Health & Fitness

My Gym Essentials

dumbbell-1966704_1920For any of you who read my blog, you will know I like to keep fit and regularly go to the gym. I have been a member of my for nearly 3 years now and go around 4-5 times a week and workout for about 45 minutes. I recently wrote a guest post over on Cascade of Colour, talking about my motivation tips for the gym, but it’s also important to make sure you have the right gym essentials to make your time working out more enjoyable and successful.

For many people, including myself, the start of the year means we set our self fitness goals for the coming months, so I wanted to write this post so I could share with you my gym essentials and how I maximize my workout.

Music – I have been to the gym and completed a workout without listening to music and also listening to music and personally I feel the time goes so much quicker when your earphones are in and your favourite music is playing. As well as making the time go quicker, I also find it can be really motivating, so I would definitely recommend you create a gym playlist with a mix of your favourite music.

Water – It sounds stupid but make sure to keep hydrated throughout your workout!

Clothing – It’s seem obvious but make sure you have the right clothing on, there are so many different brands that specialise in gym clothing, my personal favourites are MyProtein and Under Armour, the quality of their clothing is so good and the fit of their products are really good. I’m not a massive fan of wearing joggers in the gym, especially when I’m doing cardio or core exercises so I would definitely recommend wearing shorts, I wear the Under Armour Mirage shorts as I really like how lightweight they are and how good the fit is.

Footwear – Similar to clothing, this seems like an obvious choice but believe me, when I first started going to the gym I went on the treadmill in Converse, needless to say I wasn’t on there long, it wasn’t comfy at all! You can pick a decent pair of running shoes up in any sports shop and they don’t have to be expensive.

Supplements – There are so many different supplements to take but I like to have a protein shake straight after a workout. When it comes to buying protein powder, the places you can buy it from and the flavours you can get it in are endless. As I said, straight after the gym I have a shake and I use MyProtein’s total protein and I also add a scoop of BCAA powder to help with my recovery.

Above are just some of the essentials I like to support my workout but there are so many more and everyone is different.

What are your gym essentials?

The Benefits Of Juicing

juiceWhen it comes to eating fruit and veg most people eat it for the health benefits but I really do enjoy eating it, whether it be strawberries, carrots, apples or broccoli I’m a massive lover of fruit and veg and it’s a bonus that they all contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins that contribute towards a healthy lifestyle.

For some people eating fruit and veg either as a snack or with a meal can get pretty tedious, especially when they play a big part in the majority of today’s diet plans, so it’s good to look at how you can consume them in different ways, such as smoothies and juices.

Healthy juices and smoothies are now a popular product sold in shops across the world and come in a variety of interesting flavours, popular ingredients include kale, beetroot, strawberries and cucumber, but even though there are some many flavours to choose from there not the cheapest drink on the shelf compared to a large amount of fizzy drinks, so it’s understandable why so many people choose fizzy drinks over the healthier options available.

Even though I can walk into any shop and buy a fruit juice or smoothie, I like to make them myself as I can choose what goes into them and it works out more cost effective. I haven’t made one in a while as I use a multi-purpose blender which I picked up fairly cheap and isn’t very good to be honest, I have been looking at Panasonic Juicers as I have read some good reviews about them, the overall appearance of them is good and you can use them to make frozen desserts too.

Making your own juices may not appeal to some people but as long as you have the ingredients they only take a few minutes to make and researchers say they come with some great health benefits, such as:

  • Boosts your immune system
  • Increases energy
  • Supports brain health
  • Absorb a variety of nutrients

It’s recommended that you use more vegetables in smoothies and juices instead of fruit, as once fruit is blended it releases the sugars and increases the number of calories in the drink, which isn’t bad for an occasional drink so it’s best to mainly use vegetables.

Gym Playlist

music-playlistFor some people going to the gym isn’t an enjoyable experience, especially on a weekday when you have been in work and would rather just go home and lounge out on the sofa. I enjoy going to the gym and I’m normally in there for about 45 minutes, but I do feel the time drags sometimes which can make me less motivated to work hard whilst I’m there. In my opinion, the best way to fully benefit from your time in the gym and enjoy being there is to put my earphones in and listen to one of my favourite playlists.

