How To Snack Smart When Living A Busy Life*

*or in my case, when studying...

Since I started my Masters back in October I’ve been struggling big time with eating right, at the right time. My lectures were twice weekly, for 3 hours in the evening. That means that right slap bang in the middle of my lecture is when I should be eating dinner but the best I get is a 10-20 minute break. There’s certainly nothing stopping me eating during my lecture but ideally it needs to be something that can be eaten quietly (y'know, no rustling packets to distract everyone) or if I need an actual meal it needs to be something that's already cooked and can be eaten cold.

I relied heavily on Pret baguettes and popping into Planet Organic for their student meal deal and/ or overpriced snacks but I can’t sustain that forever; not only would it impact my finances but soon enough I’d start to see and feel the impact on my waistline. So instead, I’m trying to be organised by ordering my food shopping to be delivered weekly (I always used to end up doing it when I remembered every 10-14 days) and buy all my snacks in that order so I don’t have to resort to buying (expensive) junk food.

Thought I’d share with you some of my finds from the supermarket and beyond that will hopefully keep me healthy over the coming weeks, months ...and couple of years! It’s also relevant for those of you who may sit in long meetings throughout the week or even studying for your Personal Training qualification (yes, you’ll do a fair bit of sitting through all that anatomy and physiology!). So, in no particular order: 

ONE. Nutri-Bombz
These guys contacted me on IG and of course I jumped at the chance to try out their snack packs. Based in the UK, Nutri-Bombz make gluten free, low calorie snacks which can be delivered straight to your door. They also have vegan options, or protein snacks all made from 100% natural ingredients. Testament to the fact these tasted great is that I ate them all...

TWO. Fulfil bars 
These came recommended by my blogging buddy, Fran, so I picked up three different flavours in Boots. Although they tasted great, I thought they were pretty expensive at £1.99 each and quite small (or maybe that’s greedy me speaking! Haha!). I also don’t think they agreed with my stomach; I’m lactose intolerant and these bars use whey protein to pack it in. Check out the whole range here in Holland & Barrett.

THREE. Pulsin bars 
These have been a favourite of mine for years and years now. My very favourite is the maple and pecan version which, pictured above, has had a bit of a branding / packaging makeover at some point. They’re a little on the dry and powdery side but I still love them as they’re nutty and delicious! Holland & Barrett stock the full range too, so check them out.

FOUR. Eat Natural 
I got hooked on these when I'd pop into my local Sainsbury's for a little top up shop. I actually bought the "protein packed" versions and then I decided I needed mix it up a bit so added the almond and apricot ones to my snack box. And basically, Holland & Barrett sell everything cos they have a few few of the Eat Natural range here.

FIVE. Grenade CarbKilla
People have been going crazy for these protein bars since the Quest Bar wave seemed to have died down a little. And they're pretty decent to be honest. I picked up four different flavours (eaten three so far) and have enjoyed them all. You won't be surprised to know that Holland & Barrett stock a selection of the range.


I'm pretty sure I'll find some new finds as time goes on too!

What do you throw in your bag when you know you won't be able to eat?!

Elle :) 

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Fitness. How You’ve Been Getting It All Wrong.

You’ve been getting it all wrong. Working out, that is. Getting fit. Being strong. Lifting. Boxing. Ballet dancing. ALL WRONG.

I learned that I’d been getting it all wrong on the first day of December this year (2017) when LOVE magazine posted the first video of their ‘Advent calendar’, a montage of influencers (supermodels, Instagram personalities, singers and some I’d just never heard of): Ashley Graham sprinting up a street pulling a weight-sled (without weights on it). Emily Ratajkowski “carbo loading” by draping pasta all over herself (reminiscent of my three year old stepson). Slick Woods doing ballet (whilst I am not using this blog to critique any of the models’ techniques in the videos, I implore anyone who’s a stickler for ballet form to please, not watch this video).

The next day, I learned that the grande dame of French fashion, Carine Roitfeld, had teamed up with Technogym to produce a fashion book, shot by Steven Klein (a totally important fashion photographer). Including physiques as “diverse” (their word) as Victoria’s Secret models Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls, Grace Elizabeth and Candice Swanepoel, the book claims to celebrate a “fresh, new beginning for 2018 with diverse beauty and strong, healthy bodies… [I]n a modern representation of beauty and body.”

The photos show each model in a bikini or pants ‘n’ bra combo, wearing very high heels, posing next to Technogym equipment. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar “benefit” the Special Olympics. Technogym CEO, Nerio Alessandri, says that the project conveys their message with “a very glamorous tone. We believe that a fashionable dress fits better on a healthy body.” There are some more bullshit, gratuitous and deeply patronising comments inspirational quotes from Alessandro and Roitfeld, talking about the joy of exercising, and how they’re “in awe” of athletes, “especially those with disabilities”.

