly: When I started crossfit in September last year I was pretty haphazard, going 2 or 3 times a week but cherry picked my classes (picked classes based on the workout to suit my strengths/skip classes with my weaknesses). In about March this year I started back at CCW with a fresh outlook and no expectations on myself. I went 4-5 times a week no matter the workout and have improved my strengths and my weaknesses! I have made an amazing group of friends at the gym who push you and support you and bring out the best in you when you think you have nothing left. I will continue to do crossfit to compliment my marathon training as long as possible but I know consistently lifting wights, rowing, jumping and even handstands will help me on marathon day and has helped me towards both my goals over the last 5 months.

i started marathon training: In June this year I kicked off my 20 week marathon program. I was running 3 times a week but to begin with most of the runs were less than 30 mins so I was able to continue with crossfit 4 times a week. Now I’ve added another run to my schedule and I am listening to my body week by week to see how many crossfit classes I do a week. Last week I was sick so didn’t do any crossfit classes and only 3 runs. I need to remember I have to get through the next 16 weeks healthy and uninjured so keep focused on the big picture.

I stopped being so hard on myself Pretty self explanatory but I stopped comparing myself to others at the gym or my run times to my previous times from 2-3 years ago. And since then everything became a lot more fun!

Things I’m still working on
Food: I’m continually tweeting my diet (another post on this to come). I haven’t found what is right for me and to be honest I got a little lost in all the conflicting fad information out there – eat high fat, eat low fat, detox, snack, dont snack, don’t eat gluten, eat whole grains! I ended up doing some weird hybrid of all of those and not knowing or listening to what my body needs. I dont know if what I’m doing now will be the perfect solution for me but it will be a heck of a lot better than trying bits and pieces of everything, putting my body through stress of not knowing when or what the next meal will be. I stick to unpackaged, unprocessed, clean food and Im all for being organised, prepped and planned but what I was doing was prepping and organising myself for the no plan plan.
I very happy with the balanced diet I am running with at the moment so watch this space for another nutrition update soon.

So that’s a quick update on what I have been up to over the last 5 months. I’m happy with the progress I have made towards my goals and can’t wait to see what I can achieve over the next 16 weeks! Watch this space for the next update towards my goals.
Laura xx