My Shopping List Staples

Shopping can be confusing at the best of times, especially when you’re trying to make healthy choices. I receive a lot of questions regarding nutrition, and I’ve already put together a rough food diary, which you can view here. I thought it would also be useful to create a list of my cupboard/fridge staples, to perhaps make your trip around the supermarket a little less faff. Here we go:

Fruit:

  • Bananas: I am quite literally bananas about bananas. I use them for everything – smoothies, baking, topping rice cakes and peanut butter. You name it, a banana can do it. Plus, they’re rich in potassium, and a source of quality carbohydrate, ideal either pre or post workout
  • Frozen Berries: buying your berries frozen means that you get a lot more bang for your buck… In more ways than one. When berries are frozen, their nutrients are sealed in, thus they maintain a higher nutritional value than their fresh counterparts, which have been bumped about during the journey from field to fridge. They’re also a lot less expensive, and last for ages in the freezer. Great for adding to smoothies, or topping your porridge
  • Avocado: you may be inclined to call it a vegetable because of its savoury taste. Butttt, avo is a fruit packed full of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, potassium and fibre. I start almost every day with the amusingly basic breakfast of eggs and avo, and I’m not bored of it yet

Veggies:

  • Sweet Potato: dense in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron, sweet potato is a quality source of carbohydrate, with a valuable nutritional profile. Added bonus: it makes everything taste better
  • Cucumber: chop into sticks and munch alongside a fresh pot of hummus – you have the perfect snack! Did you know that cucumbers contain silica, the mineral responsible for promoting good nail-health? Well, you do now
  • Spinach Leaves: phytonutrient central, with anti-inflammatory properties. Spinach helps to maintain healthy eyesight, and its an absolute overall winner

Carbohydrates:

  • Oats: rich in beta-glucan – a dietary fibre known to reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the body. I eat oats cold, soaked in water or Rude Health Brown Rice Milk
  • Rice Cakes: the ultimate versatile snack. Top with peanut butter and banana, cream cheese and veggies, tuna and mashed avocado… The possibilities are endless
  • Uncle Ben’s Wholegrain Rice: these microwaveable pouches are easy to cook, and oh so tasty. Great for when you’re in a hurry, and available in a variety of yummy flavours

Protein:

  • Salmon Fillet: rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, selenium, niacin – the list goes on. The perfect protein-packed addition to any meal
  • Cod Fillet: a low calorie source of lean protein, dense in vitamins B6 and B12. Pair with sweet potato wedges, vinegar and homemade mushy peas to make your very own healthy fish and chips. Don’t mind if I do…
  • Eggs: the nutritional powerhouse, containing 13 essential vitamins and minerals, alongside a high nutrient and healthy fat content. I eat so many eggs that one day I may actually become one
  • Tinned Tuna in Spring Water: a readily available, affordable source of protein, and a great option for when you’re on-the-go. I opt for tuna in spring water, as opposed to oil, as this reduces calorie content

Snacks:

  • Fage 0% Fat Yoghurt: high in protein, low in fat. The ideal addition to a post workout smoothie, when fats should be kept to a minimum, to ensure rapid absorption of carbohydrates and protein into the body
  • Full Fat Greek Yoghurt: I buy both full and 0% fat yoghurt, to eat at different times of day. Mix 200g full fat Greek yoghurt with a handful of frozen berries, to create a tasty and filling snack
  • Meridian Peanut/Almond Butter: 100% nuts, enough said
  • Dark Chocolate: the darker, the more delicious… We’re talking 90% cocoa. If you can find raw cacao chocolate, that’s even better

This is by no means a fool proof, all-inclusive list, but I hope that it’s helpful nonetheless!

REVIEW: PINK SODA SPORT

Fun, fresh, and oh so chic. Pink Soda Sport is everything. Sportswear with extra sass, what more could you want? Set up by JD Sports, the brand is aimed at the modern woman, enabling a swift and effortless transition from everyday life to gym bunny.

The label aims to ‘push performance to new levels’, by creating an alternative mentality towards health, placing the focus on ‘clean living and positive body image’. In other words, Pink Soda believes that there is more to fitness than just the gym. Rather, it is a way of life, and their pieces embody this vision.

I was kindly gifted five pieces from their collection, and let’s just say, it was love at first sight.

The Hoody: Cozy and fitted, it wears like a dream. With this item, it’s all about the details: we’re talking mesh inserts and colour-block panelling. Even the little toggles which adjust the hood are super cute.

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The Leggings: These babies are exactly what every gym girl needs: a soft, thick material, with a wide waist band and high quality elastic. No one wants that behind-the-knee sagginess. An added perk (and absolute must in my books), a tie around the waist, which keeps the leggings up, and makes them totally squat-proof… No booty peeping in sight.

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The Sports Bra: Just enough squeeze, but not too much to inhibit breathing; a bonus at the best of times, especially whilst working out. I’ve worn/washed this piece a lot, and so far all of the printing has stayed perfectly intact.

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The Crop: Don’t judge me, but I totally wear this as a regular top. Personally, I don’t find it has a huge amount of support, so I wouldn’t choose this item if I was doing anything too bouncy. But who cares? We have the sports bra for that, ladies.

