All posts by gb-admin

revive active

My top 5 supplements to beat the winter blues!

So I’m typically sent all kinds of supplements to try out for you gym bunnies out there but I’ve decided to revise my favourites as there are quite a few game-changers currently on the market that I wanted to share with you because they are simply divine! Please note: These are not paid adverts but I did receive complimentary product to trial and test, with no obligation for review. (I was sent other samples from each brand but only chose my favourites!).

1. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Powder XS™ Cocoa – Chocolate Flavour – XS Nutrition by Amway
A relatively new player on the Irish market, this whey protein packs a mean 29g of protein in each serving, compared to it’s 20/30g counterparts. I’ve actually asked the very hard to please gym lads I train with to give it a go and it’s gotten 5 stars all round. It’s very palatable, mixes well with milk or water AND you can cook very easy with it too. The reason it’s here is that I tend to become more ‘flexible’ with my diet when I don’t have any pending bikini holidays- I know!!!- so adding more protein to my diet makes for  less cravings and a more sated feeling. This is an excellent quality protein and also crams in 5 grams of naturally occurring BCAAs. You can buy it here.

2. Revive Active Beauty Complex – Revive Active
So anyone who knows me personally will know I am a skincare fiend! I use hyaluronic acid only skin of hydration so was SO excited to try this supplement which contains HA and collagen. You take it on an empty tummy first thing in the morning and mix with water. It tastes like pineapple and is actually gorgeous. My skin is brighter and is getting clearer (I’ve been using this for two and a half weeks) and  I feel like my energy levels are good and look more rested. I was sent this by the wonderful folk at Lloyd’s Pharmacy  and you can buy this online here.

3. Femme Omega – Ros Nutrition
Omega-3 oils have so many incredible functions in the body- including the regeneration of cells, the formation of cell membranes, maintenance of hormonal balance, healthy skin (needed in my case due to weather changes!) and the production of healthy cholesterol. These little bad boys may even help to maintain or improve cardiovascular health, cholesterol, and mood. This has been given the thumbs up by my nerdy other half who has an MA in Nutrition and is VERY hard to please! You can buy it here.

4. Vitamin D – The Edge: Clontarf
We all know that when the weather starts to change (bleeeeh!) we should be increasing our intake of vitamin d, but did you know that recent studies show a direct correlation with less sunlight and the influx of ‘flu season’ as we know it. Vitamin D is necessary for a healthy immune system, so with these deliciously chewy tablets, I’m sold. You can buy them here.

5. B-Complex – The Edge: Clontarf
So for anyone suffering from stress, leading a hectic schedule (ehhh Christmas much??), taking an oral contraceptive, suffering with mood swings- you need to give this a try. Our busy lifestyles can leave us often feeling tired and low on energy. B-Active is formulated as a one-a day capsule for just this situation. You can buy this here.

I hope you found this helpful and that you are soldiering into the winter in good health!

Please note, as with all of my posts, this is purely informational and before embarking on any radical dietary changes or new supplementary choices,  please speak to a health professional or your GP.

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My experience on dealing with grief

Someone close to me and my family is currently going through a tough time with a family member who is very ill.

They reached out to see if I had any advice as to how to help handle the pain, the confusion, the anxiety and, inevitably I suppose, the grief that comes with loss.

And to be honest, I didn’t even know what to say until I started writing…

My Mum Lorna died in August of 2011. She was 54 years old and she had Lung Cancer. She smoked from a very young age, like most smokers, but her specific cancer was, ironically, the kind of lung cancer that non-smokers also get.

So, when  my family and I got the news about Mum’s illness, I was living a life I loved in Barcelona. I was about to move jobs and got a really exciting offer to make video content for high-end apartments across the Med. Sounded too good be true. And life had a not-so-nice way of telling me just that.

She was given 3-5 months to live and we managed to see her through 10 relatively pain-free months. We felt very lucky to have gotten that much time, and indeed the foresight, that she was ill. For some people, they get a call on the way home from work to say someone has been killed in a car accident. We got to say goodbye and were all with Mum when she passed away, quietly and peacefully, with the help of the amazing hospice in Raheny, who we are forever indebted to.

You see, that all panned out quite a lot ‘better off’ than some people’s stories. I can’t say that if someone gets similar news that their outcome will be as such. Look, it was far from easy, still.

I moved home to Ireland and had to learn to be a child again in my own parents house,  essentially. I had to learn, at the same time, that being the child was only required sometimes. Other times, I had to reverse roles, as Mum’s primary carer, and take care of her to make sure she was clean, comfortable and felt beautiful…despite her little body getting weaker and weaker. Being the adult and child meant I felt angry, upset, pissed off, filled with rage. But my heart felt full and at peace, as in other ways my whole family pulled together in a way I cannot describe. We all had one goal and one focus.

It was far from a Disney movie, but what I learned was this- you cannot do everything and be everything. If you try and fix the whole situation, you will end up broken, tired and of no use to yourself or anyone else. I walked or ran twice a day for at least 45 minutes to clear my head and I took a job twice a week in a family friend’s cafe in town. They were so kind and understanding about my timetable and knew that sometimes, at the last minute, I had to cancel my work at short notice.

