Joe Wicks's meals to keep you motivated

Meals to keep you motivated: From saag paneer with cauliflower ‘rice’ to chipotle turkey tacos and Vietnamese sticky salmon… try JOE WICKS’ tasty ways to keep you lean in lockdown

  • Joe Wicks provides tips on how to maintain a new eating and exercising regime 
  • Stresses the importance of goal setting, one key way to increase your motivation
  • Shares some healthy recipes to help people keep on track with their goals

So, you’ve committed to new ways of eating and exercising — but come the middle of the week you’re wavering. Then there’s the small matter of lockdown . . .

It’s a test for even the most driven among us.

Don’t throw in the towel! Remember, these new routines are going to make you healthier, happier and energised. They just take a little time to get used to and for you to feel the benefits.

What you need right now are a few smart motivational strategies to keep your good intentions on track — try some of the ones which follow and you’ll be ready to face any difficult day.

Goal-setting is such a powerful tool. Even smashing a small target can result in a big sense of achievement and increases your motivation.

The key here is to aim for short-term gains you can really achieve and which are not based on body image or weight-loss alone.

Don’t throw in the towel! Remember, these new routines are going to make you healthier, happier and energised

So it could be: ‘Today I’m going to skip that glass of wine’ or ‘I’m going to stop looking at my phone two hours before going to bed.’

As well as giving you a mental boost, these little wins make a massive difference to your mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s Mind(set) over Matter

To get yourself in shape, you need to understand what is driving you but also what is holding you back — so you can put some strategies in place to help you.

Struggling to get up early to exercise because you’re not a morning person? Work out at lunchtime instead. Don’t think you have time to cook healthy meals? Switch ‘I can’t do it’, to ‘I can, and I will’.

Turn A Wobble Into A Win

We’ve all been there. Gone to bed with good intentions of getting up early for a run, only to stay buried under the duvet when the alarm goes off.

Every time you feel a wobble coming on remember why you wanted to make changes in the first place. Then get up and try a workout or a walk.

All those lovely endorphins released after exercise will soon lift your mood and give you a fantastic chance to turn your day around.

Also remember that everyone has bad days. But what’s important is to recognise each one for what it is: just a bad day and not the end of the world.

Don’t Just Go It Alone

Research has shown that we’re more likely to exercise if we work out with others.

So, grab the kids and do one of my daily workouts. Or, if you live by yourself, start a fitness WhatsApp group with friends — set a time to begin a workout and check in with them at the beginning and at the end.

Also, tell people about your commitment to change — share your goals on social media or blog about it and update everyone on your progress. This will make you less likely to veer off track.

How to Beat that Biscuit-Binge Guilt

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have the odd day when you lose all drive, skip the exercise and eat everything in sight.

That happens to me when I feel stressed or emotional — and when I fall hard, I fall hard!

But one thing I never do is feel guilty about it.

Just acknowledge it as a day when your emotions changed, and you chose to eat more food than normal.

Get back in the kitchen to prep a healthy breakfast and lunch for the next day. Then, in the morning wake up and exercise, lift your energy, change your mood and move forward.

Vietnamese sticky salmon 


  • ½ small cucumber
  • Salt 
  • 1 x 200g skinless boneless salmon fillet 
  • 1 small clove garlic 
  • ½ red chilli 
  • 1 pak choi 
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar 
  • ½ tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds 
  • 250g pre-cooked coconut rice 
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar 

Preheat the grill to maximum. Using a rolling pin, bash the cucumber until it starts to split, then cut into rough diagonal pieces. Put it into a sieve over a bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Leave for a few minutes to allow the water to drain off. 

Cut the salmon fillet in half then place the two pieces on a baking tray, and slide it under a hot grill for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic and red chilli — remove the seeds if too much heat isn’t to your taste. 

Cut the pak choi in half lengthways. Now mix together the fish sauce, soft brown sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Come back to the salmon. 

Lay the pak choi, cut side down, on the baking tray, then drizzle the sauce over the salmon. Scatter over the sesame seeds and slide back under the grill for 3 minutes. While the salmon and pak choi are grilling, ping the coconut rice in the microwave according to packet instructions. 