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The Sleeveless T: Dropped armhole, with some pretty niche detailing. This swanky T is great for getting to the gym, where I tend to take it off and train in a sports bra. Post-workout, I use it to cover up my sweaty self, paired with the Pink Soda hoody, of course.

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So if you like looking good whilst working out, you don’t need to spend a bomb on your sportswear. Pink Soda Sport is both fabulous and affordable. It may just be the brand for you.

Note: this post is not endorsed. These opinions are my own entirely, and I am sharing them solely to advise others.

Review: 1Rebel

This week I visited 1Rebel for the first time, to try their 45 minute ‘Reshape Full Body’ class. Widely hailed ‘The King of Gyms’, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Did it live up to expectations? In one simple word… YES.

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It’s everything you could want a gym to be and more. Think high-end, chic and boutique. I mean, it’s worth trying a class just to experience their lavish changing rooms. We’re talking, Smeg fridge full of chilled aromatherapy towels, top of the range hairdryers and GHD straighteners. Oh, and there’s also no need to bring shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make up remover, cotton wool pads, face cleanser, moisturiser, hair spray or even hair pins, because all of these are provided for you (yes, really). So before you’ve even arrived, 1Rebel have done you a huge favour in making your gym bag a whole lot lighter.

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I booked in for Reshape at 4.15pm on a Friday, which is seemingly a great time to visit, because there were only four people in the class. Alice was the trainer, and she was great: high energy and very accommodating for me as the only newbie.

The class itself features a mixture of high-intensity treadmill work, floor-based calisthenics (bodyweight training), and free weight exercises atop their patented 1Rebel workout platform. Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s hard. However, rest assured that after 45 physically enduring and mentally gruelling minutes, the pain will have been so worth it.

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The struggle is made somewhat easier by the party-vibe going on in the studio. The dim, disco-style lighting is great for concealing some of that excessive sweatiness (which, trust me, you will experience), and the playlists created by internationally renowned DJs are obviously top notch. When you think your body can’t take any more, there’s nothing more motivating than a bit of Eminem to help you blast through those last few reps.

So if you’re looking for a centrally located, no contract (pay-as-you-go), class-based gym, this could just be the place for you. When you decide to visit, be sure not to miss out on a post-workout protein shake from on site juice bar, ‘Roots and Bulbs’, and maybe even grab yourself some snazzy new sports gear from their luxe retail zones.

A Beginner’s Guide to Lifting Weights

After my blog post ‘Why You Need to Start Weight Training’, I’ve had a few questions about where to begin. So I’m writing this to give some very basic tips on how to get involved in strength-based training in the correct way.

Break it down into muscle groups: Rather than completing a full-body workout every time you’re at the gym, aim to break your sessions down into muscle groupings. These can be general, such as ‘upper body’ and ‘lower body’, or more specific such as ‘back and biceps’, and ‘shoulders and abs’. This way, you work the selected muscles to their full capacity. It also means that whilst one muscle group is recovering, you are still able to train another. Aim to work each muscle group once or twice per week, and always remember to arrive at the gym with a plan of the session ahead.

Selecting the appropriate weight: It’s a common mistake to lift heavy weights too soon, and this often leads to injury. Start at a lower weight, at which you are able to fatigue the muscle in 10-14 repetitions (reps). Begin by completing 4 or 5 sets of 10-15 reps at this weight. Once you have built up base strength and feel strong enough to progress, increase the weight slightly. As you advance further to use heavy weights, reduce the number of reps performed, to around 5-8 (at a heavy weight this should be enough to fatigue the working muscles).

Control every movement: This leads on from my previous point. Every motion performed should be carefully controlled; if you need to use momentum to complete the movement, the weight is probably too heavy. Rather than swinging the weights, train yourself to fully engage the working muscles, as this will make the exercise much more effective. Think of it as a mind-muscle connection. Don’t just flow through the movement thoughtlessly, ensure you activate the necessary muscle groups.

Form: Completing an exercise incorrectly is likely to cause muscular/joint problems, not to mention it will make the movement much less beneficial. I recommend visiting a reputable website (such as www.bodybuilding.com) where they break down each exercise, with a video and description detailing perfect form. It’s much easier to learn the correct form before you begin training, rather than having to correct bad habits later.

Rest: Maintaining optimum rest time between sets is crucial. Not resting for long enough means that muscles will quickly become fatigued, but rest for too long, and the muscles start to cool down. I also find that extensive rest periods lead me to lose focus. Ideal rest time is 30-90 seconds between sets, and 1-2 minutes when changing exercises. The key is to really listen to your body during your rest period. If possible, try and remain within these guidelines, starting a new set when you feel that your muscles are ready.

Use a personal trainer: I highly recommend using a trainer in the gym. They can put you on a programme and help you achieve your personal goals in the most efficient way possible. If, however, you don’t want to spend money on this, you can always find tailored programmes online (you know by now that it’s my favourite – www.bodybuilding.com). Remember that most gyms offer a free first personal training session, where you can ask your trainer to show you how to use the weights equipment properly.

Be consistent: Giving up will get you nowhere. If you want to progress, I suggest a minimum of three weights sessions per week. Motivation is the key to consistency, so find ways to keep yourself inspired, whether this may be through finding a great workout playlist or recruiting a gym buddy. You can also set yourself small, attainable weekly targets such as ‘complete 15 press ups’. Commitment means results.

I hope you’ve found this useful; now, let’s put it into practice!