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Things can get hectic in the run up to Christmas so along with Barilla I have put together some healthy and nutritious quick and easy dishes.

I have been working with Barilla the past few months to help promote their TriHeroes campaign. There are so many reasons why this campaign is of interest to me. As I work in the area of mental health awareness and health coaching its so important to understand the real benefits of sport. When I was in school a lot of us dropped out of gym class and ate bad food. This affects your performance academically, mentally and physically.


Recent Sport Ireland research has shown that students who play sport achieve, on average, higher points in the Leaving Cert than those that do not. It also highlighted that swimming; cycling and running are the most likely sports to be continued into adult life.

The workload is school can be overwhelming and very often exercise can be dropped early on. This schools triathlon programme gives students the chance to participate in a healthy and active lifestyle and have fun. 




  • Enough pasta for 2 people (I used Barilla pasta which really grips the sauce)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • ¾ broccoli florets
  • 1 avocado
  • 125ml single cream
  • 3 generous Tbsp. Barilla basil pesto
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Copped basil to serve


Boil water and put in pasta with some salt

  • Pour oil into a hot pan and then add garlic and onions until they are softened.
  • The add chicken cooking slowly and when half cooked
  • Add in Broccoli
  • Add in peas just a couple of minutes towards the end
  • Pour in the cooked pasta and
  • Spoon in 3 large spoons of pesto
  • Stir well and serve with a half sliced avocado and garnish with chopped fresh basil

Barilla calling on students to unlock their inner TriHero

Primary and secondary schools are being encouraged to register for TriHeroes, a schools triathlon programme which brings together the lifelong activities of swimming, cycling and running to inspire, motivate and challenge children to participate in a healthy and active lifestyle.

The TriHeroes programme, delivered by Triathlon Ireland and supported by Barilla, a family owned Italian food company and advocate for a healthy lifestyle, helps teachers introduce triathlon activities in a safe and positive environment.

Delivered by Triathlon Ireland’s development team, the programme is typically run over six 90-minute training sessions with students taking part in a mini triathlon at the end of the programme giving students a taste of this hugely popular sport and exposing them to three sports that could see them excel in the Leaving Cert and later life.

Primary and secondary schools can find out more about the TriHeroes programme at www.triathlonireland.com and register their interest at schools@triathlonireland.com.

A gourmet selection of recipes, perfect for budding triathletes and prepared with seasonal ingredients for vegetarians, as well as meat and fish lovers is available at www.barilla.co.uk.

New to Yoga? Don’t know what all the fuss is about?

Here are my top 10 reasons to try it

For a newcomer to yoga you might find that explanations like “It increases the flow of prana” or “It brings energy up your spine” fall on deaf or sceptical ears! Or seeing someone in an inverted head stand pose gets you thinking – “Oh Heck! I could never do that”!

Please don’t be put off by this. Yoga really is for EVERYONE. All ages, genders, shapes and sizes. There are many styles of Yoga, some are fast paced, others are gentle. It’s just about finding a class that resonates with you.

Yoga means Union – The union or the connection between mind and body, and body with spirit. It really means to establish a connection back home to yourself.

To truly understand yoga and reap its overall benefits is to engage this union, this connection between mind, body and spirit. Yoga is about releasing tightness and tensions from the muscles but also from your internal world of thoughts and emotions.

When you begin to fully embrace the practice of yoga, you will be taken on a spiritual journey! You will begin to FEEL its transformative effects, not just in body, but in mind and soul.

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  1. Yoga improves your self- esteem, increases self- awareness and boosts confidence levels. By stretching and squeezing the body and by incorporating various breathing exercises you begin to unlock stagnant or stale energy and release blockages in your energy field (also known as your Chakras). When you breathe, stretch, release and let go, both physically and mentally, you begin to heighten your awareness and elevate your vibrational energy field. As a result, you end up feeling lighter, taller, stronger and more confident in the body, and clearer in the mind.


  1. Yoga increases core strength, improves muscle tone and helps maintain a healthy body weight. Without any doubt, regular yoga increases muscle tone and helps build abs! Yoga can influence weight loss, but often it is not in the “traditional” sense of how we link physical activity to weight loss. Depending on your yoga class – for example; HOT yoga or Bikram yoga can burn up to 1000 calories per class, as it is an intense workout style of yoga. Other gentler yoga practices often burn fewer calories than traditional exercise (e.g., running, cycling); however, yoga can increase one’s mindfulness and sense of self -care, so the way one relates to their body is different. We begin to love ourselves enough not to over eat or self-sabotage, which is a much more rewarding and life changing outcome.