My advice is to allow your head and your heart to feel whatever it is they are going to feel, but don’t let anything stick too hard. Be kind to yourself and allow others in. The hospice team are incredible, as are ARC, who offer free support and  talks with the likes of nurses and mental health professionals who can offer a supportive ear when you need it most. It’s not for everyone. One chat with one of the nurses was enough for me, but other people I know found regular chats with their support network also helped them hugely.

I found that things that bothered everyone else around me (outside my family) felt so, so trivial, but actually, for other people, I had to remember they were, still, ‘big deals’. The small fights with boyfriends, the stressful boss, the annoying sister…all of these things seemed so bloody trivial and, I suppose, you kind of switch off a little in social situations to allow yourself ignore what you view as petty, which is so unfair and so harsh to everyone else around you. Then the thoughts get ahead of you and suddenly you’re sitting there surrounded by loved ones and friends and you feel like you are all alone. That nobody else feels this way.

Well, they do. I did. And I hope that by sharing a little part of my story, that other people don’t feel like what they are going through or what they went through is the end of the world.

One of my lasting memories of Mum is her sitting by the windowsill she always sat near when she was drinking her tea and she turned to me and she was crying, which, despite her illness, she rarely did, or at least in front of us. She said she was upset because she was going to miss out on our (my brothers and my) future, on us having kids or getting married etc…

And she was totally and uncontrollably right. That was not the nicest thing to hear, nor the nicest thing to let sink in.

Does it get easier? Yes.

Do you forget things? Maybe a little.

Do you remember the great things? Absolutely. (Don’t throw away anything unless you want to and feel ready to).

Do you forget they are gone? All the time. Let me explain- I hear a song, see a film or read a book or eat something or meet someone and think ‘Mum would love that or them’. Then I remember she’s gone and get upset for a few minutes.

That’s difficult to process if you havn’t lost someone close, and maybe it’s just me who feels like that.

But, it’s also a nice little jolt which allows me to remember her, in the midst of a stupidly busy schedule. It gives me a little jolt.

It’s like her little phone call to say hi from wherever she is.

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Chicken fajitas

High-protein dinners to eat after a late workout

So, I typically train in the evening after work, which often means my last meal is at 9 pm or later- eek! So for those of you, who are looking for some late-night lighter dinner options to eat after a late workout, check these out:

1. Paleo Chicken Wraps

This is one of my most-visited recipes on my site and for good reason. It’s healthy, light and so easy to make. You can find the recipe here.

2. Spicy Turkey Mince

Another go-to for me- easy to throw together and is kind of a ‘leftovers in the fridge’ kind of meal, which is ideal for the day before your weekly shop. Find my recipe here.

3. Turkey Sausages with Veggie Mash

This is my healthier take on the traditional British favourite- Bangers & Mash. I swap my sausages for turkey sausages (grilled) and the mash I use is Mash Direct turnip, parnsip & carrot it’s so good. I simply add some real butter, sauteed red onion and some pepper and salt. Oh and a little splash of milk!

4. Chicken Stir-fry

Again, another easy peasy recipe that I go back to time and time again. I recently wrote a post for the boys at The Edge: Clontarf on this actually- you can find the recipe here.

5. Burrito Bowl/Fajitas

A simple combination of stir-fried chicken fillets, paprika, chilli flakes, splash tamari sauce, some lime juice, garlic, fried onions, peppers and some more lime juice. Add some mash avocado as a side (made with lime juice, tomato juice & salt) and serve in a warm wrap with fresh, crunchy lettuce and a side of kidney beans (strained!). So easy and SO tasty. If you want to keep the carbs low, leave out the wrap and have a lettuce wrap instead. Or if you’d prefer some rice, simply place all the ingredients when cooked on top.

How to survive a hen party

How to survive a Hen or Girls Weekend

SO, a good friend of mine is getting hitched this coming November so we are heading off on her Hen party this weekend- location is still top secret for the bride- eeeeek! :)

Now in a healthier approach to the run up to a hen, you might think, are you not taking away from the fun? In my opinion, not at all. In fact, by cleaning up my food intake this week, keeping on top of my supplementation and adding in an extra session at the gym, I will feel much better getting ready on Saturday.

And before anyone jumps to conclusions, nope- it’s not due to guilt or anything of the sort. Keeping it low carb (ish- I had quinoa at lunch and rice noodles post-workout!) I will feel fresher, leaner and healthier and ready for some fun!

hen party healthy

SO what did I do and will I do differently this week?

1. I added in an extra two AWFUL HIIT sessions as I won’t be training at the weekend of course!

2. I kept my coffee intake low so far this week- one Monday, just one yesterday and none today- so far so good!

3. I have taken ALL of the supplements to keep my vitamins and minerals in check and have increased my magnesium to enable deeper and more restful sleep.

4. I’ve done face masks, used lotions and potions to prep my skin for some boldness and have kept away from any tans or drying agents!

5. I’ve kept my sugar intake to a minimum- again in preparation for some yummy treats and drinks!

6. I usually start off with a glass of bubbles and move to a clear alcohol- this means the head is less, well, heady, the next day! I also drink sparkling water with any shorts- it puts manners on any speedy drinking!

