gratitute, Uncategorized

My Bali Adventures. Day 2

That long awaited sleep had to wait for 10 hours as for the second time in less than a year my Bali trip was affected by an erupting volcano (the same one as in 2017).

So far volcano is definitely winning:

Erupting Volcano 2: Trip to Bali 1

We were told to go to a restaurant to get the food vouchers and have some food while waiting for information. The food wasn’t the best and everyone was knackered.

At 2:20am and 2 coffees after we were told the flight might be delayed for even longer. Then the news arrived that we were to wait til 8am for any further updates.

I made friends with a lovely Swiss girl and we were chatting the whole night in between walking up to the restaurant and walking around the airport. I would have been long fast asleep if I was on my own.

The updates came only about 10am and we could then depart 12noon.

By the time we eventually took off,  we had stayed at the airport for 10 hours. All this was followed up by an 11 hour flight.

The cabin crew and the guys at the airports were super nice and helpful. We also had WiFi on the plane and loads more new movies to watch in between regular feeds ;))

I am very grateful for the fact that the flight went ahead and  we were on our way to the final destination! Some people were stranded for well over 24 hours.

I’m only hoping for good positive flawless holiday! Only onwards and upwards from now on!!


My Bali Adventures. The Intro

The Story That Led To It.

It all started in 2013 when I decided that I just had to have another degree (I had already had one in Linguistics by then) in Business, Management & Marketing. 4 yeas later and many many stressful days and nights that came with it I graduated from UHI with that exact degree and to be honest with not necessarily a wide spectrum of knowledge that I was hoping to get out of the course.

I remember finishing off my last assignment on a module that I had no interest in whatsoever and my daughter wanted to play with me. I yet again gave her the excuse of having to finish yet another assignment. She wasn’t impressed and I felt guilty..again. But when I told her that it was the very last one her eyes lit up! She was so excited and kept asking me if I was ‘pinky promise’ sure it was the last assignment and when I ensured her that it really was she was happy to let me finish it. After graduating I had loads of quality time with Eva taking her out and just being there for her!

I found these 4 years quite stressful, but being stubborn and hating quitting I held up to the end. It was hard, stressful and time consuming. Hats off to Angus for carrying me and my stresses and moods through these 4 years!

And I learnt a good lesson: sometimes quitting isn’t a bad thing. You should go with the gut feeling not with the head sometimes.

So, that summer I thought that I would go away somewhere as a treat for being under so much pressure for 4 years. And I chose Bali!

I booked a retreat in Bali for October 2017, but ended up not flying there as the biggest volcano on the island was just about to erupt any time then. After yet another couple of stressful weeks of trying to decide whether to take that risk and go or stay safe I decided to stay put and transferred the retreat to July 2018.

So here I am now, on my first flight from Inverness to Birmingham with 2 more flights and 18 hours of travel ahead of me (which turned out way more than that!)

clean eating, health and fitness, Uncategorized


sprouted grains

Adding these to your food will give your body a bit of extra goodness!

If you are not familiar with sprouted grains, here’s a bit of information on why we sprout them and what they are.

I sprout wheat at home and add it to kefir, scrambled eggs and salads.

(Wild salmon with scrambled eggs, spinach and sprouted grains)

A regular grain is essentially a seed that you could put in the ground to grow a new seed-producing plant. When you let that grain start to grow, but harvest it before the shoot turns into a full-fledged plant, you end up with sprouted grain. Pretty straight forward, right? Well, here’s where things get more complicated… In order for a shoot to grow, it digests some of the starch inside the seed and uses it as fuel to break through the grain’s outer shell. So, since sprouted grain is lower in starch, it has higher proportions of other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals, compared to unsprouted grains (

“The advantages of sprouted grains are maximized when you are eating the sprouted grains themselves,” (

Sprouted grains are whole grains, and whole grains are healthier than their refined-grain alternatives, like white bread, pasta, and rice.  (

Sprouted Grain: Benefits

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects:

1) sprouting activates food enzymes;

2) sprouting increases vitamin content,

3) sprouting neutralises antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.