So in awe, that they couldn’t feature a single one of these athletes in the calendar. Not one real, professional athlete is featured in the calendar. I don’t doubt that these models train hard to stay in shape, but if Technogym are so inspired by athletes from the Special Olympics, why didn’t they feature them in their calendar? What kind of message are they trying to sell? Why chose the one percent of the one per cent of women who fit the incredibly exacting standards of the fashion industry? How is that fresh or new? Am I the only one with a lot of questions?

I wonder how the athletes competing in the Special Olympics feel about the fact that they “benefit” - what does that even mean? - from the sale of the calendar (which I presume isn’t £10.99 from W.H. Smith, and you don’t get offered a massive bar of Galaxy for £1 at the till when you buy it), but aren’t good enough to be featured in the calendar.

As for a fashionable dress fitting better on a healthy body: The calendar doesn’t feature any dresses. Only bras and pants. And mega high heels. And some body oil. And gym equipment (not being used). And according to this calendar, healthy bodies only look one way: Like that of a Victoria’s Secret model.

The LOVE advent calendar (directed by another totally important fashion photographer, Phil Poynter) has really branched out in terms of body diversity: Ashley Graham and Kate Upton, two “curvy” models, are featured. Two from 24, or 8 per cent if you’re like me and prefer a percentage. Otherwise, we’ve got Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn, Doutzen Kroes (and more), who - guess what! - have all modelled for Victoria’s Secret.

Oh, and the hashtag/ theme/ motto for the LOVE project is #StayStrong.

I really thought we’d made it. When Instagram, the current social media reflective of all things zeitgeist, exploded with accounts showing women sweating, not giving a shit and most of all feeling full of happiness and self-acceptance, I thought it was time to celebrate.

We didn’t need fashion magazines any more (praise be!); we’d finally broken free of the passive aggressively-titled Women’s Health. We had each other, our unedited posts of healthy, happy and make-up free faces and bodies to share. The glamorous side of fashion hadn’t gone away, but there was now an alternative where we could immerse ourselves in a universe of like-minded women who most certainly would not get cast as a Victoria’s Secret model. And, most importantly, most certainly would not give a damn about not getting cast as a Victoria’s Secret model.

But then fashion realised that their market was suffering because of us. Women like you and me were rejecting their values, and creating our own. We stopped buying magazines promising rapid weight loss and selling us £400 shoes, and worked out instead. We stopped letting ourselves be told what to do by an industry. We stopped playing by their rules. The industry lost control.

The LOVE advent calendar, the Technogym calendar nonsense and the contractual requirement by Victoria’s Secret that all their models post videos and pictures of their workouts is their attempt to regain control of us. #StayStrong- but according to their rules. The inclusion of Ashley Graham and Kate Upton (who are both incredibly beautiful women) is a pathetic, impotent, half-hearted, stiff-necked, begrudging, tokenistic and insulting nod to female “diversity”. I have to put it in quote marks because it’s such a shitty, pitiful excuse for real diversity.

Ashley Graham and Kate Upton may have been rejected by Victoria’s Secret (to read a spokeswoman sling Mean-Girls style, teenage hormone-fuelled, bitch-fest-on-WhatsApp, ‘you-stole-my-boyfriend’ shade at Kate Upton, read here), but they do not reflect female diversity. They’re highly paid models who are in the one per cent (but not the one per cent of the one per cent). I don’t look like Kate Upton or Ashley Graham. You don’t look like Kate Upton or Ashley Graham. They may not be a size 6 with that unfathomable, almost alien combination of perky, full breasts; concave abdominals, a peachy bubble butt and thigh gap, but they’re still not reflective of women I see in the changing room of the gym.
Not only have we not made it; not only is it not a time for celebration of the rejection of unattainable beauty standards, I think it’s actually got worse. Girls of 21 years old (Slick Woods, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Alexis Ren… I’m surprised Emily Ratajkowski made the cut: She’s old AF at 26. OAP Ashley Graham hobbles in on her zimmer frame at frankly prehistoric 30, so I guess I can’t accuse LOVE of being ageist) are telling us to “stay strong, bitches”. I’m sure they’ve all had their struggles, but I’m 37. I can’t take seriously a brand that uses a 21 year old Valley Girl as the definition of strong.

The models are not the problem. I don’t take issue with the Bellas and Gigis of this world. Sometimes I look at pictures of them and marvel at their collagen-rich skin and wonder about their speed-of-light metabolism. I hope that they all build successful and rewarding careers. Yay the new era of supermodels.