7. I always bring electrolytes for that night or next morning. Time to rehydrate and replenish!

8. Have a good breakfast the morning after the night before. Even if you don’t feel like it at the time, try and eat a protein rich breakfast. I usually go for poached eggs and some brown toast and bacon. Your liver will thank you later. Fill up on water, have some fruit and a strong hot coffee!

9. Then, after breakfast, try and get outside or move  a little to blow away the cobwebs. More water, some more coffee and I’m usually hungry again an hour after breakfast. I ALWAYS carry snacks like almonds, protein and a protein bar, just in case!

10. Let your hair down. Whether it’s a hen or a girl’s night out or a birthday, you have to allow wiggle room to just go with the flow and relax.

The above works well for me, but might not be for everyone! The goal is let yourself go and get right back to facing your goals the next day, perhaps after a sneaky takeaway-eek…

Especially if you are in the bridal party or the Bride-to-be, make sure you get back in the saddle and stick to your guns. The countdown is on to feel healthy and confident for your big day. No time for quick fixes, just healthier choices that become lifetime commitments…

Whatever the occasion is for your next big night out, why not try my top tips on how to survive a Hen or Girls Weekend!

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get better sleep tips

Tired of being tired of being tired?

We’ve all been there lads.

Can’t sleep. Won’t sleep. So much so, that it begins to affect our sleep patterns even more.

SO what can you do, you ask?

Well there are a few basics that, most likely, sound very very obvious, but nevertheless, let’s give them a try, and indeed, a mention.

sleeping like a baby

Below you have some tips on how to improve your sleep:

1. No blue lights after 9pm- the awful glaring lights from your TV, mobile or beside clock affects your natural ability to sleep. Power off by 9pm and leave your phone in another room if you can.

2. Try leaving out any power naps or midday rests- you need to be winding down at night time properly to restore your natural cycle.

3. Change your sheets each week- Think of that moment you change your sheets, shave your legs and slip into soft pj’s. Yeah. Give that a go more often. Simples.

4. Save your bedroom for sleep and sex (if you’re lucky enough!)- no work, no TV, no laptops and limit reading too. Bedtime needs a routine, just like a toddler, so make sure you prioritise yours.

5. Get in charge of your body clock- so even at weekends, try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same-ish time! When it’s darker outside try and make sure to see some light within 5 minutes of waking to properly get your body going!

6. Avoid excess caffeine- yes, probably the last thing you want to hear, but by overloading on caffeine with an already disrupted sleep pattern, your body will be a nervous wreck!

7. Exercise regularly- but avoid training too close to bed-time as some people find it harder to sleep with that post-workout burst or buzz of energy!

8. Take magnesium- a natural muscle relaxant, magnesium will help your whole body relax and rest more easily.

9. Avoid eating too much, too late at night. Keep your meals light and allow yourself a good hour before bed to digest before lying down, if possible.

10. Avoid drinking too much before bed- the two hours before you to bed, your bladder will fill up if you drink too many liquids before you hit the hay. Try and avoid drinking too many liquids or you’ll wake up naturally needing to use the loo! Also avoid alcohol if your sleep is disturbed. While it may make you feel sleepy, the sugar content may also cause you to stir and twitch or wake up completely in the middle of the night.

toddlersleep

Conscious that quite a few of my followers have young kids and families, so the aforementioned tips might not always be so simple in practice. However, if you can start to implement similar tips for your children, where relevant, it’s amazing the calming effect that the run-up to bedtime will have on the whole house!

Night night…

Sleep tight…

X

 

 

stretch

HIIT circuit on the go- simple exercises to do anywhere!

Whether you are too tired, busy, unmotivated or just up the walls, we all have days where we just can’t make it to the gym or out and about!

So rather than grabbing a cup of tea just yet and reaching for the biccies or glass of vino, why not give this easy peasy at-home HIIT circuit a try in the comfort of your own home, hotel room or balcony!

Up the intensity by simply adding another round or two- oh and don’t be afraid to get SWEATY!

HIIT circuit

Enjoy

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Irish Fitness blogger Gym Bunny

FREE 4 Week Gym Program

So I train with the lovely lads at The Edge: Clontarf in Dublin 3 along the seafront and have done so for the past four years. It’s my form of therapy, my mental and physical well-being and I could not rate them any higher.

With this in mind, I teamed up with Trainer and Director James to put together a simple gym program for you to follow- think of it as a four week program that will sculpt and activate your whole body in minimal time.

James has recommended this as a 3 day a week weights program with about 10/15 minutes cardio to be done at the end of each session- your choice!

I’d recommend a simple 10 Minute HIIT program at the end of each session or what I have started to do is some circuits on the Aero-dynamic bike which is NOT for the faint-hearted!

If in doubt, simply google the exercises but I am looking to do a little photo or video journal of each very soon :)

PLEASE NOTE: Before starting on ANY new program please consult with a professional and do not undertake any programs while pregnant unless under the advice of your GP. For any of you new to training, please speak to a PT about correct form and technique for any unfamiliar exercises.