I was using the free version of Spotify for a while and then I was offered a deal from them, which was 3 months for 99p instead of the usual £9.99 a month so I thought I would give it a go. I must admit, the adverts in between the songs didn’t really bother me, but since I have started using Spotify premium I have realised how good the app actually is. I have created various playlists for a number of different occasions, but for me it’s perfect for creating a playlist to listen to in the gym.

When I first got an iPhone I used to copy CD’s onto my account and put them on my phone but I got to the point where I was skipping more songs than what I was listening to, so to be able to select the songs I like and add them into one playlist is great! Now, I know that everyone has their own taste in music but I thought I would share some of the songs on my gym playlist that get me motivated in the gym.

Bob Sinclair – Someone who needs me

Bilion – Slave to the vibe

Tiesto, John Legend – Summer nights

Imani Williams, Sigala & Blonde – Don’t need no money

Blinkie – Don’t give up (on love)

Bob Marley, The Wailers – Is this love (Remix)

Disciples, David Guetta – No worries

Galantis, East & Young – Make me feel

Steve Aoki, Boehm – Back 2 U

Martin Garrix – Gold skies

These are just a few songs that I listen to both in and out of the gym but it would be great to here some of your suggestions!

Unique Ways To Fit Protein Powder Into A Healthy Diet

CaptureA few weeks ago you may have seen my post about what supplements are recommended for weight gain and what I find works for me but some people do find having a protein shake to be boring or for the majority of people you don’t always remember to consume it. This post explores how you can add protein powder into your diet through various healthy recipes.

Protein powder is a handy substance-it can be difficult to get your macro ratios right without it, and who has time to spend hours coming up with meal plans when there’s a quick and convenient way to boost your protein intake without throwing off your other numbers? The downside is, drinking a protein shake (or three) every day can get boring quickly. When your choices are limited to chocolate or vanilla shakes, it doesn’t seem like much of a choice at all.

Here’s the cool thing: you’re not limited to mixing your protein powder with plain water and gulping it down. There’s a ton of things you can do with flavoured or unflavoured protein powder, all of which can be integrated into a healthy diet to add a little more interest to your life. Boring food is a motivation killer for eating well–but your food doesn’t have to be boring!

Let’s look at some cool ways to use protein powder in interesting, unique ways that’ll save you from yet another boring post-workout shake.

DIY protein bars and bites

Did you know you can make your own protein bars? What about bite-sized, protein-packed treats? Protein bars and bites are a great way to boost your protein intake, but the store bought ones can be not only expensive, but full of ingredients you don’t want to eat.

Enter the homemade option. The great thing about this is that a lot of make-at-home protein bar recipes don’t require you to bake them at all–just measure, mix, and refrigerate! So even if you’re not skilled in the kitchen–even if you’re prone to burning water–you can still make your own high-protein treats for post-workout and between-meals snacks.

The other thing is that if you make your own bars and bites, you can control what goes in them. Allergic to nuts? Make your own definitely-nut-free versions. Eating paleo? You can avoid the artificial sweeteners and use honey or maple syrup instead. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some recipes to get you started, but you should absolutely feel free to experiment:

No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Protein Bars – just five ingredients and 25 minutes! This is as easy as making your own food from scratch gets.

Homemade Quest Bars – this recipe also includes vegan options, which shows the real benefit of making your own protein bars–you get to choose what goes into them!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bites – this DIY protein bite recipe costs a fraction of what store-bought protein snacks do, and is twice as delicious.Cookie doughAdd protein powder to your breakfast

Getting in that all-important pre-workout protein can be tough if you work out in the mornings, but fear not: you can add protein powder to all your favourite breakfast foods to give them a boost without making them weird at all.

Pancakes take on protein powder especially well, because they don’t strictly need wheat flour to come up as fluffy discs of deliciousness. But you can also add (unflavoured) protein powder to your scrambled eggs and omelettes, and vanilla or chocolate protein powder to your oatmeal.

You can even sprinkle protein powder on your cereal, if that’s your preferred breakfast food. Pick a flavoured one for an extra touch of luxury with breakfast!

Try these recipes as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to branch out:

Overnight Cake Batter Protein Oatmeal – this is the most convenient breakfast you’ll ever make, and the protein content is impressive!

Four-Ingredient Protein Pancakes – these are easier to make than regular pancakes, and high-protein, too!

