Your favourite treats

Your favourite treats ‘healthified’ with @pullupsandpeanutbutter

There’s nothing better than eating a decadent chocolate brownie knowing that it’s not packed with sugar and butter or going to put you in a 600 calorie surplus. Jo Hill has mastered ‘healthifying’ tonnes of our favourite cheat day treats, into treats we can have every day!

Age: 31

Lives: Umhlanga

Profession: Full-time remedial teacher and recently qualified as a PT focusing in Nutrition.

Website: www.pullupsandpeanutbutter.co.za

IG: @pullupsandpeanutbutter

FB: Pull ups and peanut butter

What initially got you into health and fitness?

I have always been a very active person as I grew up in a very sporty family but my love for fitness grew in varsity after gaining some weight and realising that I wasn’t looking after my body like I once did. You could say I experienced the freshman 15 (LOL). I decided to swop the late nights clubbing with training at the gym and the rest is history.

Have you always been interested in cooking?

Yes, cooking has always been a form of therapy for me. I spent hours baking as a child and it’s my favourite way to pass the time.

What made you decide to mix your love for baking with your love for health and fitness?

After gaining weight in varsity, I will be honest, I went to the other extreme and developed somewhat disordered relationships with food and my body. I found that I would eat extremely healthy during the week, only to completely binge over the weekend, undoing any progress I had made. I soon realised something had to change and decided that the best way for me to reach my goals was to include ‘healthified’ versions of my favourite treats into my diet every day, and that’s exactly what I did. I believe that the only way of eating that will work and help others to achieve their goals is going to be the one you can stick to long-term. So, having one of the largest sweet tooths (or is it teeth?) means that I need to include daily healthy treats in my diet to reach my goals. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

You’ve got quite a decent following on social media. What do you think has contributed to your success online?

I love a ramble (LOL) and I have been very open about my struggles, and what I have gone through and am currently going through. I am passionate about connecting with women around the country and I hope that comes across through my platforms.

What challenges has Covid-19 presented you?

Wow, where to start? Well, I am fortunate enough to still have a job, which I am very grateful for. However, Covid-19 has definitely affected each and every one of us in one way or another. I launched my book just before lockdown and was meant to have a proper launch with a party, baking demos and taste testing from April, which obviously couldn’t happen. I am trying my best to be innovative in telling people about my book, though. My sister and I are also the only family members still in Durbs, so we haven’t been able to get to our family, which has been tough. Otherwise, I count myself to be one of the lucky ones as I still have a roof over my head, food in the fridge and safe family and friends.

Tell us more about the book you just launched. We’re sure that it’s been a long-time dream come true?

Ah, my book is my baby. To be honest, launching my own book was a bucket list dream of mine and I absolutely love the outcome. I worked for 18 months perfecting the recipes, giving treats out to taste testers for feedback, and used an amazing team to help make this passion project of mine a reality. The book contains 40 recipes ranging from balanced breakfasts to lean lunches and dinners, low calorie treats, no baked treats and baked treats.

Do you find it difficult to stay away from the tasty snacks you bake?

To be honest, no, but when I first started baking I definitely did. Since then I have realised that there are no good and bad foods but portion control is key. All of my treats can be frozen, which definitely helps with portion control. I also create treats based on my specific goals at the time and this will determine what ingredients I use. I have managed to create super low-cal treats, so if I were to eat a tray of my 30-calorie brownies, it wouldn’t be a train smash (LOL). But, in saying that, since I include treats into my diet every day, I honestly don’t seem to battle with cravings anymore. 

Where do you get your baking inspiration from?

I love looking at my gran’s old recipes and seeing how I can ‘healthify’ them. I also have amazing followers who send me requests or challenge me to create healthy versions of things, which is one of my favourite challenges.

What kitchen essentials do you recommend every aspiring fit-chef should have?

Apart from the obvious like an oven, I’m going to say a blender (I use mine every day and in pretty much every recipe) and an air fryer. Both are items I use daily and couldn’t live without. 


What is your go-to training style?

Pre-covid I was very into weight training, more specifically powerlifting-style training. I am a firm believer that strong is the new skinny! I also have a huge love for running and this year I have been trying to maintain strength in the gym while training for half marathons. This combo has really worked well for me. With Covid, however, I am focusing more on lighter weights and higher reps, as well as bodyweight training – I didn’t name my platform ‘Pull ups and peanut butter’ for nothing ;). You can find me practising my pull ups on pretty much anything.

How many times a week do you train?

I train 5 to 6 times a week. On rest days, I love walking and listening to a podcast. I am one of those people who can never sit still. I do make sure that I listen to my body, though.

How have you kept yourself motivated during this time?

