The Kayla Phenomenon

Today I started the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide (BBG) in earnest.  And  boy, what a tough workout!

For those of you who don’t know (where have you been?), Kayla is an Australian personal trainer who is currently taking the fitness word by storm!  She has amassed a huge following on Instagram (3.3m and counting, known as the Kayla Army – check out KAYLA_ITSINES), completed her first world tour offering free bootcamps and has several of these workout and nutrition guides.  Most importantly, she’s really lovely too (I randomly bumped into her in restaurant toilets in Melbourne earlier this year!).  So if she’s this popular these workouts must, erm, work, right?

Kayla 2

BBG 1.0 is a 12 week programme that gradually increases in intensity.  It’s a mix between HIIT (high intensity interval training) and the slightly less familiar LISS (low intensity steady state cardio).  The workout guide alone is 189 pages long! And no, its not all workouts.  In fact, Kayla has developed this programme so at just 28 minutes long, each workout can fit into the busiest of schedules – no gym required.  I get the feeling she’s a ‘no excuses’ kind of gal!

So what, I hear you ask, is in the other 131 pages?  Well, that’s the great thing.  Whether you are a complete exercise newbie, seasoned gym bunny or new mum (sorry new dads!), the principles of the exercise programme are fully explained along with clear, step-by-step instructions for each move.  This means you really learn about what it is you are doing rather than just being told the exercise is good, meaning you can apply these principles to future workouts of your own.

BBG guide

After session one of 12 weeks it looks like I’ve got a tough road ahead.  I may not end up looking like a ridiculously toned, bronzed Australian goddess but I hope to be the best version of myself.  As the saying goes “No one said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it”.


Strawberry cake with coconut whipped cream

It’s been incredibly busy here at The Little Cotswold Kitchen recently so apologies for the lack of posts!  To tide you over here is a great sweet treat that I baked with a friend visiting from Switzerland recently.  Hard to believe that something so delicious can be free from modern food nasties, but it is.  If you want to serve with the coconut whipped cream make sure to chill the can of coconut milk overnight first.  Alternatively it’s just as delicious with regular whipped cream!


For the strawberry cake:

170g of butter or coconut oil (I used coconut oil as I’ve never baked with it before and was curious)

300g ground almonds (or gluten-free flour)

1tsp baking powder

170g coconut sugar or honey (honey is easier to find in your local supermarket!)

1tsp vanilla extract

3 large eggs

300g strawberries, hulled and cut in half


Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3. Generously grease a 23cm cake tin with butter or coconut oil and line with baking paper.

Mix the ground almonds or gluten-free flour and baking powder in a large bowl.  Put the butter or coconut oil, coconut sugar or honey and vanilla into the food processor, and blitz until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate, then slowly add the flour.  Transfer the cake mix to a bowl, and fold in the strawberries.  Stir well together, pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes.


For the whipped coconut cream:

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon


To make the coconut cream, place the unopened, upside-down can of coconut milk in the fridge, and leave it overnight. Place a bowl in the fridge next to it.

Open the can and drain out the coconut milk that has separated from the cream.  Place the milk in a glass (this can be used to make smoothies, or drunk while you make the cream).

Scoop the cream out of the can and put it into the chilled bowl. then whip it with a handheld electric mixer until it fluffs up.  Add the cinnamon, and whip again.

You can also add honey, raw cacao or vanilla to the whipped coconut cream for more flavour and sweetness.


(Both recipes from Madeline Shaw, Get the Glow)

A land Down Under

It’s true.  I’m in love.

Not with a man, with a country. Australia.  To those that know me this will come as no surprise.  The smell of the eucalyptus, the heat, the vast landscape and the beautiful cities, the friendly and diverse faces passing you on the street, the food, the wine, the people in general, the culture…

12 apostles

I’ve been lucky enough to visit this country four times, spending the best part of a year there in 2011.  On my latest trip in January this year something became very clear for me.  I’d always enjoyed my trips and had a fantastic time living in Melbourne – I wasn’t ready to come back to the UK but hey, that’s immigration for you!

Flinders Street

This time however, I flew up to Sydney to visit an old school friend.  As we were coming in to land I looked out the window at the sprawling city of Sydney.  And that’s when it hit me.  Australia felt like home.


Sydney Harbour Bridge


I’d never had this feeling before but I just knew, and for a moment, couldn’t imagine going back to my home in the Cotswolds.  Madeline Shaw in the introduction of her book ‘Get the Glow’ sums it up perfectly for me:

“From the minute I landed in Oz I felt at home.  It was the strangest feeling.  A sense of calm washed over me and I knew deep in my gut that I had to live there – that somehow this place would help me uncover the true me.”

I think no matter where I find myself in the world, my heart will always be in Australia.