Drain away any water from the bowl underneath the cucumber, then tip the cucumber into the bowl. Stir in the finely chopped garlic, chilli and rice wine vinegar. By now the salmon should be cooked — check this by slicing into the thickest part of one of the pieces to make sure the flesh has turned a matt pink. 

Pile the coconut rice into a bowl, lay the sticky salmon and pak choi on top. Drizzle over the cooking juices and serve with the smacked cucumber. 

Saag paneer with cauliflower ‘rice’ 


  • ½ small head cauliflower
  • 60g paneer (¹/³ of average pack)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Roughly chop the cauliflower then blitz in a food processor until it resembles rice. Keep to one side. Cut the paneer into large cubes. Ping 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a microwaveable bowl to melt.

Stir in the ground turmeric, drop in the paneer cubes, toss to coat. Heat a saucepan over a medium to high heat. Spoon in 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Once melted, add the garlic-ginger paste and chilli flakes. 

Cook for 1 minute then add the spinach to the pan. When wilted, keep the pan on a very low heat while you fry the paneer. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Lay the paneer in the pan, fry for 3-4 minutes, turning as each side becomes golden and crisp. 

Tip into the saucepan along with the spinach. Put the frying pan back on the heat (don’t bother washing it — it will add flavour). Melt the remaining coconut oil. Tip in the cauliflower rice, sprinkle in the garam masala and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. 

Fry for 2 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Dish up the cauliflower rice. Squeeze the lemon juice into the paneer and spinach, season to taste then pile on top of the ‘rice’. 

Chimichurri steak with mixed grains


  • Small handful parsley
  • Small handful coriander
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 pickled jalapenos plus 1 tbsp pickling juice, plus a few extra to serve, optional
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 x 225g sirloin steak, trimmed of visible fat
  • 200g pre-cooked mixed grains
  • ½ medium courgette
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, drained
  • Large handful of rocket
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Make the chimichurri. Put the parsley and coriander (stalks and all) into a small food processor with the garlic, pickled jalapenos, 1 tablespoon of pickling juice and most of the olive oil. Blitz to a smooth green sauce. Add a little water if you need it. 


Replace the steak with 30g toasted, chopped hazelnuts and 30g feta, crumbled and stirred into the mixed grains along with the chimichurri. 

Season to taste with salt and black pepper — you want it to be nice and tangy. Heat a griddle pan over the highest heat. Drizzle the steak with the remaining oil, rubbing it into the flesh, and season all over with salt and pepper. 

When the pan is searingly hot, carefully lay the steak in it. Cook according to preference — I like my steak medium rare, so 2½ minutes on each side, turning regularly — then leave to rest, covered, until you’re ready to eat.

While the steak is cooking, ping the mixed grains in the microwave, according to packet instructions.

Peel the courgette into long ribbons. Slice the red pepper. Mix the warmed grains, courgette and pepper together in a serving bowl, along with the rocket. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste.

Thinly slice the steak on a diagonal, then pile on top of the mixed grains. Drizzle over the chimichurri. If you like it spicy, scatter over a couple more pickled jalapenos.

Chipotle turkey tacos 


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 200g turkey mince
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • ¹/8 small red cabbage
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ avocado
  • 3 small corn tortillas
  • Small handful of coriander

Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat.


Replace the turkey mince with ½ small head of cauliflower. Cut it into smallish florets and cook in the same way.

Tip the turkey mince into the pan. Break the mince into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Season, and fry for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the tomato puree, chipotle paste and 50ml water in a small bowl. Pour into the pan with the turkey, mix well then leave the turkey to bubble away in its sauce for 5 minutes.

While the turkey is cooking, finely slice the red cabbage, put it into a bowl, pour over half the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix together. Scoop the avocado into another bowl, squeeze in the remaining lime juice, season, then use your fork to roughly mash. Heat the tortillas.

Come back to the turkey, check it is cooked by making sure the meat is white all the way through, with no raw pink bits remaining

Once you’re happy with the meat, assemble your tacos. Spoon the turkey mince between each tortilla along with the avocado and red cabbage. Tear over the coriander leaves, and serve.