What is the problem is the capitalisation and sexualisation of “strong”. Spornosexual was coined by journalist Mark Simpson in 2014 as a response to the evolution (or perhaps from another perspective, the devolution) of the Metrosexual man. Men’s bodies had become the “ultimate accessories”, and the Spornosexual was born. You say ‘accessory’; I say ‘objectification of the human form’. Hugh Jackman’s changing physique in his various outings as Wolverine is often held up as the perfect example of the rise of the Spornosexual. Jackman went from Mister Softee to Mr Shredded Like Wheat.

Women have been Spornosexualised too. Supermodels used to be tall, slim (not skinny) and beautiful. The supers of the 90s that I grew up with did not have thigh gaps. Check Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen: Definitely no thigh gap. Then came Kate Moss with her bow-legged self, the world fell in love with her (as a 17 year old Kate Moss fan, I was insanely jealous of a friend who was bow-legged) until Giselle arrived in the early 00’s with muscle tone, cleavage and a her famous Brazilian butt (which ironically, was considered pancake-flat by a Brazilian guy I once dated).

It’s no coincidence that the Victoria’s Secret fashion show took off when Giselle arrived. Before then, it was a lame and obscure parade of knickers and bras, suitable for middle America, it’s puritanicalism and mortal fear of nipples. Giselle, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum et al., strutted down the catwalk looking sexy, healthy and fun.

VS and it’s fashion show steered fashion back to the male gaze. High fashion will always hold close to it’s heart the angular, androgynous coat-hangers of the modelling world, but those girls weren’t going to sell panties to pre-teens still stuffing their training bras with loo paper. What would shift billions of dollars worth of thrush-inducing, fanny-slicing, man-made fibre-tastic underwear is the female Spornosexual: Kendall Jenner pretending to be Rocky; Bella Hadid flipping a tyre wearing stilettos; Jourdan Dunn in a g-string swinging a baseball bat. We’ve completely outdone the Spornosexualisation of men, for whom the very term was coined.

It’s a joke. It’s a sick, sick joke. We’re back to square one- or worse. I get that the younger generation are meant to be “woke” n’all, but the libellous juxtaposition of strong in a thong is being sold as the only way to be: Because actual real athletes and women like me and you sure as hell aren’t being asked to shoot inspirational calendars.

Accompanying her LOVE advent video, Emily Ratajkowksi gives an impassioned memo about feminism, freedom and choice, urging that women should be free to do whatever they want and however they want, without the fear of judgement and harassment. Like drape spaghetti on their boobs. Emily, I whole-heartedly agree with you. But I still don’t understand why these marketing exercises only reflect the “diversity” (those passive aggressive quote marks again!) of the one per cent of the one per cent. And if women are so strong and so powerful, why, Carine Roitfeld and Katie Grand (LOVE magazine editor), did you choose male photographers? Is that not literally the definition of the male gaze? And if female athletes of all abilities are so inspirational, why are you only paying lip-service to them or getting models to pretend to be them? And Technogym guy, why is it that the women in your calendar can wear high heels but they can’t use the equipment you sell? Why does ‘strong’ have to have ‘sexy’ after it? Why can’t I go to the gym and not have to be sexy? Why did our new and exciting safe space of sweaty gym faces and thighs-with-no-gap get taken over by 21 year old influencers pretending to be athletes, as directed by male photographers and female fashion editors who, aged 60 (Roitfeld) and 46 (Grand) respectively, should have something a bit more original up their sleeves than a jumped up, faux-ironic Sports Illustrated shoot? Is this feminism? Is this choice? I don’t f*cking think so.

Lex ;) 


A SimpElle Guide to Navigating Fitness in January

Photo Credit: Donna | Hues of Delahaye

Each and every year like clockwork, the sales start for the holidays and then all the fitness hype lands. Deals on joining gyms, new athleisure to tempt us to spend more money then go to the gym out of guilt, all the “clean eating” bandwagons of Whole 30, Veganuary and Dry January, the challenges and the packed classes and gym floors. I guess all the regulars just sit it out until the hype dies down?! But if this is the year you’re taking the leap then I have a few handy nuggets of knowledge you should keep in mind...

ONE. Don’t join one gym when you can join them all. 
There are a ton of gyms and studios out there (especially in london) and there are now also a ton of ways to get access to them without committing. I recently downloaded the ESquared app to try it out over the holidays; the app allows you to find two-hour gym sessions and one-off classes in central London.

Photo Credit: Natasha | Natasha Wynn PT
I've booked myself sessions at Energie Fitness in Bethnal Green (£8) to use the gym floor and an indoor cycling class at Digme Fitness Moorgate (£15) so far.

It’s pretty simple to use however I found it easier in the list view and the filters (especially by time) helped me to navigate all the available sessions. When you book your session, you get given a 4 digit code (I screenshot it for reference) which you then give to the facility to get access.