Protein boost your meals

Plenty of main meals–other than breakfast–lend themselves to the addition of unflavoured protein powder. If you’re a fan of breaded chicken, you can replace some of the bread crumbs with protein powder. If you make your own hamburgers, the same principle applies. You can also add protein powder to sauces as a thickening agent–it has a pretty neutral flavour, so it won’t mess up your recipes.

Plus, it’s pretty inexpensive. Nutrition and supplement stores are constantly rolling out new offers and promotions to keep people returning, and websites like are always on top of new and exclusive money off codes.

If you’re trying to get your family to eat healthier but you’ve got some picky eaters, hidden protein powder in main meals is a great way to boost their protein intake without them ever knowing. For example, protein powder dissolves completely in a homemade cheese sauce, so high-protein mac ‘n’ cheese is an ideal way to get a fussy eater to get their daily dose of protein.

You can also add it to soups and pizza bases or homemade dinner rolls–the possibilities really are endless once you start!

Need a nudge in the right direction? Try:

High Protein, Low Carb Chicken Pasta – this recipe uses pea protein to thicken the cheese sauce, and once you’ve got that technique figured out, the world is your oyster.

Protein Power Pizza – once you learn to make this pizza base, you’ll have a quick, easy and tasty meal that you can make in endless varieties on hand all the time.

Protein powder = baking magic

If you’re confident with baking, your options for getting protein powder into your diet in fun, exciting ways explode. You can replace a percentage of the flour in just about any recipe with protein powder–up to 10% for cakes, higher for cookies and bars.

Here’s a secret tip for you–because of the way whey protein absorbs moisture, you can use unflavoured or chocolate protein powder to make the chewiest, fudgiest brownies ever by replacing about 20% of the flour with protein powder. Most of the rising action in brownies comes from the eggs, so you can even replace the rest of the flour with almond meal, coconut flour, or whatever other substitute you like. People will beg you for your secret recipe, and you won’t have to feel guilty about giving yourself or your kids a treat!

There are hundreds of baking recipes available that use protein powder–just hit up Pinterest to see what I mean–but here are a few great ones to get you started:

Chocolate Protein Brownies – these brownies take advantage of the properties of protein powder, as mentioned above, to make dense, chocolatey brownies.

Glazed Protein Donuts – what more could you want than the classic glazed donut in a high-protein version?

Chocolate Banana Protein Mug Cake – this is one for even the non-bakers, as it only takes minutes and is cooked in the microwave, so you don’t even need to own an oven.

Cool down, bulk up

Frozen desserts also lend themselves to the addition of protein powder. Both ice cream and popsicles ‘hide’ protein powder really well, so this is the perfect thing for kids–or for post-workout treats during the warmer months!

You can simply add a scoop of protein powder to your favourite ice cream or popsicle recipe–just pick a flavour that matches, or choose unflavoured powder. Traditional ice cream is already high in protein thanks to the eggs and dairy, but there’s no reason you can’t make it a protein powerhouse with the addition of a secret ingredient.

Need some inspiration? Try these recipes on for size:

High-Protein Ice Cream – this one also focuses on reducing the amount of sugar, so it’s a good alternative to ‘traditional’ ice cream if you’re watching that, too.

Protein Fudgsicles – not just better for you than the store-bought version, but way better tasting, too.

Make some fancy protein shakes

If you’re sick of plain protein shakes but you still like to drink your protein where possible, then why not make yourself a fancier protein shake? You don’t have to stick to the directions on the pack to get the full benefit from your protein powder–in fact, if you choose your shake recipe wisely, you can have a delicious treat that tastes like dessert but is even better for you than a regular protein shake.

This is handy if you have trouble eating before or after a workout–it’s much easier to drink something than sit down and eat it, and it sits more easily in your stomach, too. If you’re sick of plain protein shakes, you don’t have to give them up–you just need to change them up!

The number of fancy protein shake recipes available is basically infinite, but here’s a few to get you thinking:

Cafe Mocha Protein Shake – need a coffee fix of a morning? Try this shake for your protein and caffeine needs.

Mint Cookies and Cream Shake – this recipe shows that you really don’t have to stick to the boring, traditional protein shake.

Snickerdoodle Protein Shake – if you can imagine it, you can make it into a protein shake. The choice doesn’t have to be between chocolate or vanilla anymore!