Blackened cod with pico de galla salsa and smashed avo


  • ½ small red onion
  • Handful coriander (stalks and all)
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • ½ jalapeno
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 x 200g skinless cod fillet
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 ripe avocado


Make the salsa and smashed avocado beforehand, but cook the cod just before serving.

Make the salsa. Finely chop the red onion, most of the coriander, the tomato and the jalapeno — remove the seeds if you don’t like it hot. place in a bowl, squeeze in the juice of half the lime. 

Give everything a good mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Melt the coconut oil in a nonstick frying pan over a medium to high heat. Coat the cod in the fajita seasoning, then place in the hot pan. 

Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, carefully flipping halfway. Meanwhile, make the smashed avocado. Scoop the avocado into a bowl, squeeze in the juice of the remaining lime half, season, then use your fork to roughly mash. 

Come back to the cod, check that it is cooked through by cutting into one of the thicker parts to make sure the flesh has turned from raw and pale to to cooked and bright white. Put the blackened cod on a plate, dish up the salsa and avocado then scatter over the remaining coriander leaves.

Parma ham and sundried tomato


  • ½ large aubergine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 6 slices Parma ham
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomatoes
  • 1 x 227g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes
  • ½ small ball of mozzarella (about 63g)
  • 1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • Handful basil leaves

Preheat the grill to maximum. Slice the aubergine into 2cm-thick rounds. Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Drizzle most of the olive oil over the aubergine rounds, rubbing the oil into the flesh. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the aubergine in the frying pan. Fry for 3 minutes on each side, until softened and golden brown. 


Change the Parma ham for 30g toasted pine nuts, layered into the dish in the same way you would the ham.

Transfer the aubergine to a plate and put the pan back on the heat. Peel the Parma ham slices straight out of their packet into the hot frying pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the ham shrivels and crisps. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Roughly chop the sundried tomatoes then put them in a bowl. 

Tip in the chopped tomatoes, crush in the garlic clove, add a pinch of chilli flakes and some salt and pepper. Stir together. Dollop a third of the sundried tomato sauce into the bottom of a small ovenproof dish. 

Layer in half the fried aubergine along with half the crispy parma ham, spoon over a third more sauce, then tear over half the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with the mozzarella. 

Scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle with the remaining oil. Slide under the grill and cook for 8 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes and scatter over the basil leaves before tucking in.  

The benefits of meditation (and how to do it) 

Several people have told me over the years that meditation would help me deal with the thoughts and worries that race through my mind at a million miles an hour. I downloaded a few guided meditation apps but found it so difficult to sit and focus that I always gave up. 

It took a chat with comedian Russell Brand on his podcast to change that. I committed myself to doing 20 minutes of guided meditation every day for two weeks — and no lie, it changed my life. 


Stay on track by jotting down what you achieved and how you felt each day and look back at it when you’re feeling demotivated. 

Seeing how your wins make you feel will encourage you to exercise and eat healthily.  

For the first time in years, I stopped looking at my phone, I slowed down, I breathed and let myself go to a place of calm and peace that I’d never been to before. It’s one of those skills which you get better at over time — just like learning to cook or taking exercise. 

The more you do it, the more experience you get and the more you get out of it. Now I do it about three or four days a week. 

I like to follow apps or YouTube tutorials, but if you’re a complete beginner, a really simple thing is to spend time just focusing on your breathing. 

It can instantly calm and release any tension you’re holding in your body. To give it a go, make yourself as comfortable as you can, whether you’re sitting on a chair, on the floor or lying on your back.

Relax your shoulders and let your hands hang loose at your sides, in your lap or on your knees. 

Close your eyes and start to deepen your breath, without forcing it. If you can, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, gently and regularly. Gradually start to lengthen your breath, counting to five on the inhale and five on the exhale. 

Try this for three to five minutes and see if you can focus your mind on the simple act of breathing. How do you feel afterwards? Did you manage to keep your mind free of distractions? It will take practice at first, but the more regularly you try it, the easier it will be and the more transformative it can feel.


Extracted from 30 Day Kick Start Plan by Joe Wicks (Bluebird £18.99). © 2020 Joe Wicks. To order a copy for £14.81 go to www.mailshop. or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Promotional price valid until 05/02/2021

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