Day 1

A1:Split Squats x 12

A2: 1 Armed Row x12

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

B1: Bench Bridge x30 secs (shoulders on bench)

B2: Kneeling Push-up Hold x30 secs

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

C1: Side Plank x30 sec each side

C2: Standing Lat-Raise x20

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with NO REST IN BETWEEN

Finish with 15 minutes cardio of choice

PS: Don’t be afraid to sweat!

 

Day 2

A1:Heel Elevated Squats x8 (5 seconds down)

A2: Seated Shoulder Press x15

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

B1: Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift x15

B2: Bent over DB Row x15

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

C1: V-Sit Hold x30 secs

C2: Burpees x15

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec with NO REST IN BETWEEN

Finish with 15 minutes cardio of choice

Tip:  Try and increase your weights once you feel comfortable with technique!

 

Day 3

A1: Lunge & Reach x18 (1st set body weight)

A2: Low-incline Bench Tricep Extension x15

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

B1: Wall sit x30 secs

B2: Cable Bicep Curls x15

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec rest in between

C1: Full plank x 30-45 secs

C2: Mountain Climbers x30 secs

NOTE: Repeat the above exercises x 3 sets with 30 sec with NO REST IN BETWEEN

Finish with 15 minutes cardio of choice

 

Keep in mind!

You need to remember that good technique is far more important than lifting heavier weights each time. Keep your breathing on track too. Breathe out on the effort to help push yourself! Once you have nailed technique and you feel comfortable doing so, you can start to increase your weights for each exercise!

There are so many benefits of working with a good trainer either on a regular basis if your budget allows or indeed at intervals throughout the year to change up your program based on your individual needs!

As mentioned above, always consult a professional before starting on a brand new training program particularly if suffering from any long-term illness, overcoming surgery, chemotherapy or pre or post natal. Health and safety are key!

girl exercising at home gymbunny.ie

How to be less stressed with a crazy to-do list

OK, I admit it. I put up hundreds of motivational quotes on my blog, and you know what?

Sometimes, actually LOTS of times, I don’t always feel 100%.  I don’t always bounce out of bed. I don’t look forward to each and every day like Instagram wants us all to feel.

And that’s OK.

What tends to fill my mind, like most women I know, is one big, giant, never-ending to-do list. I write lists all the time, scrunch them up in little post-its (otherwise I forget!) and when it’s done, it’s like a giant sense of relief as we are one step to finishing said list. Anxiety much?

I digress.

Something, however, that’s never on the to-do list for everyone, is scheduled time-out. I have gym time, work time, friend time, family and boyfriend time. So I’ve decided to add in little slots during the week to do the things I love to do, to make sure my to-do list never falters too far from Number 1. (Me- AHEM!).

Now this is probably easier said than done, as I don’t have kids or a dog (I’m crying at the dog part btw…) but I’m hoping that some of my tips below will allow for a more positive mindset and a more relaxed you, REGARDLESS of how many cute kids or picture perfect puppies you have :)

The following are what I do to get some head-space, some me-time and less stress-time:

1. Any day it’s not lashing rain, I try to walk into and out of work. My commute walking is about 30 mins each way at the moment, so it adds to about 7,000 steps. It means I can listen to podcasts, music (usually terrible Spanish music to be fair!) and just forget about any stresses.

2. I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. This is non-negotiable, unless I’m away and really want a break from everything. If I’m not in the gym I’ll go for a half day hike somewhere pretty.

3. I’ve started yoga each Wednesday evening and completely switch off in that hour. I don’t get lost in ‘another world’, so much as I allow the practice to be only full of positive thoughts, calmness and relaxation. Negative thoughts can sit this one out on the bench.

4. I try not to use my phone after 10pm. They only time I use my phone in bed on a ‘school night’ is to set my alarm. Then it’s turned over and left on my bedside table.

5. I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone. Yes I have a blog and yes I’m already pretty crap with my phone in terms of replying to begin with. But, between working in Digital, having the blog and freelancing, my mind would go crazy with the amount of notifications so they are always switched to OFF. Sorry not sorry.

6. I have no TV. Well, I have no channels tuned in. I’ve been that way since I left college over 10 years ago. It’s amazing and you get so much more done in the evenings. No Love Island though, and no Ex On The Beach, which is fairly devastating though.

7. I try and get out of Dublin every few weekends. Fresh air, fresh lungs, fresh head. It feels like a mini-holiday, even if it’s just for a day to Wicklow.

8. I watch what I eat. What has this got to do with my to-do list you might ask? Well, I keep track of everything I eat in MyFitnessPal. Therefore I know why I might be cranky after certain foods, or feel down or too ‘up’ either. Nutrition has a MASSIVE  impact on our mood (READ: OUR HORMONES!) take note lads and lassies.

9. I book massages and facials in lieu of drinking and partying. So I don’t really drink, just on occasions. So I take that €€ and use it on Number 1. Selfish? Maybe. Deserved? HELL YES!!!

10. I don’t stress if people are late, arrive late, don’t reply to a text, reply late, don’t answer…I don’t absorb passive aggression from other girls (I ignore the HELL out of it actually) and I have learned to move far, far away from people who are constantly negative. It’s very, very damaging and there are some people that simply don’t want positive people around them and just want you to agree with the negatives and be gone. My mantra now is to stay the hell away. Be kind, be polite, but don’t get involved.