  1. Yoga Detoxifies the body and can prevent against disease. As you twist and rotate and stretch and squeeze, it massages the internal organs and brings fresh blood supply to enable them to function at their best.


  1. Yoga helps decrease stress and anxiety and reduce nervous tension. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, emotional eating, substance abuse and so on. Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing can really help improve a person’s mental well-being. It can be useful in reaching a more calm and centred state and help achieve a more positive outlook on life.


  1. Yoga increases flexibility, mobility, stability and improves posture. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga, along with increased strength and muscle tone. Strong muscles do more than look good. They also protect us from conditions like arthritis and back pain. The combination of the above will results in less injury and reduced aches and pains in the body.


  1. It increases concentration, focus and mental clarity.  A big part of yoga is maintaining balance and being present in the moment. This transfers into life off the mat. Regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and brings more stability and balance in our physical and emotional world.


  1. Yoga provides energy, vitality and improves the immune system. When you contract and stretch muscles, move organs around, and come in and out of yoga postures, you increase the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells). This helps the lymphatic system fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of the toxic waste products of cellular functioning.

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  1. Yoga improves sleep and enhances inner peace. At the end of a yoga class you come into the gorgeous savansa pose – ‘corpse pose’ for a mediation as part of a cool-down sequence. At this point the body is relaxed, which enables the mind to become quiet. This is often where people get great moments of insight and feel utter inner peace. This definitely helps to enhance a state of easy slumber.


  1. Yoga improves your emotional intelligence. Emotionally yoga teaches us how to be loving and compassionate toward ourselves, because as human beings, we have self-defeating and self-limiting tendencies. Practicing yoga brings the content of our beings to the surface so we can see it. Inside the muscles, we hold the memories of every emotion we’ve ever experienced: sadness, fear, anger, love etc. Through the asanas (postures), we can tap into these memories and process our pasts. It’s the asanas that release the emotions out of the body.


  1. Yoga helps to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and elevate your sense of self-care. In yoga, we come onto the mat to stop. To listen. To feel. We come on the mat to get some stillness in a world that is often so chaotic. We get on the mat to re-connect back to ourselves, to centre ourselves and to in effect ground ourselves. By doing this, it enables us to feel more gratitude in our lives. It allows us to feel our heart beating and to honour this life that we have. It provides us with some time and space to simply just be. To self-care, self soothe and reconnect.

If yoga is a new concept to you, I hope you can embrace it with an openness and a willingness, and enjoy the journey it takes you on.


As we move out of the winter months we might want to put a spring in our step by upping our physical game. With the best of intentions the winter simply doesn’t lend itself to a lot of physical exertion due to dark nights and cold mornings. After winters gestation period spring is an opportunity and a time for rebirth. It’s a chance to look at the world through fresh eyes and also try something new.

When it comes to exercise I like to switch up my routine as we enter a new season. To be honest I get bored and I love to challenge my body by switching up my classes.

I’m a huge fan of Reformer Pilates and I can credit these classes with helping me to regain my post baby body a few years ago. It’s been quite a while though since I took a class though but I decided to return to Pilates Performance Ireland (PPI) in Dundrum and see if the passion was still there.

reformer pilates, positively physical, exercise, full body workout, pilates performanceThe Reformer is a bed like frame with springs and straps attached! Don’t let that frighten you because the best thing about this exercise is that your back and body are supported by the bed at all times which is great for me as I have a bad back from a car accident. The Reformer gives you a full body workout and it also helps to build a very strong core. Half way through the class I felt a huge smile appear on my face as I realized just how much I missed these classes.

I felt grounded and really connected to my body as the instructors encourage you to really use your breath with each movement. It’s a potent destressing exercise for many reasons. The deep breathing helps to calm your central nervous system and the movements help to really move your energy through your body. Your circulation gets a boost, your spine and muscles are stimulated and of course those feel good hormones wake up and start to flood your body too.

Because of the strong focus on core strength your balance and posture will also be improved and in an age of computers where we sit at desks for long periods of time I welcome any exercise that helps with that. Your flexibility will also increase and what I like is that it really helps to give you a lean shape and stretches out the muscles as opposed to bulking them.

IMG_1893 Pilates Performance Ireland offer a wide range of classes suitable for all levels and abilities. You can also book personal sessions which I would advise anyone who has injuries or back problems to do as the owner Sarah MacLachann who is a Pilates master is excellent and can really help you to get to the root of your problems and work slowly with you to build your strength back up.

**As printed in Positive Life Magazine

I like trying new and different exercise classes, primarily because I get bored and my body does too. Recently I have been trying lots of new and interesting exercise classes and styles in London. Here are two of my recent favourites Calisthenics and TRX Yoga Core.


blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

I had heard a lot about Blok London and met them at the Jack Wills press morning back in January so I was eager to get down there and try a class.