When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

Furthermore, sprouted grain and sprouted flours – having been effectively “pre-soaked” do not need to undergo further soaking or souring and are therefore suitable for quick breads, cookies and cakes in a way that sourdoughs and soaked flours are not (

You can always purchase sprouted grain flour online if you don’t want to do it at home.




Despite being on the most underestimated activities, walking has many benefits for your health and fitness.

Although many of us have changed our perception on walking, it still remains one of the most underestimated activities out there. The main reason for this stems from the illusion that a few exercise sessions a week (especially if they are high intensity ones) or going out on runs eliminate the need for taking a walk.

So what is that miracle benefit that can only be achieved by walking?

If fat loss is your goal, incorporate walking into your lifestyle! If you are dealing with too many stresses, going for a walk might be that miracle cure you have been missing! If you want to rebalance your hormones to multiply the post-training/weightlifting/cardio effect, walking is the key to all of the above!

Walking and high-intensity exercises like intervals and weight training are synergistic in their actions. “This is not a calorie phenomena but rather a hormonal one. In order for the body to recover properly, age well, build muscle and burn fat, it needs the correct balance of stress producing hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline) compared to growth promoting hormones (testosterone and human growth hormone,)” (HGH). During an exercise session, the desirable effect is to raise all of these hormones together to maximise fat loss.

However, in the days and hours following an intense workout, it is most beneficial to maximise the levels of growth hormones while minimising the levels of stress hormones. To keep stress levels low, walking should be done at a leisurely pace.

Many fat loss seekers misunderstand that changes in the way your body looks has much to do with changing the way you feel. Stress lowering activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditative practices are wonderful at this. A lower cortisol level along with lower perceived feelings of stress will have a positive impact on fat loss directly through less cortisol activity, and also indirectly through potential decreases in hunger and cravings for sweets or fatty foods, which cortisol will impact. The effect of walking is magnified in a nature setting as feelings of relaxation and comfort are enhanced.

So if fat loss is your goal you should maybe look into:

  • Changing your power walking to leisure walking
  • Whenever possible walk in nature-based settings

walk1Walking anywhere is better than no walking, so if you are nowhere near nature-based settings, any type of leisure walking will still help to balance the nervous system and make you feel more relaxed. In those cases when it is possible, go for a walk in a nature setting like the woods as it seems to have an even greater impact on rebalancing our hormones and making us feel more relaxed and rejuvenated.

Another big problem with walking is taking that first step and actually going for it. If you are very new to walking, start small with a 5-10 minute walk and gradually increase the time and the distance. Have a step goal you want to achieve daily and try and beat it if you can.

This feature is available on a variety of tracking devices (Argus being one of them), which are a great help to stay on track and be accountable for your actions. It all depends on how much you would like to invest into your tracker (or get a free app!), but I would certainly recommend having one.

10,000 steps per day should be the minimum step goal for a more or less active individual. A considerably lower number of steps is ok for those who are just starting to make changes to their lifestyles.

A few tips on how to make walking more fun

  1. Listen to Podcasts. I am a big fan of them and with a busy lifestyle, walking is the only time I can listen to podcasts. They are free and it is amazing how much new up-to-date information you can get out of them. There are so many podcasts out there ranging from comedy to science. (My personal favourite is Tim Ferriss’ podcast).
  2. Get a dog. With a dog, you will have no choice but to take the dog out! Can’t have one? Borrow a dog from somebody or join your friends on a doggie walk! Time flies when you have a walking companion.
  3. Walk different routes. If you can, avoid walking the same route daily to prevent yourself from becoming bored!
  4. Join a local walking group.
  5. Walk on your lunch break and whenever you can get around not using the car!
  6. Walk your kids to school and from school.

There are absolutely millions of ways you can get in these 10,000 steps into your day without even thinking of it or making any effort!

