An Autumn Bucket List

Autumn post header

It’s summer in Scotland and this year I am very thankful for some wonderful warm weather and some very sunny days. We’ve had a record number of BBQs at the cottage, even cooking out multiple times after work, and have sometimes worn shorts and t-shirts – a rare occurrence! However we’ve also had some cooler days when it’s been hard not to think about autumnal clothes and activities.  It’s also been hard not to dread the shortening days and dark mornings/evenings once you pass the longest day so my husband and I have started reminding each other of the nice things we enjoy about the changing seasons. If you’re dreading longer nights too then read on, this post is for you!  Continue reading

Working out first thing – my morning routine

how to work out in the morning

One of the most popular and most pinned posts on this blog is “how to become a morning person”, which I take to mean a lot of people out there would like to be better at getting out of bed in the morning! This is kind of a follow on post from that, it’s an update on how I handle early mornings and how I fit in a workout first thing when my energy is at its best (yes that is 0630…) Continue reading

How to cook quinoa perfectly every time

How to cook perfect quinoa every time, ten tips for cooking quinoa | NotesFromTheShire.com #quinoa #howtocookquinoa #eatclean #healthyeating #cooking #mealprep

If you are into eating healthily, eating clean or have done any research into the two then you can’t have failed to read about quinoa. The super grain is full of protein, is very filling and has a higher nutritional value than brown rice. Where’s the but? But it is a bit of a pain to cook! When I first started eating quinoa (which I then discovered wasn’t called kin-o-ah but keen-wah) I almost gave up first time as it turned into one big mushy mess and nowhere near the fluffy grains I had seen others prepare! But I did some research, I experimented and by trial and a lot of error this is my foolproof method to cooking perfect quinoa.  Continue reading

Meal Prep 101

Food prep

If you follow me on instagram you will know that I am all about packing my own lunches and prepping my meals and snacks for the week on a Sunday so they are all done and dusted and I can just lift them out of the fridge at 6am before hitting the gym. I had always done this but since starting Kayla Itsines’ BBG programme I have been properly dedicated to the cause. I will post more about BBG soon but I’m now on week 14 of Kayla’s guides and love them. If you put in the work you can definitely see results, plus the BBG community is great, very supportive!

First of all, why is meal prep important? Well, ever heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen”? It is true. You can work out and do all the crunches you want but if you aren’t getting your nutrition right – I definitely wasn’t before – then you’re just going to get frustrated – I did! I’m also willing to bet that very few of you have a full service kitchen at work so taking your food with you is pretty important. Not to mention that it will save you a fortune and buying processed/”ready meal” food is going to be full of hidden, abs destroying ingredients. It’s not just lunch either, offices are hot beds of unhealthy snacks so you’re going to need your own snacks to both look forward to throughout the day and help you avoid the biscuits, chocolate and sweets!  So these are my top tips for meal prepping that I have learned whilst doing BBG.  Continue reading

Healthy Baking – chocolate & banana protein muffins

Great healthy baking recipe to try! Chocolate and banana protein muffins. Sugar free, gluten free and high in protein. #Healthybaking #Protein #snack #chocolate #fitness | www.notesfromtheshire.com

As part of my crusade to get my ultimate bikini body I’ve started some experimenting with healthy baking, I’ve made coconut and banana macaroons and done some experimenting with quinoa too… you can read about those here and here! However I think the most successful yet is my recent experiment using coconut flour and protein powder to bake muffins, yummy!  As a bonus these are gluten free, sugar free and can be adapted to be vegan friendly (using an egg substitute). They are also (as you may guess) high in protein so great when you are trying to build lean muscle and burn fat.  Although I’ve not quite mastered getting them to rise particularly well, they taste yummy none the less and it’s great to have a treat without the sugar/bad fat impact. They are also particularly yummy topped with a teaspoon of almond butter as an afternoon/post work snack. You can find the recipe below and let me know how you get on!  Continue reading

Tips & Tricks for getting yourself into the gym

Definitely need to try this! 10 tips for getting yourself to the gym. Motivational tips for a healthy lifestyle|NotesFromTheShire.com #Fitness #Motivation #Health #Gym #TipsandHacks

I know some mornings I just want to turn the alarm off, hide under the duvet and go back to sleep but I don’t, I stagger around, find my gym gear and get to the gym! If you’re struggling to make the transition from bed to the waking world or sofa to gym then these tips are for you!

1. Have a goal – I want to have my ultimate bikini body before I am 30, one year and counting – that keeps me motivated to keep pushing. Before I set this goal I wanted to be toned for our wedding/honeymoon. My intermediate goal is being bikini body ready for this summer. Having a goal to focus on makes getting to the gym and working out a lot easier!  Continue reading

Gym week in review

Get yourself motivated. Bikini body at the ready. NotesFromTheShire.com | Lifestyle Blog

Last week was pretty successful in terms of where I want to be with workouts. After starting a new job in September I had to get into my new routine and also learn to suck up the fact that I needed to sacrifice sleep in order to hit the gym. But if I am going to get my ultimate bikini body before 30 I’m going to have to put the effort in! I also gave up alcohol for Lent (plus another week) which made me feel a lot better, saved a lot of calories and a lot of cash. I will be keeping up the limited alcohol, I really don’t miss it. I had a couple of glasses of good white wine at the weekend with a friend and my husband but it wasn’t the “yay wine!” feeling that I had thought when I originally gave it up – I’d probably rather save the calories (shocking, I know!) Anyway, here is my workout diary and thoughts from last week.   Continue reading

Five Mistakes You’re Making in the Gym!

You need to read this! 5 Mistakes you're making in the gym by Notes from the Shire.

I love working out and trying new exercises, having something different to try out can really make me look forward to a workout. Therefore, as you might imagine, I have spent a lot of time in the gym and learned from a fair few mistakes! I’ve also observed and been told about a few whoppers. I am not a personal trainer (disclaimer!) but I have picked up a few tips from my ten years (and counting) in the gym, so here are 5 mistakes that I regularly see people making or have made myself in the past.  Continue reading

Healthy Snacks


Healthy baking pintested by Notes From The Shire I mentioned in my post, weekend in the Shire that I had tried out some recipes for healthy snacks that I had found on Pinterest. The results were…mixed but I thought I would share them with you here! The recipes were also from the States so I have translated the measures in case you wish to give them a go yourself.  I will link to the original recipes too or you can find them on my “Healthy Food to Make” Pinterest board. As you may know if you have read my ultimate bikini body by 30 post, I am on a bit of a fitness kick up and have, therefore, been scouring Pinterest for recipe ideas for that moment in every day where you really want something sweet, comforting and yummy but at the same time don’t want to load up on sugar or carbs.  Last weekend I tried Coconut Pecan Bars by Momma Young at Home and these have been fab, they are also Paleo friendly if you follow the Paleo diet. I love coconut anyway, which helps, but you also get a lovely hit of banana coming through them and they have the right amount of gooeyness so that they feel like a treat. There’s no added sugar either so a pretty virtuous snack! The recipe with UK measure conversions is below (follow link above for original):  Continue reading

Ultimate Bikini Body before 30!

Bikini body poster

Thirty is looming large for me next year (May 2016) and it just seems like a “big one”. I don’t know why that number is such a big deal but it’s probably because you’re supposed to be really grown up by 30 and career and family start taking up more of your “me” time. Therefore like many people I have a list of things that I want to accomplish before 30 and the one I am telling you about today is my fitness challenge to myself – my ultimate bikini body.  Continue reading