I decided to try a Calisthenics class, primarily because I had never heard of it and before I took the class I had absolutely no idea what to expect. As you can see I like the element of surprise and boy was I surprised but in a good way. Calisthenics is a Greek word meaning beauty and strength and it has four components basics, conditioning, strengthening and freestyle!

blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

It’s a full body workout using your own body weight. It was a very interesting class for me personally as I learnt a lot about how I feel in my body in a very different way to yoga and Pilates. Some fears crept up and even though I tried to push through I realized I have some body confidence work to do.

One of the reasons I like to add variety into my life and not just stick to the same routine is because I find when you get used to something it becomes boring and mundane. Also when you challenge yourself and switch things up you learn something new about yourself and we never stop learning, growing and evolving in this lifetime. It’s like a little shake up to keep things interesting.


blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga


I really tuned into my body in the class and noticed areas of weakness and pain and felt motivated to work on different things and push myself that bit harder.

The Calisthenics class really brought me into the space of mindset and how limiting it can be for us. Getting our body and mind to work together is so important and understanding that our mind can be a limiting factor in our growth and potential is the first step towards understanding that we can change it.

The teacher Jermaine Hunter has an amazing approach to fitness and wellbeing. He looks at everything through a 360 lens, which I love. He reads the class and pushes you to your own individual potential. I’ll definitely be back and I look forward to the day when I can do a handstand too!!


blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

The next morning the sun was shining and I was up bright and early to try out a TRX Yoga Core class at Ethos in Spitalfields market in East London with Lisa Hood. I was intrigued at how yoga and TRX could be merged or if it was even really a possibility. I absolutely loved it though and I was pleasantly surprised at the nice flow I managed throughout most of the class.

Again I tuned in to stronger and weaker aspects of my strength, which leaves me encouraged to keep working on my upper body strength. I struggled a lot at the end of the class with core work and exercises that moved us towards a headstand. Hopefully one day soon I will blog about finally managing to do a great headstand!

blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

Just like the Calisthenics class the TRX/Yoga mix really worked your entire body. I

always try and work with my breath to go deeper with any exercise I do. I used to hold my breath a lot, which I only realized when a teacher pointed it out to me. Your body moves easier with your breath. Think of yourself as one big team: mind, body and spirit and your breath is like the glue that ties it all together. So use your breath wisely both in and out of exercise class!

I try and push my body a little further each time I exercise but I have learnt that it’s about beating my personal best and not looking around the room like I used to. Like anything in life there will always be people better and worse than you. When you make yourself the competition it’s a game changer.

blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

The Ethos at Ethos – I love the last one!

Both gyms have great juice and smoothie bars. After my class at Blok I had some bone broth which is rich in mineral that support the immune system and a green detox smoothie full of yummy goodies like spirulina, pineapple – apple – spinach – kale – ginger – lemon – chlorella – wheatgrass and barleygrass. I topped that off with a turmeric latte, which is my new hot drink obsession.

blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yoga

Cafe at Ethos

At ethos I had a wake up shake up (it was 7AM!), which was so tasty. It had bananas, strawberries, oats, almond milk and vanilla protein.

blok london, fitness, classes, london fit fam, be complete, feelgood, wellness, wellbeing, alison canavan, gyms london, ethos, calisthenics, TRX, yogaI’m really enjoying my little exercise ventures! Next up Reformer Pilates and Barre, I can’t wait!


Keep Moving and Shining Bright


Ali xxx

Join James and I for some freedom, fun and adventure this National Bike week

We’re all pressed for time theses days and fitting exercise in seems to be impossible sometimes. I will admit that exercise is something I have been doing very little off recently due to a back injury but it’s something I really need in my life for so many reasons. When I exercise I feel better about myself physically, mentally and emotionally and kids are no different and with chronic disease and obesity levels on the rise our kids really need to be outdoors as much as possible.

The weather has been incredible recently but as we all know this is not a luxury we can take for granted in Ireland so we need to take full advantage of it when it’s here. James and I were asked to be ambassadors for National bike week  which started on June 11th and finishes on June 19th and as James came off his stabilizers recently you can imagine his enthusiasm is through the roof at the moment.

Over the past few weeks we have been cycling everywhere including to school, visiting friends, shopping and having picnics. Both of us were a bit “wibbly wobbly wonderish” in the beginning but now instead of hopping in the car every few minutes we are hopping on our bikes.