Hopefully this will resonate with some of you- maybe not all of the points will be possible but, even if you can take one or two on-board it will be a great start!

X

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GymBunny’s guide on where to go in Bali

Well, this is not very health and fitness related, but I have had SO many of you guys request info on my recent trip, that I decided to put together a little post :)

So, I decided to bite the bullet this summer.

After YEARS, yes- YEARS- of humming and hawing, I decided to go a little further afield and branch out to new horizons in Bali for my summer hols!

Bali is an island and is a province of Indonesia in Asia and is made up of the island of Bali and some little surrounding islands too. It’s hugely popular with Aussie surfers and yogis and so caters very well to Western tastes when it comes to grungy little surf shack cafes and perfectly poached eggs with ‘avo-toast’.

The majority of Bali’s natives practice Hinduism, with over 85% of the majority, followed by roughly 15% Muslim in faith. The people are so gentle and lovely,  incredibly friendly and I felt so safe the entire time- I would actually happily travel there on my own.

Bali Flower

Bali has been residing in my brain and messing with my my mind for years and somewhere I always wanted to go. I mentioned it to my bestie before Christmas last year and away we went and booked. Despite planning for so long on the actual destination, the actual initial getting it all done and finalised happened very quickly. We booked flights using Sky Scanner,  flying Dublin to Denpasar, and the return flights for the two of us cost us about €1150. Even looking at accommodation at that stage brought it to approx €1200 in total each, including some really nice hotels. We weren’t too fussy about our travel dates to be honest. We did, however, want the shortest journey duration possible, without breaking the bank! And so began our little adventure…

Girls at Single Fin Bali

We started booking flights etc, in January and the trip was the end of June to mid-July. This is a great time to visit Bali as you have sun but it’s not too hot and not too humid either- OR too rainy. My pal Tash lives in Bali and recommended this time of year, so I forgot the weather apps, begrudgingly (I’m a total weather nerd!) and went with the local advice :)

We started looking into where to stay in about February or March and kept an eye out- I’m a huge fan of booking.com and typically use this for all my hotels when going abroad, if I’m not using Air B n’B. We started with all the typical Bali hotspots and ended up doing a plan for our trip that looked something like this:

Seminyak- Day 1-5

Ubud- Day 5-8

Gili Trawangan Day 8-13

Uluwatu Day 13-15

Overall, we spent two and a half days tin transit. The flights are long-haul- I think we were almost 25-28 hours travelling over and back altogether. The flight I found really awful and I couldn’t sleep- probably the excitement mixed with airplane temperature drops. We flew with Malaysia airlines and I wasn’t really impressed by the level of comfort or the food – BUT, you pay for what you get. The same flights on the same day with other airlines were double the price!

We had to alter our accommodation  around even after all the confirmations as the weather took a little turn in the middle of our trip, but with booking.com it was so easy to change. This sounds like an #ad but it’s totally not it’s just SO easy to use and you don’t need to pay typically until you arrive which is always a bonus!

Here’s a little run-down on what each place was like and what we did in each place…

Note: if you know me at all, you will know that I LOVE sunbathing, I LOVE beaches and I LOVE walking. SO put me in a hot, sunny environment and I’m easy to please. I am not, on the other hand, so enamored with overcast, dull, grey skies and can get cranky/sick/tired. *See below.

Denpasar Airport

Ok, so arriving in the airport I imagined it would be total chaos. It was actually really easy. We had arranged a driver in advance, which I would recommend, as it makes getting off a long-haul flight so much less of a bother. Also to note, loads of hotels offer transfers too when you book, which is worth keeping in mind. Our driver met us with a little sign outside arrivals and was super friendly-  Siobhan (my pal) took over on the small talk (which I hate) and away we went to our first destination- Seminyak!

Seminyak

Driving into Seminyak, I had expected this sleepy little beach town. It’s not exactly the reality. It’s hectic in terms of traffic, scooters EVERYWHERE, broken footpaths and cafes and restaurants, cute little Aussie and Balinese boutiques everywhere and loads of Spas.

We checked in, got showered- in the OUTDOOR shower- and then headed to the beach to watch sunset. Then we felt fancy, got a local beer which is far from fancy but does the job (Bintang is the local beer, Radler is the shandy) and after watching the sunset, we went and treated ourselves to a VERY FANCY full-body massage at Spring Spa. I had the Spring massage, my pal the Balinese. Mine was achingly amazing. Like the best sports massage ever but also really relaxing at the same time. 1 hour of bliss for 20 quid max including tip. We spent the next few days floating about sampling the coffee everywhere we could and some of the amazing healthy restaurants peppering the streets of crazy little Seminyak. Our hotel was in Petitenget beside the W hotel, which was quite basic but had a fab gym. I used the ‘fab’ gym twice and did a HIIT circuit outside our little villa. There was the start and the end of my gym-time in Bali. Yikes!

