Month: July 2017

Where to buy Health Food on the cheap (in London)

Where to buy Health Food on the cheap (in London)

“Being healthy is just so expensive”

I hear that phrase all the time.

There’s all sorts of advice on blogs, social media and in magazines about how to live healthily on a budget. But a lot of them of them pretty much say the same thing.

Buy in bulk. Meal prep. Have a food planner. Shop at markets half an hour before closing time.

I’m mean that’s all very well – and yes, it all makes sense. But a) you have to be pretty damn organised and in-the-know about your local markets and b) there’s just no denying the fact that sometimes healthy food is expensive, no matter how organised you are.

It’s frustrating, because there are loads of easy, healthy recipes that are absolutely delicious but completely useless if you can’t afford half the ingredients.

Where to buy health foods on the cheap

I’m not going to pretend I’m completely guilt free of this. A lot of the recipes on this blog call for some sort of protein powder, superfood or random spice that aren’t stock cupboard regulars and aren’t exactly cheap as chips.

Equally though, I’m pretty stingy with my money. Especially when I’m trying to save. No shame- I completely admit it.

Luckily, supermarkets have started to jump on the whole health food bandwagon – meaning you don’t have to blow your weekly budget in places like Whole Foods or super pricey independent health food stores.

I like to think that I have become pretty savvy at sourcing healthy ingredients whilst managing not to completely break the bank.

Here’s the lowdown of where I get my health food on the cheap in London.

 

Where to buy health foods on the cheap

TOP SHOP: Lidl

What: Smoked Salmon, Protein Powder, Superfood Seeds, Nuts, Fruit and Veg. Oh, and your odd piece of Fitness Equipment

Lidl really puts me off because of how it’s organised, and because you always seem to wait forever at the checkouts. HOWEVER, it’s pretty unbeatable price wise. The fruit and veg are normally good value (and I’ve heard the same of Aldi too, although there isn’t one close to me). You can get big packets of nuts for less than £2.20 for 200g – compared to other supermarkets where you’d normally spend almost double that amount. You can also get things like Linseeds, milled Chia seeds and healthy breakfast grains and toppings for between £1-£1.50 for 200-250g.

Top tip from one of my clients, apparently, the Smoked Salmon from Lidl is very cheap but of a much better quality than at other supermarkets. Direct quote “it’s not all veiny and gross”.

Oh, and they also do some brilliant fitness equipment too, such as yoga mats and resistance bands. Suspension ropes (TRX) for £11 anyone?

 

Asda

What: Yoghurt, Protein Cookies and Bars.

Before Aldi and Lidl came along, I knew of Asda as the ‘cheaper option’ supermarket. It’s still a pretty good option if you’re being tight with the purse strings, especially for bulk buying things such as whole-wheat pasta, lentils and grains. You can also usually get protein bars or cookies for a decent price (i.e. less than £1.50 per unit). However in particular, I go to Asda for yoghurt. They have a huge range of healthy, high protein yoghurts including my favourite brand, Fage, for £2 per 500g tub. Compared to the £2.95 that my nearest Sainsbury’s offers…well that’s a pretty big difference. They also include Skyr yoghurt (my second fave) in their 2 for £2 deal. Absolute winner.

Where to buy health foods on the cheap

Boots

What: On-the-go lunches, health bars, energy balls, snacks, protein shakes and healthy drinks

Boots is brilliant purely because of its meal deal. A main, a drink and a snack for £3.89 (give or take depending on the branch). The thing is, pretty much everything is included in the meal deal – unlike some other places which limit you to their basic selection. Which means you can get things such as Cold Press Juice, Protein Shakes, Trek Bars, Deliciously Ella Protein Balls, Graze Boxes and loads more as part of a lunch deal that costs less than £4. Given that other places often charge between £2-£4 for the one thing alone (I saw Cloud Press Juice for £3.29 for 250ml elsewhere) this works out as great value.