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Achieving small goals brings big satisfaction! Make little changes and you’ll be surprised how easy and quickly it is to reap all the benefits of walking!


3 Easy Steps To Clean Eating

Why do you think it is important to eat clean? The answer is simple: if you want to be healthy, fit, have glowing skin, sleep well and feel great then you should seriously think to incorporate the 80/20 principle into your life (80% – clean, 20% – cheat meals)

3 easy steps to clean eating:

  1. ESTABLISH for yourself what it actually means to eat clean.

In a few words it is: no gluten, no preservatives, no fizzy drinks or shop bought juices; no sugary snacks or shop bought ready meals; no ‘magic’ shakes; cook from scratch; eat fruit and veg and whenever you can go local or organic! (no dairy if possible as well)

  1. Make SMALL changes to your diet. Setting yourself a ginormous goal of going from eating junk to suddenly becoming healthy overnight will most likely lead to failure. Start excluding or cutting down on ‘bad’ foods gradually, i.e. one per week (week 1 – gluten; week 2 – sugary snacks, etc.).

If you do not want to completely cut out gluten from your diet, try and cut down on it (gradually); eat spelt based foods; try rye bread maybe??

  1. Be MINDFUL about food. That means

– learning to eat when you are actually hungry, and not just bored so you decide to snack on a packet of Doritos

– knowing what that food does for your body. Especially if you are lacking some vitamins – eat the foods rich in those! Supplements are great, but nourishing your body (and mind) by naturally absorbing these from real food rather than supplementation is so much better for you.

There is a lot of information online on Vitamins and where to get them from (which foods). If your plate looks like a rainbow (vegetables, berries and fruit of various colours) – there is a very high chance you are consuming most of the required vitamins for your body.

Talking about supplements: my advice for anyone would be to start taking Vitamin D, magnesium, fish oils (or krill oil), and to include spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, etc into your diet (add them to your yogurts or take them with coconut water!) Obviously if you are lacking other vitamins then do take them as well.

Do not go cold turkey and be 100% good with food (unless it works for you). Have a treat, have a cheat meal, do not deny yourself of stuff you like and crave, but have it as a treat, not as a daily routine snack. Pareto’s 80/20 principle can be applied to absolutely any situation, including healthy eating.

Your health and how you feel should become your priority. Would you rather be skinny, hungry and miserable or healthy, fit and content??


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Negative thinking drains you, negative people drain you, negative movies and stories drain you – get rid of them, you do not need them in your life.

Replace every negative thought with a positive one, i.e. instead of thinking ‘I do not have many friends’  go for ‘I have 2 fantastic friends who will stand by me whatever happens, I am so happy to have these people in my life’. Mirror your negative thoughts with positive ones.


This is so trivial but it’s so true! Without digging deep and going into too much detail – healthy people are happy people. The healthier you eat the more energy you have, the clearer you think, the more proactive you are.

 3.     EXERCISE

Yet again… very trivial but true.

–       Exercise makes you happy. –       Exercise and happiness both release endorphins (happy hormones). –       Exercise makes you less anxious, more positive, less stressed –       Exercising helps you to stay in shape –       Exercising make you feel better about yourself (the more you exercise – the more you achieve, and the more you want to achieve)


You have to have a passion in life, whether it’s your job, bringing up your kids; or something you like doing, such as running, swimming, sawing, knitting, being creative in other areas etc. People with a passion are happier people; they do not concentrate on overthinking stuff, they live a life rather that just exist. Passion gives you purpose. In my honest opinion, passionate people are more attractive (not physical attraction); they have that something in them that is drawing people towards them. 

There are a few categories of people:

i.  ‘Empty’ people – those with no drive in life, they merely float through life being stuck in a rut with having no purpose in life…Empty people attract empty people…These are mostly negative people who like to gossip, to have an opinion about everything and everybody instead of concentrating on their own self growth.

ii.  ‘People in the middle’ – these people are trying to find themselves

iii.             Passionate people. 