Seminyak beach

Restaurant/cafe wise, I’d recommend Sisterfields (probably the best food I had in Seminyak- try the avocado toast or anything really!), Monsieur Spoon( coffee and cake), Cafe Organic (acai bowls, great coffee, very Insta-friendly but, alas, the staff not so much!), Ku De Ta (for a VERY fancy date night ( I wasn’t a huge fan as the food was just OK but the setting is divine. It’s about 4 or 5 times more expensive than anywhere else around though!). Very Sex and the City. Livingstone is another cafe/bakery that stands out too and for some local food try Warung Dedalu (very cheap and cheerful and a favourite for those looking for cheap-eats and quick service). In terms of night-life, everyone had recommended Potato Head, but I didn’t get a great vibe from it walking by during the day. We were also advised to check out the cafe Nalu bowls. Really wasn’t that impressed. Very touristy, very average and poor service.

We just went on a random night or two out in Seminyak and ended up in the craziest Mexican place called Mexicola. You have to try it at least once. Mental, loud, crazy, busy and banging tunes. You can also get tacos while you dance. Win win. After that we went to La Favela which was amazing- another kind-of club but everyone was smoking and it was actually really horrible being in there after a half hour, our lungs just gave up! Even though the music was AMAZING.

My favourite part of Seminyak was actually a day club called Mrs Sippy. So funky, so clean, modern, fresh and summery. Great food, superb service, GREAT DJ’s, a super mix of locals and tourists and a really great holiday vibe. You don’t have t pay for the small white beds but you cannot bring food or water inside. We literally spent three days there. BLISS.

Mrs Sippy Bali

We arranged for a driver (through our hotel) to drive us to Ubud. I didn’t have a great feeling as the weather was a little overcast and when we left Seminyak I didn’t feel 100% at all. Started to feel really fluey and a little sick too :(. I am the weatherman.

Ubud

We arrived to Ubud at night- it took us less than two hours to get there. We had booked a super fancy hotel there and it felt all very honeymoonish when we arrived. It was full of 14 century Balinese artifacts that were lost on us, to be fair, but we did make some ‘hilarious’ videos of us finding lizards and other creatures. Breakfast was meh but the views were incredible. We stayed in the jungle and had an infinity pool which was just fab. We got up the next morning and went straight in on our free shuttle and grabbed coffee and second brekkie in a very cool place called Seniman (hat tip to some of my followers for telling us where to go!). We walked up and down the streets and stopped to take loads of the little shrines everywhere.

Twice a day, the Balinese Hindus make an offering to their gods. These are beautiful little colourful baskets filled with treats, flowers, and some beautiful smelling incense. It’s really pretty and particularly eye-catching in Ubud. (although the photo above was taken in Seminyak- I’m such a sneak!).

hindu god

Ubud is very similar to Seminyak on first sight (but greener and minus the beaches!) but seems to be a real haven for Balinese furniture, relics and souvenirs. The film Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts was filmed here years ago, and so Ubud is now kind of a haven for twenty-something to middle-aged women looking to do yoga retreats and to take some time out to relax. We weren’t exactly on the same buzz, so I feel that we could probably have moved on after a day and a half in Ubud. But that’s just me, and as I said, I am minus a fan of grey, over-cast skies, so Ubud did not present itself in it’s finest hour, weather-wise! Cafe wise, we also popped into a little place called Freak (amazing raw chocolate and salted caramel treats!) and followed that with the Campuhan Ridge walk- a little tiny glimpse of the rice fields and a lovely escape from the busier streets.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

We also walked down to the Monkey forest but didn’t go in as the monkeys are bloody mental and scrape you and steal from you. They can even take off your earrings. No, no and just no. They are probably a lot startled by all the tourists too, to be fair.

We strolled into the Ubud Palace and the museum grounds which were both fab and followed that with a little massage and body scrub (NOTIONS!) in Fresh Spa which was also divine after a long day on our feet! I’d recommend doing the bike tour (Green bike Tour are supposed to be amazing!) but when I got up the next day I could hardly breathe (all chesty from allergies) never mind walk that far so we stayed near the hotel (weather was just so-so) and went in for food later on. Mount Batur is supposed to be an amazing sunset trip that I was super keen to do too, but with the icky weather and feeling icky it just wasn’t happening. We booked our driver to our next destination for early the next morning and away we went to the coast.

Gili Trawangan

SO, we got a lift with a driver to the coast with a few others in a mini-van. We were handed a sticker to put on, our bags were thrown onto the beach and off we went onto the  boat after a very hectic queuing system, a very confusing chat with people telling us to get into lines, then everyone made a mad scramble for another boat.

Gilt T Boat

The boat took two hours or so and was a little choppy but neither of us get travel sick so all good! They also hand out little sick bags and are well used to tourists so if you need a sick bag, don’t be shy! We got off the other side and arrived onto a crazy little island that stole our hearts…

So, replace the scooters with horses and carts ( at 70km an hour!) and throw in a few hundred bikes across a little island that you can circle in less than an hour. Mental. Anyways, the sea front or the circumference of the whole island is peppered with little hotels, villas, private villas, cafes, shops and bars. By day, we hung out at the beaches taking achingly cool insta shots- seriously it’s insta-heaven- and by night, after about 11pm, things get crazy. Each night there is a different party night that the whole island goes to. It is probably the only time I felt Bali maybe a little seedier  when we walked home after the parties, but I  never felt unsafe or threatened at all.