 

Sainsbury’s

What: Peanut butter & Coconut Oil

Sainsbury’s always seems to have deals on their nut butters – and the bigger stores have a good selection of brands too. I usually buy my favourite Pip & Nut peanut butter for £1.70 for a 225g jar (normally around £2.20). Every now and then they’ll also have an offer on the 1kg tubs. I also discovered Sainbury’s £1 ginger shots a little while ago when I went through a huge ginger phase. These are normally minimum £2 so that was awesome.

Coconut Oil (for cooking) is another extraordinarily expensive habit of the health food community, HOWEVER in my nearest big Sainsbury’s (don’t even bother with the little local ones) I saw 600ml of Pure Cooking Coconut Oil in the foreign foods section for £2.49. I’ve seen half as much coconut oil go for £12 in Planet Organic once…so £2.49 is a steal!

 

Where to buy health food on the cheap

Holland and Barratt

What: Superfood Powders & Alternative Baking Ingredients

Like Boots, Holland and Barratt run some amazing sales, even if the individual products themselves can be pricey. They run their Penny sale regularly, which is where you buy one item and get one of any other item for 1 pence. If you shop wisely, this can really work out in your favour, especially as they include quite a large majority of stock in the sale. You can pretty much get two high price items for the price of one. Last time I got around 500g of acai powder (which is stupidly expensive) for £8. For non-sale days, their alternative baking ingredients (such as high protein or gluten free flour) is usually quite a decent price.

 

Where to buy health food on the cheap

Waitrose

What: Not very much…

I know, I know. You don’t exactly include the word ‘Waitrose’ and the word ‘budget’ in the same sentence. BUT, if you are conveniently close to a decent size store (rather than the smaller, local ones which charge you a small mortgage for a sandwich) they have some hidden gems amongst the £5 pot of apple slices. They always seem to have a good sale on to-go protein shakes, for example. Plus, (being Waitrose) they also have their own brand of things such as Matcha Shots, Ginger Shots and Coconut water, which makes them ever so slightly cheaper than when you buy such things from a café.

That being said, at £2.50 per 500ml, my favourite Fage yoghurt is actually cheaper in Waitrose than in Sainsbury’s. So that’s food for thought.

Where to buy health food on the cheap

Do you have any thrifty tips or tricks when it comes to sourcing your health food on the cheap? Please share in the comments!

Resistance Band Variations for Cable-Pulley Exercises

Resistance Band Variations for Cable-Pulley Exercises

As a Personal Trainer, you learn to get inventive. Sometimes because clients can get bored easily and you need to spice things up. Sometimes because someone has an injury that you need to adapt for. Usually though, a PT’s skill at improvisation and invention comes from just not having the equipment necessary to perform a certain exercise.

That’s where cheap, portable equipment such as resistance bands come in really handy. If you know how to use them, you can replace- perhaps not all- but definitely a huge portion of common weight training exercises with a simple resistance band.

When I PT in a gym, I regularly use a cable pulley. They’re so versatile. The sheer number of exercises and exercise variations you can perform on cables is vast. They’re great for pushing the limits of advanced lifters – and they’re also brilliant for smaller exercises that help with things like technique and muscle imbalances. I was pretty stuck the first time I PT’d in a gym with no cable pulley. There were certain exercises that I really wanted to teach my clients and I just couldn’t think how to do so. It’s different to when you train clients outside. For outdoor training, I’ll plan an entirely different type of session around the equipment that I know that I have.

Anyway, I’ve had to cope a few times now without the cables. And I’ve learned more than a few brilliant Resistance Band variations for some of my go-to cable exercises.

These are some of my favourites.

 

Resistance Band Variations for Cable-Pulley Exercises

 

Face Pulls

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light-Medium

How: Tie the band to a sturdy pole just above head height. Take the bottom of the band with both hands and pull towards the bridge of the nose. Keep the back straight and bend the arms, keeping the elbows high.

Muscles: Deltoids, biceps, rhomboids, trapezius

Rear Delt Cross Overs

Band Strength: Light

How: Loop the band around a sturdy pole at chest height. Make sure each end crosses over. Take the ends of the band in each hand. Standing straight, open the arms (keeping the elbows straight) and pull the band back as far as you can, squeezing the shoulder blades together.

