Thursday, 12 October 2017

BRUNCHIN AROUND - MY TOP EDINBURGH PICKS

I love brunch, in fact I live for it!  There's nothing I like more than hitting the gym for an early morning session and then going for brunch after.  Maybe it's because I love pancakes and coffee or the fact that Edinburgh has an abundance of amazing spots.  Of course, I've tried the majority because I'm a massive foodie but here are some of my favourites.

MONTPELIERS
Montpeliers is a longstanding central feature of Edinburgh's vibey and homely Bruntsfield neighbourhood.  The warm and stylishly decorated brasserie is set in perfect surroundings and offers the "The Full Monty" and "The Monty"; two of the best fry ups in town, especially if you're feeling a little ropey after a night on the tiles.  If you're feeling up to it, there's also the option to sit outside and really soak up the atmosphere of the bustling streets of Bruntsfield; a great people watching spot.
The Ivy on the Square
THE IVY
The Ivy on the Square is the newest kid on the block. Just a stones throw away from Princes St, located in the heart of the city at St. Andrews Square, this modern-day brasserie offers a relaxed yet sophisticated brunch spot.  The buttermilk pancakes topped with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and Greek yogurt are drizzled in warm strawberry sauce and are the most flavoursome I've ever had.  With a bright, art deco decor and floor to ceiling windows, it's a perfect spot for watching the world go by on a lazy Sunday morning.
The Restoration Yard
THE RESTORATION YARD
The Restoration Yard is a new favourite hangout.  Located slightly outside the city centre in the grounds of Dalkeith Country Park, it's worth the drive if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and just switch off.
The stunning courtyard, surrounded by reclaimed and renewed 18th century stables is unbelievably picturesque.  The authentic characteristics are carried through into each part of the Restoration Yard, including the bright cafe which overlooks The Orangery.
Their menu features an array of delicious options, produced from locally sourced ingredients and changes seasonally, so you'll never get bored.
Urban Angel
URBAN ANGEL
Wanting a healthy and tasty brunch, then look no further than Urban Angel.  The effortlessly cool cafe on Hanover Street has an ethos of keeping things natural and offers a flexible menu full of locally sourced, organic ingredients.  Their menu consists of fresh juices and smoothies, granola, acai bowls, eggs benedict and French toast.  You'll leave feeling like a healthy god/goddess.

My list of brunch spots could go on forever and below are some more recommendations:

Papii - A must if you're a waffle lover!
The Pantry - A brilliant place to stop for a spot of brunch whilst wandering the streets of Stockbridge.
Piecebox - A vintage style cafe with a tea room-esque feel.  A lovely spot for coffee, breakfast and a slice of cake.

A.x
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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE - 5 TOP TIPS

So, in the world of social media, strong seems to be the new skinny, with more and more girls stepping into the weights area of gyms.

Five years ago, when I first had a personal trainer I told him one of my goals was to grow my bum, to which his response was "you're the first girl to ever want that.  Usually girls want to make it smaller", but I've always been a girl all about those curves.  Gone are the days of asking "does my bum look big in this?" because having a big booty is a thing all us girls strive for... we're forever chasing those booty gains, aren't we?!

So if you're new to resistance training and you're not sure where to start or what you're doing, then I think my top 5 tips might help a little, so keep on reading.

1. REDUCE YOUR CARDIO
Yes you heard right!  Doing too much cardiovascular excercise on top/in addition to your weight training will only slow down the muscle building process.  This is because it increases your energy expenditure (burns more calories).  When trying to build muscle you want to be in a calorific surplus (eating more calories than you're burning) and give your body time to recover properly.  Reducing the amount of cardiovascular exercise will help muscles recover and grow quicker in response to your weight training.  So if you're trying to build muscle then step away from the treadmill, unless you're using it to warm up.

2. EAT TO GROW
You probably won't believe me when I tell you this because girls tend to always watch what they eat, but your body needs energy to grow muscle and you're not going to grow any if you're in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you're consuming).  More food equals more energy and more energy means you're able to train harder, recover faster and grow quicker, so eat up!  If you're looking to add lean muscle and shape increase your calories, however this doesn't mean you can devour a whole tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream on a Saturday night, instead you want to have a balanced diet of protein, carbs and fat. 

3. PROTEIN INTAKE 
If you hadn't noticed when food shopping that just about every item now has the word "protein" written somewhere on the front of the packaging; obviously for marketing purposes.  Protein is key for muscle growth, with the recommended daily intake being 1.5-2 grams per kg of body weight.  You want to be attempting to hit your protein target each day and ideally you want to be consuming this from natural food sources if you can, for example meat, dairy and eggs, rather than taking it in a supplement form.  By no means is there any harm in drinking protein shakes (I do myself), but if you're consuming them without exercising properly then they won't help you build muscle.  

4. CHALLENGE YOURSELF 
Your muscles will only grow when they're stressed, so if you're lifting weights that are too light then you're unlikely to see much change in your body.  You should be looking to start fatiguing on the last 2-3 reps of each exercise or progressively overload (increasing sets/reps/intensity) in each session.  If you're not then it's time to increase the weights.  You need to challenge and push yourself in each training session for it to be worthwhile, but never compromise your technique over the weight you're lifting. 

5. GET SOME SLEEP
Getting enough sleep each night is just as important as training hard and eating well.  Sleep is so valuable in order to restore your energy levels and help with the receovery process.  You should be aiming to get around 8-9 hours per night.  So, at night time give yourself some time to wind down, relax and step away from your phone. 

If you're looking for more advice on any of the above then drop me a line at the_luminouslife@hotmail.com and I'll be happy to help where I can.  

Happy Lifting!

A.x



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Sunday, 20 August 2017

RESET & RELAX AT THE RESTORATION YARD


As you drive along the off beat track, surrounded by trees that almost create a canopy, you begin to relax as you leave the hustle & bustle of the city behind.

At the end of the road, you're met with the most stunning courtyard, surrounded by reclaimed & renewed 18th century stables, which are home to the Restoration Yard, Restoration Cafe & the Wellbeing Lab.


The Wellbeing Lab is a spacious, loft studio which holds Pilates & Yoga classes, as well as a number of other services and was the reason for my trip to this stunning location, just 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh.  Being someone who is relatively new to Pilates, I was instantly made to feel at ease and found the class a way to relax, reset and switch off from my busy life; something I find extremely hard to do.


After the class, I headed through the courtyard to the Restoration Cafe for breakfast.  The authentic characteristics are carried through into this bright, relaxing space and the food did not disappoint.  I would go as far as saying the pancakes are some of the best I've tried... although I've heard they've taken them off the menu.  Please bring them back!


Once you're full to the brim there's only one thing left to do, shop!!  And OMG what a shop it is.  As soon as you walk through the door, you're presented with some of the most carefully selected and beautiful products that are impeccably merchandised.  From homeware and fashion to health and beauty, there's something for everyone.  In fact, I now have an extensive wish list.  What's more is the products have been so carefully hand picked, they're almost unique and for me that's always a plus!


So if you're looking for somewhere to switch off and relax, try out a class, grab a coffee and cake, or just go for a wander round the grounds, then the Restoration Yard at Dalkeith Country Park is the place to go.  It's definitely my new favourite hang out!

A.x
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