Level 5 lockdown was tough for everyone. During that time I tried to keep myself motivated by organising Zoom training sessions with my friends, trying my best to stick to a routine, and my husband and I shared a 21-day lockdown challenge series of workouts on Instagram. That definitely held me accountable. I also set weekly goals for myself and managed to run 3 half marathons in my car park during level 5. I now just keep an eye on my step count and try to stick to the training routine that I created pre-Covid.


Do you follow a diet or a specific way of eating?

 I follow a high protein diet and I like to cycle my carbs around my workouts. I love the flexible dieting approach and try to work within a calorie range on a tracking app. I used to track my macros to a tee, but I have learnt to be a lot more relaxed about it. I focus on hitting my protein target and then I meet the rest of my calories with carbs and fats. I try my best to eat whole foods as much as possible, but I don’t believe that there are any good or bad foods. There are just foods that are better for you. I have a HUGE appetite, so I like to eat high volumes of lower calorie foods, which you’ll find me sharing on my Instagram stories all the time. Food is life!

What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

I prep all my meals on a Sunday to save time in the week. I share Sunday’s meal prep on Instagram as well. I’m changing my diet up all the time but this week I am currently eating:

Breakfast: Overnight protein oats topped with peanut butter and blueberries. 

Snack: An apple with some PB2 and cottage cheese (I make a spread)

Lunch: Chicken, rice and pumpkin (my favourite veg) and a protein treat (this week it’s birthday cake bliss balls)

Snack: A protein shake and a bag of Trigz or some airppopped popcorn. (This is my pre-workout) 

Dinner: I love having a BAS (big-ass salad) filled with chicken or tuna, lettuce, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, peppadews, gherkins, roasted veg and my homemade salad dressing. This salad is literally the size of my head and is pretty low cal, which means that I can have an awesome dessert! 

Dessert: This changes all the time but at the moment I love my protein waffle cereal. I’ll snack on a protein bar if I am still hungry

What would you say is your favourite ‘healthified’ recipe you’ve come up with?

Gosh, I wouldn’t know where to start. At the moment I love my dark chocolate and cranberry proscotti (protein biscotti) recipe from my book. This chilly weather calls for a cup of sugar-free hot chocolate and a procotti to dunk into it… BLISS!

What are your pantry essentials?

I try to keep things pretty simple in my recipes and I have included an extensive shopping list at the back of my recipe book, but I would say: Oats (You can blend the oats to make your own oat flour), coconut flour, cocoa, sugar free hot chocolate, sweetener of choice (stevia powder is my fave), nut butter, chickpeas, black beans, lentils (legumes make the best brownies), protein powder, collagen powder, almond milk or milk of choice, baking powder and bicarb, Himalayan salt, dates, dried fruit, cashew nuts and almonds, grab-and-go snacks like Trigz and protein bars, and before I go on forever and ever, I am going to say sprinkles… Everything tastes better with sprinkles!


What do you miss most about life pre-Covid?

I miss being able to see my family. I FaceTime them all the time but it isn’t the same thing. As I work with kids, I miss being able to hug them. I find myself fighting back tears every now and again. One of my best friends is 8 months preggie so I also miss being able to see her as she is too high risk to be able to be around us now that we are back at work.

Do you have any plans or goals for the rest of the year?

YES! I love having goals as achieving them is the greatest feeling in the world! My current goals would be: Trying to connect with more women around South Africa through Pull up and peanut butter pocket presents (this is almost like an adult pen pal and we swop health and fitness-related items with others) and I would love to be able to do cooking demos or lessons with them, even if it’s on Zoom. I initially was an extremely shy person, so I try my best to get myself out of my comfort zone by challenging myself with public speaking. I am also thinking of creating a few ebooks.

Yay or nay- What does Jo say?

Training every day? Yay. If your body allows for it…BUT listening to your body is key! Burnout is a real thing so we need to be careful.

Competing? Nay. This was a bucket list goal of mine but I don’t think that I am mentally strong enough to cope with not being able to look stage ready year round. I do admire all of those who compete and the discipline it takes to build their physique. Right now I am happy focusing on my fitness and not my aesthetic goals, but perhaps one day though.

Supplements? Yay. Supplements have been created to supplement our diets and I would never be able to reach my protein goal without supplementing with protein powder. It’s convenient and delicious as well. I take collagen and glutamine daily, and I swear by ZMA before bed.

HIIT? Yay. I LOVE it, especially when I’m short on time. I’ve also found that HIIT training has helped my long distance running.

Diets? Nay. The best way to diet is not to diet. Find a way of eating that you LOVE and can stick to and the results will follow.

Author: Logan Leigh Rix

Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She’s also a personal trainer, former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.

Logan blends her passion and profession by working as a digital and social media marketer and content creator in the fitness, health and wellness industry. She's also a personal trainer, former Face of Fitness finalist and Fitness Magazine featured athlete.

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