Once you start seeing all the ways you can use protein powder other than what the instructions on the side of the tub say, you’ll realise that you can put it in… well, almost everything! Whether you’re devoted to flavoured brands or you prefer to pick up unflavoured powder instead, you no longer have to be limited to straightforward shakes, and you don’t have to worry if you just can’t face another one.

Adding more protein to your diet is a great way to eat healthier and really boost the effectiveness of your workouts–whether they be in the gym or during the rush to get the kids to school! I hope you’ll try out some of these tips for quicker, easier, healthier eating with protein powder.

Weetabix On The Go: High In Protein

hustle (6).pngRecently Weetabix have added a new product to their range, “Weetabix on the go” which is a high protein breakfast drink. I went shopping a few days ago and seen these in the cereal isle so I thought I would give them a go. I would still be having my breakfast when I wake up but normally I will have a mid-morning snack so I thought I would replace the snack for this new drink.

The drink comes in three flavours, vanilla, strawberry & raspberry and blueberry & blackberry and provides you with a number of healthy benefits. Providing you with vitamins, iron, fibre and calcium this breakfast drink is definitely a good way to start the day, but as well as everything I have just mentioned one bottle contains 21 grams of protein which is actually the same value as some protein shakes. Weetabix also have another “on the go” breakfast drink but it doesn’t provide as much protein but does come with other nutritional benefits.

IMG_0749I have tried all three flavours and they taste nice and refreshing and have the consistency of a smoothie. One thing I definitely recommend is putting them in the fridge before you drink them as the packaging suggests because I did have one that had gone slightly warm and it wasn’t good. In terms of the price their about average compared to similar products sold by other brands. I bought mine from Asda where they are currently on offer for 5 or £4 and usually they are £1.98, which as I have mentioned compared to other brands who sell protein drinks and similar products they are sold at similar prices.

I was unsure if replacing this drink with a snack would be a good idea, meaning would I be really hungry and I normally have the same thing to eat every morning but I’ve got to say this drink did see me through until dinner. It’s a filling drink and for anyone who isn’t a big eater, having one of these for breakfast would probably be perfect for you and it provides the same benefits as eating a bowl of Weetabix.IMG_0747.JPGhustle (7).pngAll in all I was impressed with this breakfast drink so I would definitely recommend you give them a try!

The Benefits Of Green Tea

personal (2).pngNot so long ago I couldn’t stand the smell of green tea never mind the taste of it, but recently I have been trying different flavored versions and I am starting to like it more and more. I wanted to start drinking it as I knew it was a healthier alternative to other hot drinks but I then learnt that it supposedly provides a number of other health benefits.

So, what does green tea supposedly do?

Antioxidants – One of the main benefits green tea provides is antioxidants which are best know for cleansing our bodies. Green tea is high in antioxidants and help to kill off any bad molecules that will try and damage your body cells.

Oral Health – It is lead to believe that the compounds in green tea can help kill off oral bacteria, as well as helping to prevent gum disease and and cavities. Another benefit it can provide for your oral health is improved breath. According to researchers green tea can help to kill off microbes which are part of the reason for bad breath.

Fat Burner – Green tea helping to burn fat isn’t believed by everyone but what some websites tell you is that it helps to boost your metabolic rate and burn a small percentage of fat. Now as I said, not everyone believes this but if you research ways to burn fat, green tea will more than likely appear.

Brain Function – The main compound in green tea is caffeine, but as well as this it also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which can work in unison with caffeine to improve brain function. Surely that mean’s drinking green tea makes you smarter?! 🙂

If you look up the benefits of green tea you will probably find more than what I have mentioned. I have also read that green tea can help fight cancer, prevent Alzheimer’s in later life and improves health in general which if they are true then it must be worth drinking. I think most people, like myself will just buy ordinary green tea to start with which I would recommend. Instead try some of the different flavours on offer, such as raspberry & pomegranate, tropical, jasmine and believe it or not lemon pie which my friend Kerry recommended, and yes I can confirm it does actually taste like lemon pie!

Like I said, a few months ago I wouldn’t of even considered drinking green tea but after trying the different flavours I am now a fan and if the health benefits it provides are trye then surely it’s something to try. Even if you don’t like it I do recommend trying the Lemon Pie flavour.

