Bronte Aurell, 38, is the owner of ScandiKitchen, a Scandinavian café and grocery store which stocks 600 food products. Although originally from Denmark, she lives in Kensal Green with her business partner and husband Jonas, and their daughters, Elsa, 4, and Astrid, 6 (who arrived on the same day as the café). Bronte keeps fit to feel good, live longer, and inspire her children.
What made you get fit? I had babies and I ate too much pie. It was as simple as that. Then I got weaker and weaker and my body started complaining of all sorts. I even got kidney stones. I realised there was no magic pill that would ever make me feel as good as having a healthy body.
Describe your body…
It’s my temple. We’re good friends now. When I got back to being fit, I finally made peace with my body. In my mid thirties, we became good friends after years of wondering why I wasn’t like the people in the magazines.
When I look in the mirror I see a mum-of-two with a normal amount of bits that wobble but none so much that it matters. I’m happy with what it looks like because – being a runner – clothes just FIT. They hang better, they feel better. I’m reasonably tall and in proportion. Getting fit means things don’t sag anymore and I think I have a better body now than before I had kids, when I spent way too much time eating out in restaurants and enjoying wine bars. Would I swap my body for anyone else’s? Not really. It’s mine.
Ever been overweight? Yes – after I had the kids, the excess of pies/chocolates/cakes meant the weight piled on. It all became about the kids eating good stuff but not me. I was 87 kg at one point, size 16-ish.
One day, I started walking because I needed space and time to think more. I realised I could walk to work all the way along the canal– and save the stressful journey on the Tube. It wasn’t really a weight thing, although I wasn’t that well being large. I enjoyed walking a lot and kept it up. Then my husband bought me a pair of trainers because I was walking long distances in silly shoes. When he did, the trainers made me run. Genuinely, It was like that. I got those fancy trainers for my birthday (Nike Lunarswift), I put them on and went for a walk. I suddenly started to run. I didn’t stop. Now, I’m a size 10 and I weight about 65kg.
Describe your typical training week…
Monday is rest day as I usually do long runs on Sundays. Tuesday I run for about 7-8 km, then I either swim or walk on the Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I run – usually between 8-14 km either day. Saturday I try to stay active with the kids. Sunday I do my long runs. At the moment I’m training for another marathon so this Sunday I ran 35km, but usually, I like to go for a long run of 25-26km. It clears my head and I feel at peace with myself afterwards. I am usually training for a marathon or something. At the moment, it’s Amsterdam. I’m running in London in April 2014 so when I’m done with Amsterdam, training for London starts. I’ve told my husband that London will be my last marathon, but I think it was a fib.
Is there a person that is instrumental in your training? My friend Laura. I would have never believed I could do a marathon if it wasn’t for her. Laura runs marathons and she’s really good at it. I used to admire her for running and she always offered me to join her on short runs but I never did. One day, we ran together and we realised we were a good match, pace wise – and soon, we were doing 20-25k on weekend mornings for fun. She’s the kind of friend who will get up at 5am on a Saturday morning to travel across London just to meet you at 7:30 for a long-run. Not many people would do that. I’m a runner because of her. She’s awesome.
Any body role models? I think it is dangerous to have body role models because we’re all so very differently built. I think any person who is of a healthy weight and puts good stuff into their body is a role model.
What’s on your playlist? Many, many embarrassing songs. I share my iTunes with my kids. They listen to many songs that seem to have uploaded onto my iPod too. Some days, I’ll be lucky and get several songs in a row by artists I like White Stripes or U2… Then it all gets ruined with ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ (the Smurf Version). Lately, I’ve switched to radio.
Essential kit? Without a doubt, my ‘Groove Pants’ from LuluLemon, and my LuluLemon running top. I’m not much of a brand person, but I love the stuff from there: It’s designed for real women and it never rides up when you run. And it looks nice.
Describe your diet… I follow The Nordic Diet as much as I can – although I can’t eat gluten so some things I have to substitute. I’m Danish so it is natural for us to eat this way. It is not really a diet but just a way of eating. Lots of grain and oats, plenty of berries, lean meat (ideally game but we eat lots of lean protein), pickled stuff and beets and roots and loads of oily fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel. I avoid processed food when I can. It’s not always possible but I try not to eat things that my grandmother would not recognise as a food.
Breakfast – porridge with chia seeds on top. Maybe some cinnamon as it is good to regulate the blood sugar. I have gluten free crisp breads from Wasa with a slice of cheese if I’m treating myself. I also love berries and eat loads of them when I can.
Lunch – I try to stick to a salad with good proteins. I eat a lot of oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. Today, I had Kale salad with red grapes, hazelnuts and Vasterbotten cheese. It was awesome.
Dinner – I spent my youth avoiding vegetables, but now I love them so I bulk up on these at night. Dinner is often whatever the kids fancy (I think it is more important to join them in eating a meal than to fuss about what is ultra healthy for me). We cook at home; we make things from scratch when we can. My only guilty take away is sushi and now that I have found a gluten free ‘soya’, I can indulge again. Being gluten free means I no longer get tempted by take away pizza.
Favourite healthy recipe? Yes – I utterly adore sweet potato and rye grain salad, although because I can no longer eat gluten, I no longer eat it. I miss it. It’s roasted sweet potato, cooked rye grain, feta, tarragon and spring onion.
Do you take supplements? None, except for Chia seeds. And I have a Berroca once in a while. And I eat a lot of the gluten free power breakfast bars we serve at my café. We make them here because I got fed up with the added sugars in most of the ones you can buy in the super market.
What’s your health mantra? ‘Run’.
Motivation when you’re knackered? My husband knows to send me out for a run if I get grumpy. If I’m knackered, I go to bed and sleep. It’s the only thing that helps.
What’s your guilty pleasures? I would cancel a long run to watch The Newsroom on TV. And I will finish a whole bar of 200g Marabou chocolate if left alone with it.
Any energy tips? Sleep – it helps. Drink more water – it helps. Take time out to breathe and re-focus – it helps too.
Best bit of health advice you ever got? ‘Rest is part of your training” – I had the pleasure of training a bit with Tim Weeks, the ex Olympian. He told me to make sure I go to bed when I’m tired and to make sleep part of my marathon training. He’s a very clever man.
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