Muscles: Rear deltoids, rhomboids, trapezius

 

Tricep Extensions

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light

How: Tie the band to a high surface, letting it dangle down. Both hands should hold the bottom of the band. Start with the elbows bend and pull the band downwards, straightening the arms.

Muscle: Triceps

Seated Rows

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light-Medium

How: Loop the band around a sturdy pole, around chest height when standing. Sit on the floor and take one end of the band in each hand. Start with straight arms, reaching forwards then pull the band back, bending the arms and tucking the elbows in.

Muscles: Trapezius, Rhomboids, Biceps, Lats

Glute Kick Backs

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light-Medium

How: Tie one end of the band to a sturdy surface at floor level. Loop the other end of the band around the ankle. Standing on one supporting leg, raise the other leg in a diagonal-backward direction.

Muscles: Glutes and Hamstrings

Hamstring Curls

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light-Medium

How: Tie one end of the band to a sturdy surface at floor level. Kneeling one leg on a bench, loop the other end of the resistance band around the foot. Keeping the thigh as still as possible, squeeze the hamstring, bending the leg up towards the bum.

Muscle: Hamstrings

Woodchops

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

Band Strength: Light-Medium

How: The band should be looped around a sturdy pole and you should stand side on. Keeping the arms as straight as possible, use both hands to pull the band across the body.

Muscle: Obliques

 

For more resistance band exercises, check out my Summer Workouts post. Have you ever had to get inventive in the gym, or is there an exercise that you really want to know how to do without the equipment? Let me know in the comments- I do love a challenge!

Resistance Band Variations for Cable Exercises

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How to be a PT when you’re not wearing gym-clothes

How to be a PT when you’re not wearing gym-clothes

I realise that this post may sound like I’m stating the obvious.

I’m writing it on a Tuesday evening. It’s a rare day when Im finished with work before 4pm. Unthinkable for a weekday, normally.

I’m on my way to meet my best friend for some casual after work drinks. Nothing out of the ordinary then, compared to the rest of the working millennials in London.

Except for me it really is.

I’m wearing a dress. Nothing fancy- just a casual dress that keeps me relatively cool in this unexpected scorching summer.

And that’s the strangest thing of all.

How to be a PT when you're not wearing gym clothes

It genuinely just feels really weird. I spend my life constantly in activewear, because I’m always either working or training. Or lounging around the house doing admin and running errands. But there’s no point changing clothes because I’ll either just have finished at the gym, or I’ll head there after I’m done.

For this reason my poor non-gym wardrobe has been somewhat neglected recently. I have piles and piles of old work or summer or going out clothes that, since I became full time freelance, just haven’t been worn. Not because they’re old or they don’t fit. Just because they’re kinda unnecessary

These days if my mum sees me in absolutely anything other than lycra leggings she’ll remark (with some surprise) how nice I look.

My point being that as much as it feels more of a privilege to dress up now (even if that means jeans!) it also makes me weirdly uncomfortable. As if I’ve lost my ‘PT’ identity somehow.

Which of course is completely ridiculous.

How to be a PT when you're not wearing gym clothes

It’s not as if anyone would not believe that I’m a PT just because I’m not in activewear. It’s not as if they’d even ask. I don’t make a habit of going around asking people what they do for a living. If someone told me they were a doctor I wouldn’t ask them why they’re not wearing scrubs or a white coat. It’s literally meaningless.

Truth is I love my identity when I’m in activewear. I worked insanely hard to become a PT and now I’m grateful that (as a result) my workwear is super comfortable and I can wear gym hoodies and run down the tube escalators, comfortable in one of my many pairs of trainers.

I never did suit office clothes.

Still, I think it’s time that I learned that I’m a PT regardless of whether I’m wearing lycra leggings, a fancy dress or just a scruffy old pair of jeans.

I love my job and I think it suits me. But I also love theatre, books and salt and vinegar crisps. And I’m not going to forget that again.

How to be a PT when you're not wearing gym clothes

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