My Gym Clothing Wishlist

1 (4).pngRecently I have found that I am growing out of most of my clothes which is a pain! So I am slowly starting to fill my wardrobe with new stuff but unfortunately everyday and work clothes are more important than gym clothes so what I already have will have to do (even if they are a bit small) but I can’t help myself from looking at what gym clothes I would buy if I could afford them.

The last items I bought for the gym were from MyProtein and I’ve got to say the quality of their clothes are really good and are reasonably priced which is always a bonus. I was recently browsing the their site and started to add things to my basket, needless to say I didn’t buy any of them but I didn’t delete them as I thought I could try and buy one thing at a time. I thought I would share with you what I chose and also the shoes I would like which aren’t from MyProtein but I thought I would add them anyway.

  1. Men’s Geometric training shirt – £14.99
  2. Men’s Skinny fit joggers – £16.99
  3. Men’s cut-off shorts – £16.99
  4. Men’s  Performance long sleeve 1/4 zip top – £19.99
  5. Men’s Performance long sleeve top – £16.99
  6. Nike Roshe Run 1 – £70.00 (JD Sports)
  7. Men’s Performance short sleeve top – £14.99
  8. Men’s Performance zip top – £24.99

I already have the Roshe Run’s but in navy and they have lasted me for ages so I would like a new pair and not long ago I bought the performance long sleeve top but in charcoal and I was so happy with it, it feels really light and comfortable so it would be good to have a second one to wear.

I’m sure I could get similar items from brands that sell cheaper clothes but I have done that before and not been happy with the quality so I would rather spend a the extra money on items I know are going to be worth the money.

It would be great to know if there are any other good brands who sell gym clothing so if you know of any please do let me know!

What are the best supplements to take?

Untitled design (11).pngIf you read my blog posts you will know that one of my biggest passion’s is fitness! I love going to the gym and keeping fit, usually I go about 3-5 times a week. As well as going to the gym I enjoy cooking healthy food as you may of seen from some of my recent Lean in 15 posts where I am sharing one meal a week for the Body Coach’s book “Lean in 15”.

Anyway, I have been going to the gym for about a year and a half now and for ages I wasn’t seeing any changes but it wasn’t until a few months later I realised why. Firstly I wasn’t eating the right foods and my workouts weren’t long at all, on a good day I would be in there for about half an hour switching between the different pieces of equipment and not focusing on one part of my body.

After about 6 months I started to take things more seriously and I was now starting to read articles online about what you should be eating to gain muscle and weight. When I think back to the foods I used to eat when I started going to the gym makes me wonder what a waste of time it was! I started to eat more high protein foods such as chicken and fish and less of the rubbish such as fast food and chocolate which I didn’t think I used to eat a lot of but when I think back, I did!

When I was reading articles online I realised that as well as eating the right food and training properly, most people also consume different supplements such as Whey Protein which I had never had before, but now I have two protein shakes a day and recently I have started to take BCAA powder and creatine. When I buy protein powder I find that there are so many other supplements you can buy and if I’m completely honest I don’t have a clue what the majority of them are or what they do.

Recently I was reading an article about different supplements you can take to help gain muscle and weight and it was really informative and narrowed down some of the best supplements to take, so I thought I would share in my opinion the top 3.

Whey Protein – The most obvious and well know. It is recommended to take Whey Protein before or after your workout as it helps aid the muscle growth. As well as helping with muscle gain Whey Protein also plays a part in the post workout recovery.

I have 2 protein shakes a day, one in the morning and one after I have been to the gym.

BCAA – Similar to Why Protein, BCAA’s help aid the recovery after a workout as they send nutrients to muscle tissue. BCAA’s are also recommended to be taken before a workout as they can provide your body with energy, meaning a better, more intense workout.

I use BCAA powder before a workout and after. I buy the lemon & lime flavour from MyProtein and it’s really good!

Creatine – Similar to BCAA’s, Creatine provides you with a boost of energy ready for your workout and helps with the recovery process after a workout. I used to think that Creatine only help boost your energy levels but it also helps you gain lean body mass.

I usually add Creatine powder to water twice a day. You don’t need to add a lot, most packs come with a 5 gram scoop so it’s really easy to consume.

These are the supplements that I have most effective but as I mentioned before there are so many to pick from so I would like to know if anyone else recommends anything I haven’t mentioned, so if you have any advice please do let me know!