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The night-life consists of outdoor dancing, outdoor bars, street vendors selling bbq corn and crepes and lots of reggaeton and trance a little later on, mixed with a little mainstream chart music to boot. An incredible few days in this little paradise island. We stayed in Manta Dive and I would happily go back again tomorrow. Super breakfast included, very reasonably priced and really, really central. Honestly, just stay here. They also do diving courses and are right beside little tour operators where you can book snorkelling too.

Snorkelling Gili T

We did a snorkel tour and visited some of the smaller islands nearby. It was so exciting, the water was so clear and we managed to see turtles, loads of colourful fish and had a ball. It cost a tenner and the whole trip lasted half a day. A tenner well spent and you even get to stop off at a little beach shack for a beer before you get back on the boat after your third stop. So, so, so magical.

Cafe and restaurant wise, everything is so close but I can happily recommend La Boulangerie for croissants and coffee, dinner at Scallywags and we didn’t get to go but La Trattoria is supposed to be lovely too! Pretty much anywhere we ate was totally fine on Gili T! I’d recommend going in search of the nicer beaches to get the best views of sunset and the nicest sand too. Sunset Beach and Malibu beach and even just the walk to get to both are just fab. You’ll see everyone making their way to those beaches from about an hour or two before sunset. This is also where you get the famous ‘Bali swing’ photos!  We left Gili T with sad little faces, happy little hearts and sandy little toes.

Bali Swing

Uluwatu

The majority of the beaches you see when you google ‘Bali beaches’ are in Uluwatu. These are mostly surfer beaches, and the tide comes right in, so it’s worth noting that not all are suitable for swimmers or sunbathers (or kids!). That aside, the beaches are just divine, the surroundings fabulous and the people so friendly again. We went to Padang Padang, Dreamland Beach and Bingin Beach on day 1. Bingin beach was so pretty but the tide was crazy. Dreamland is very touristic but larger and more room for sunbathers or swimmers, but still very rough. On our second day we went to Nyang Nyang Beach which was gorgeous- white sand, big waves, but not as rough and only a handful of people to share it all with. We strolled over then to Pecatu temple on Balangan beach but the weather had turned so the views weren’t as spectacular as they usually are, which was such a pity as this was meant to be a lovely view for sunset!

Nyang Nyang Beach

Uluwatu is a haven for surfers and yogis from around the world- mostly Brazil, Australia and Europe. People here are staying here for surfing so this is not the place for partying really.

Bingin Beach

That saying, one of the best nights we had was when we got two drivers to take us on their scooters to Single Fin (a beach bar right on the cliff-top of a stunning beach!) and the vibe was very, VERY cool. Think denim cut-offs, tanned limbs and floaty tops. Makeup very optional. Slow to start but a fantastic sunset and well worth the mini-trek. Everyone was so friendly and a great place to eat (the pizza and nachos are to DIE for), dance, mingle and have a few fresh-fruit cocktails!

Single Fin Beach Club

Food-wise, there are so many great places to eat here you will not go hungry. They are pretty spread out though, so you will either need to grin and bear the walk or you can rent bikes or drivers. Look for Bukit Cafe (amazing for brekkie, lunch or dinner- just A1 all round and one of my fave places we ate in Bali!). Think fluffy pancakes, mouth-watering grilled fish, fajitas, nasi goreng, poached eggs, quinoa salad- you name it…This is also one of the cutest and cleanest places we ate in  that was very mid-range in terms of prices.

We also ate in Mango Tree (Corn fritters were awesome- service was SO SLOW though), in Ohm burger (which was crazy delicious and they have big jars of thick smoothies that are just the most aesthetic-looking beverage in the LAND) and a few others that we just happened upon and loved- honestly you will be spolied for choice here!

On our last day, we went for a very long and lazy brekkie and then met my pal Tash who swept us off to a little slice of luxury for our last day. El Kabron is situated 50m above sea level perched on a cliff. The views are OUTSTANDING. This is basically a very upmarket beach bar and we spent about 60/70 quid on practically nothing but, hey, it was our last day and the views were oh-so-worth-it!

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We went back to our hotel, met our driver and off to the airport we went, with heavy little hearts, still not trying to think about work or endless to-do lists, and instead soaking up the last few random hours before we landed on Irish soil…

Would I recommend Bali as a holiday?

HELL yes. It’s great for singles, couples, families and is VERY kid-friendly. Kids are everywhere but always on best behaviour it seemed. They are allowed into most day-bars and day-clubs (which are hugely popular in Bali) but they typically have a pool curfew (say 3pm) when kids have to leave the pool area. I presume this is to keep the older crowd buying drinks etc.. and for health and safety.