The best part about taking to our bikes is that we have been having so much fun and it’s a great way to get out together as a family. I also realized just how much I use the car for really short trips! If you find it hard to get the time to exercise and want to spend quality time with your family cycling is the perfect solution. I met a family with four kids on Saturday and they said they cycle everywhere as it’s a great way for them to spend quality time together.


Cycling has so many health benefits. Studies have shown that it is one of the most efficient ways to lose weight and also boost brainpower. Canadian neuroscientist Brian Christie, PhD says “Exercise is like fertilizer for your brain. All those hours spent turning your cranks create rich capillary beds not only in your quads and glutes, but also in your gray matter. More blood vessels in your brain and muscles mean more oxygen and nutrients to help them work.” For this reason it’s the perfect choice for leaving cert students this week on the way to exams.

It’s also great news for the whole family as today we are trying to cope with increasing stress levels along with mental health difficulties.


[bctt tweet=”Cycling can help to banish the blues and decrease anxiety and stress but more importantly it’s a great way to bond with each other in a more fun, unforced way.” via=”no”]

Cycling can help to banish the blues and decrease anxiety and stress but more importantly it’s a great way to bond with each other in a more fun, unforced way.

Don’t worry about your fitness levels either as riding is a low impact exercise for all ages. Cyclists who cycle regularly are seen to be on the same fitness level to those ten years younger and three hours of cycling per week can reduce the risk of heart disease by a whopping 50%!

So in a nutshell cycling can help to protect you from serious diseases such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. It strengthens your bones and improves posture and coordination too. If you’re worried about your pocket and lets face it most of us are, it is also much lower in cost than travelling by public transport or a car. If you spend as little as €1.20 daily on travel (bus fare, Luas fare or petrol) you can save €200 a year by switching to a bike! It’s also environmentally friendly, as it cuts congestion and has zero emissions and is surprisingly easy to fit into your daily routine.


[bctt tweet=”But please remember safety first and wear your helmets at all times and at night wear a high vis jacket along with lights on your bike.” via=”no”]

But please remember safety first and wear your helmets at all times and at night wear a high vis jacket along with lights on your bike.

Believe it or not commuting by bike to work, college, and school or just to go to the shops is also a much faster way to travel. SmarterTravel.ie estimates that approximately 400,000 people in Ireland travel 4 kilometres or less to work or school or college by car every day – distances that could easily be cycled. Cycling is the fastest mode of transport for journeys of 6 kilometres or less in urban areas especially during peak rush hour and school run times.

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So get on your bikes and join in the fun. Follow me on social media for lots of great updates including snapchat (alicanavan78) There are so many events happening nationwide so to find one near you log onto www.bikeweek.ie

We all let our hair down over christmas but you can exercise damage control and have fun too and to be honest you just simply feel better when you get up and get moving even if its just for 20-30 minutes a day. I train in Body Byrne so I asked them would they share some healthy holiday tips with my readers. So thank you Mike for these great tips and exercises!

General health tips for the holiday season:

Eat as close to nature as possible

If organic food is not available look for free range options

Use coconut oil, olive oil, or rapeseed oil as all are healthier cooking options.

Talk to your local butcher about where they source their meat and produce from.

Eat enough to be satisfied but not stuffed; remember that leftovers are just as good!

Substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate

Always try and use real brown sugar as opposed to low-fat or synthetic versions

*TOP TIP: Our bodies need fuel to convert to energy, the better the quality of food the better our engine will run.


If possible start your day with a 30 min to 60 minute walk, followed by one or all of the exercises below.

1st SET

  1. All fitness levels (ages 13 & up)
  2. 1st thing in the morning 3 forearm planks/ 30-60 seconds dependent on fitness level.  15 second rest in between.
  3. 3 sets of press-ups 10-20 reps each. The option here is to be on your knees to make it easier.
  4. Chair dips: please be careful to make sure the chair or bench is secure and safe to handle the weight! 3 sets 10-20 reps each.

2nd SET

  1. All fitness levels (ages 13 & up)
  2. Mountain Climbers 30 seconds/ moderate pace. 3 sets
  3. Body weight squats/ Chest up, brace your core, sit back making sure knees do not come over your toes! Push up through your heels! 3-sets of 12 reps each.
  4. Body weight lunges/ Chest up, brace your core, push through your front heel! 3 sets/12 reps each.


This week we’re doing pressups and each week we’ll take you through exercises that are easy to do at home.

Do 3 sets of 12 reps for these press ups and believe me you’ll feel it!


Don’t be alarmed by how terrified I look. We are 50 minutes into a training session so I’m pretty beat! This exercise is great for targeting your bingo wings and are actually quite easy and simple to do at home. Siobhan recommends 3 x sets of 12 reps to start and watch those arm get nice and toned!