Hola! If you don’t know me already, my name is Justine. I am a half Italian, half English 20-something girl living in sunny Dubai! I was born and raised in Spain which is where I call “home”. Growing up with an Italian family it was inevitable I was going to become a foodie! In true Mediterranean style, we Ferrarelli’s love our food.
I was always fascinated by cooking from a young age. I would watch my parents busy in the kitchen and would always help out when I could (and I don’t just mean by eating the food!). We were very much a family who loved our food, and let me tell you,we ate well! Home cooking was a normality for me growing up; our chips were always homemade, not a McCain in sight! Pizza nights would involve us all getting our hands dirty, rolling out the dough and picking our favourite toppings.
If we went out for dinner it was usually to a local, traditional Spanish or Italian restaurant that served good, hearty, home cooked grub! Don’t get me wrong, my family were not overweight in the slightest, as much as we loved food we were all fit and relatively healthy. My parents went to the gym regularly, my brother was always playing football or doing some other form of sport and I was always an active girl. I went swimming, attended dance & gymnastic classes, loved to roller blade, which luckily helped me to maintain a fit figure throughout my teens. I started dancing at the age of 5 and joined a theatre school on weekends which eventually, at the age of 16, lead me to the UK to continue with Dancing and Performing Arts.
I was never a fussy eater growing up, I would eat near enough anything that was put in front of me and enjoyed vegetables and fruit just as much as I enjoyed an ice cream or chocolate! I was always quite naive to the effects food could have on my mind and body. I guess I never really had to worry about gaining weight, so I was never overly conscious about what I was eating on a day to day basis. That is until I hit my early 20s…. I had not long come out of an emotionally draining, unhealthy on/off 4 year relationship which drove me to move to Leeds to start a new life. I spent the first 6 months living the typical student lifestyle (You could say I adapted to the single student life like a fish to water!). I started drinking a lot more than I had ever done before, which resulted in late nights, poor diet choices, no exercise and shamelessly eating greasy take aways at 3 am. All in all, a period where I generally neglected my health.
As time went on I started to feel lethargic, I was falling ill more often and I could visibly see a change in my figure. OK, I was far from “fat”, but I looked bloated all over. My thighs seemed fuller, my face a little chubbier and I had mini muffin top over my jeans! I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day and feeling completely horrified! How did this happen? It just seemed to happen overnight like a nasty outbreak of spots! In my head I was fat and nothing anyone could say to me would change my mind. I would compare myself to old photos and to other girls I’d see out and slowly found myself depressed about my image. I had struggled for years with low self-esteem and not feeling pretty enough, but hating my body was a whole new feeling altogether.
I decided I had to make a change. I went to see a doctor about constantly falling ill, feeling tired and struggling with regular tummy pain. After a few tests and appointments we soon discovered I had developed an intolerance to lactose and that I suffered from IBS. This was the crucial turning point in my life. I began working at Virgin Active Health Club around the same time and took full advantage of the free gym membership. I started to train regularly and soon discovered that the gym wasn’t all just hamster wheeling and cross trainers! It opened my eyes to a new meaning of the gym. I became addicted and it wasn’t long before I got ‘the bug’. Following my new love for the gym I began to take more of an interest in nutrition, I would speak with Personal Trainers on shift about what I should and shouldn’t be eating and learnt so much. I began to geek up on food groups, finding alternatives to dairy/gluten and learning what our bodies needed to function from day to day. With this knowledge I started to experiment with my cooking at home and sure enough I started to see a change in myself, not only physically but mentally.
Since that day I’ve never really looked back! Naturally I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times (I’m only human), but I’ve never let myself fall off completely. I’ve fallen in love with creating nutritious meals. My love for fitness and cooking has grown over time. I am always thinking of alternative ways to still enjoy my favourite meals without the guilt. Most people hear “healthy food” and automatically think tasteless and boring but I PROMISE you that is not the case.
So give it a chance, forget the diets! I know it sounds cliché but honestly it is about a change of lifestyle and learning to love that lifestyle. Change will come easily once you change your thought process about food and fitness, there is nothing you can’t do without a positive mind set and self-belief. I truly believe anyone can learn to love real, nutritious food without feeling restricted.
That’s why I’ve created this blog. I want to share my nutritious, healthy, easy recipe ideas with you and prove you can LOVE food without harming your body. I am hoping to inspire you to be the you you never dreamed you could be and motivate you to make a step in the right direction. It is never too late for change, so let’s do this!