Overall, it’s easy to get around, traffic aside, it’s super friendly and there is so much to see and do! Two and a half weeks oh-so-very-well-spent. (mozzie bites aside…)

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PS. Two questions I keep getting from people since I came back:

1. Would I recommend Bali as a honeymoon spot?

Yes and no. Yes if you want to go to a resort and stay there and do nothing AND not really leave your hotel, then yes. Or if you love surfing and yoga and wanted to combine that then certain parts would be perfect for that.  I think outside your hotel, if on honeymoon, some people might find the noise and street pollution a little too much. On the other-hand if you want a little island to visit and just go to Nusa Dua then you’ll probably find the aforementioned suit you to a t! Ie: clean beaches, enclosed resorts, white sand etc…

I think Bali suits the more ‘adventurous’ who want a little rough with the smooth while travelling and I don’t think that most honeymooners are after any kind of rough when they travel! That saying, you can easily hire a nice car with a driver who speaks perfect English to only bring you to the ‘prettier’ and ‘cleaner’ spots. That in mind, there are plenty of resorts that cater to just that and lots of romantic villas too with private chefs etc…

But as an afterword, you have to keep in mind that Bali is  a developing country still and the powers that be have not invested in the required infrastructure for the amount of tourism the country attracts. This in turn affects travel, pollution and even the aesthetics and living conditions of some of the towns and villages. But, for me, at least, that’s all part of the charm…

2. Would I have done anything differently?

Yes, I’d spend less time in Ubud, I’d see more temples, I’d rent a scooter in Uluwatu and have ventured to Sanur and Amed -both are less frequented by tourists and look and sound so beautiful! I’d also have been more adventurous with the food. The dog meat scandal happened just before we went on our trip and I was very cautious- I also was really sick from the food when I travelled in South America previously,  so didn’t want to catch anything. (And I hadn’t  gotten my Hep A shot oops!). But I probably missed out on some amazing street food and local experiences that would have really opened my eyes! :(

Oh to travel the world and be paid to do it….

Girls in Bali

SIGH

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healthy meal prep

Mid-year resolutions

So most people list off their to-do’s for the year on January 1st and, well, if you’re anything like me, they can be (FAR TOO QUICKLY!) long forgotten. Rather than look back on mine, I’ve decided to refresh from memory and tell you some plans for the near future:

More travel: I’m heading off to Bali this week coming for 17 days (incl travel obvs!) but am SO excited as I’ve wanted to go there for years. And it’s finally happening. EEEEEK! So far this year I’ve been to Marbella and Prague and I’m also going to head away for another few days to Sweden mid-October (to see Big bro) and MAYBE a few days somewhere sunny before then with my bearded other half.

More study: I’m moving between doing a PT course (not sure what the next step would be though?)  and  Nutrition course at the moment- not distance learning as I find I need to be in the room with people I am learning from and miss the colleague interaction from the current course I was doing online in Nutrition. I’m also looking at doing a short course in Neuroscience and Consumber Behaviour in September as they are both areas I find a little fascinating.

More work: I usually try and squash everything (blog or freelance related!) into Saturday afternoon after I train in the morning and have breakfast (of course) but have found the past few weeks I’m much more productive (could be the sunshine??) later at night- without compromising on my sleep or adding to stress. I only do the fun stuff.

More me-time: I’ve started to go for longer walks again and THIS IS LIFE for me. It’s where I clear my head and readjust the stress barometer. If it’s sunny I walk into and out of work and it’s bloody glorious. I’m also going to focus on getting regular massages/physio- I don’t really drink so I figure this can be my little guilty pleasure. (oh that AND facials!).

More family time: My little brother (who is basically my little child) is moving to Italy. My other brother (my older brother) lives in Sweden so it’s become even more important to take the time to visit and keep the relationships alive and kicking. My nieces and nephew are just everything and I need to focus more on them over the coming months, more calls, more photos, more trips. And instead of Christmas pressies this year we are all pitching in to bring the whole family home. BLISS. Pressies for the kids still obviously. Just none for the big kids. My Dad is now living in Kells so need to get my ass in gear and spend more time there too as he’s always the one visiting me.

More meal-prep: Believe it or not I’ve gotten super lazy in the kitchen- eek! Going to print out my e-books again and get cooking I guess :) Simples.

More cardio: YES I KNOW! Who am I? I’ve found it clears my head. AND I’m seeing some greater improvement in my legs more recently even from walking. WTactualF?!

More friend-time: Something I’m not always good at because I do tend to work a lot and I do like my own space too.  I find the best way for me to spend time with the girls is to plan a day out (I’m not a big drinker) like a hike somewhere. Time to find some new interesting places to go! If I plan time outside Dublin with the girls I find I really feel like I’ve had a break and a proper weekend :)

More skills/hobbies (non-work related!): Finally, this one is a little weird but is definitely an area I need more growth in. I’m toying with the idea of getting back to school to improve my Spanish again as I feel it’s slipping away slowly- I used to live in Barcelona and found that each year it’s slipping away. :( Time to grab the bull y the horns I guess! Another area with more than a little room for improvement is my driving. I just don’t need a car or to drive really, apart from the odd time with work. So, I tend to make excuses all the time not to do lessons. Anyways I’m ahead of myself and have two booked for after Bali- who AM I? Also thinking of doing guitar lessons but figure I’ll get my driving sorted first :)

Less stress: So I’ve taken up yoga at The Edge: Clontarf where I train and find it amazing for stress-relief. Once I get better I suppose I’ll start to practice more on my own too. Wuhu!

How about you guys? Any mid-year resolutions?

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