 These are the people you want to surround yourself with. Pick 5 people most close to you, and you are (or you will be) a representation of what these people are.  The conclusion is: surround yourself with the people that represent what you want to be.  This is not a universal rule, but if you think about it – it works! We choose whom we like and whom we do not like by this or that criterion…


However busy you are (kids, jobs, pets, housework etc) you should always have some quality time for yourself.


It’s great when you can turn your hobby into your job (my case… almost! ;)) Fitness is my greatest passion in life, but I still treat my job as a job though I love what I am doing, that’s why I have a few hobbies to keep me sane.  Having a hobby takes your mind off your everyday routine and it’s cute to have a little hobby or two 😉

7.    SMILE

Smile is contagious. Smiling helps make you feel much much better emotionally, because it releases endorphins, brain chemicals that relieve pain and increase your feelings of contentment. Moreover, smiles are contagious, which means you can increase the happiness of others around you simply by sharing one, whether or not you know the person. If you’d like a very easy and effective way to lighten your own mood and the atmosphere around you, try smiling more, all for the sake of happiness. (

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ― Dr. Seuss


We only live once  – and there are so many things in life we can try out, so many places to see, so much to experience! Don’t just live a life – have a life!


This is a big one for me… I am a very strong believer that we should follow our dreams …You do not know until you have tried…Sometimes we just have to take a risk and do it or we will regret not having done that for the rest of out lives!


This is another biggie for me. Fake people drain you. Don’t you feel that sometimes you are simply wasting your time by talking to somebody who is fake? “It is better be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not” Have a lovely happy healthy day!

Natallia xxxxxxxx

Natallia Maguire

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Are you ready to have a ball?!

This blog is mainly for those who are interested in Fitball exercise classes (Pilates and other classes involving the use of a Swiss ball) or those who would like to do some ball exercises at home.

What are FITBALLS? And no they are not your kids space hoppers 🙂 (though they do look very similar). Apart from numerous benefits (like strengthening core muscles, balance etc) Fitballs are great fun to use and they are quite a challenging piece of equipment at the same time.

The biggest benefit of using swiss balls is that they are very effective at targeting core muscles, those muscles that are essential for stability and good posture but are often overlooked when exercising with fixed position equipment such as those found in gyms. Fitballs are designed to help improve the core muscle groups by focusing on strength, balance, weight distribution, posture and coordination. By developing the core muscles and learning how balance and posture affect these muscle groups, the user can gain a better understanding of how the human body moves and through this understanding learn how to avoid injury.

BALANCE is another major benefit of using the balls: one of the primary purposes of a fitball is to help learn balance. The round shape of the ball makes it inherently difficult to balance on. This creates a need for the user to work harder while exercising as they must not only develop the strength and coordination needed to perform their normal exercise routines, but must also learn to balance on the ball at the same time. This requires the use and toning of even more muscle groups and can greatly enhance the overall benefit of a workout.


       As opposed to performing isolation exercising standing up (targeting just one muscle group) when working out on the ball, which is unstable, your body needs to recruit additional muscles in order to stay balanced. This means that, for example, if you perform a bicep curl whilst sitting on the ball, your body will recruit your deep stabilising abdominal muscles (also known as core muscles), thereby toning your tummy while you tone your arms.

Below is a Fitball size chart. But you will find that not all 65cm balls are actually 65cm (not all 75cm ones are 75cm), some of them will be smaller, some  – bigger (even if it says that on the box). So my advice would be: keep your receipt, inflate the ball, sit on it and check that it is the right size for you. If it is not – deflate and take it back to the shop. If you are not too tall I would always go for a 65cm one, I find 55cm ones are too small.

Your height Ball height
< 150cm Junior 45cm
150 – 165cm Small 55cm
162 – 183cm Medium 65cm
180 – 200cm Large 75cm
198cm + X – Large 85cm

fitball chart

The classes will be starting in Dingwall from May. Please check for all the news and updates.

Have a good day!


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