Places You Should Try: 
- Mob45: (£12) I reckon the gym floor will be quiet. This place used to be GymBox Farringdon before they moved and upgraded. It's still owned by GymBox though... just a grey version
- YMCA Club: (£8) they have a pool, which I've always looked in on and hoped to get to swim in there one day
- Powertone: (£12.50) for 30 minute classes on the powerplate machines
- Project Fit: (£20) pricey, eh? probably the price they charge for drop in sessions anyway, I imagine. But you should try it at least once...

Aaaand use code ELLEL15 to get yourself 15% off your first session on the app (valid until 1st March) | download on iTunes or Google Play app stores

TWO. Things to remember when you go to the gym 
When you’ve been going to boutique studios all the time, you forget that regular gyms are kinda different. So don’t forget a padlock, take a towel and any toiletries you might need in the shower or after. A pair of flip flops might come in handy for the shower too...

THREE. Cancel, cancel, cancel 
This one is especially related to classes. Every class has a specific capacity for health and safety reasons so that limits the amount of people than can attend. January is a busy month and we all start off eagerly but if you book a class and then can’t make it just cancel at your earliest opportunity... even if it’s an hour ahead. It means someone else gets the chance to go along rather than the class being half empty because of no shows.

FOUR. Be kind 
We all started somewhere, right? If you see someone looking a little lost, ask if they need any help. There must've been a time you could've done with a little help too? So we can all understand how it feels when you walk into a new gym or a new class and it seems like everyone knows everyone... except you!

FIVE. Stay for the cool down people 
Now more than ever, you need the warm up and the cool down! After a couple weeks (months or years?!) of not moving much, jumping straight back into your normal routine or starting from scratch is when you are most likely to pick up an injury. So do yourself the service of getting to class on time so you get involved with the warmup and stay for the cool down. If you’re working out by yourself or going for a run or ride then you really have no excuse; if you need some inspiration for warmup exercises I’ve shared a couple over on Instagram (...a few more coming soon too!). When I’ve posted all five I’ll pop them in a blog post too.

I’m sure there are a ton of other useful tips to help us get through January so by all means please share your favourite in the comments...

Elle :) 

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Guest Post: What to Do in Early 2018

I don’t know about you, but 2017 flew by! At first it seemed slow, and then, boom, hello 2018. 2017 reminds me of Mr. White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This year might as well have been in a suit, hopping around in a panic, saying “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date.” With 2018 now here, there are still some things you can do to celebrate a fresh new start.

Honour 2017
Thank 2017. Thank whatever you believe in, including yourself. Thank the lessons. Thank the blessings. 2017, with all its highs and lows (personally, locally, nationally, and globally), thank it. It’s not to say you agree with every drama it presented on a platter, every sadness it brought, every frustration, every anger, every tear. But it was 2017. It existed. It served its purpose. And it’s going soon.

Celebrate You
Celebrate the ‘you’ that made it through the year. No matter how you made it, whether you crawled, ran or soared, you are here. You made it. You are looking back on the year. Look at all of those 360+ steps you made and be proud. Write a letter to yourself (or record a video to yourself) reflecting on the year and celebrating you.

Let it Go
Whatever needs to stay behind in 2017, leave it there. 2017 will take care of it. 2017 will dispose of it lovingly for you. Let it go. It might not be easy. It might not be as simple as saying, ‘Let it go’. But you could try. It’s an option, and a gift. There’s even a gift in the intention, in the desire to let go, even if you end up not being able to release. Either way, you get something out of it.

Spring Clean Your Inbox
Clear out all the deadweight in your inbox; the miles of read and unread messages you no longer need. You could go hardcore and clear them all out in one day, or you could set yourself a daily goal and clear a certain amount each day.

Also, clean/update your contact list. You could use themailfinder.co to check if some of the email addresses you have still exist. While you’re at it, unsubscribe from the newsletters you’ve lost interest in.

Spring Clean Your Living Quarters
Start getting rid of the things in your living space you either don’t need or have been looking to get rid of for a while. Make space. Your eyes will breathe better. Making space is multi-effective. It’s not just the impact it has on the space, but within yourself also.

You can do all, one or some of the above to see out the year, or you can come up with your own ideas. Whatever the case, if I’m to leave you with anything, it is this:

You’re here.

You made it.

May 2017 release you tenderly. And may 2018 embrace you like a long-lost friend.

Wishing you a blessed New Year.

Delicia Warren is a freelance writer, passionate about the environment, organic farming and food production. An advocate for a holistic approach to the world’s problems, she has a particular interest in the small changes individuals can make to their lifestyle to minimize their environmental footprint.


Work Smarter: Go Row Indoor with British Rowing

I know how to row. I actually remember being on a rowing team in primary school but I never got to compete as I was away for a wedding (one of the random things I remember). I never shied away from the rower in the gym either but it only really got the time of day if something else, maybe everything else, was unavailable. I do however remember doing a workout with a friend once where we ran 500m and then rowed 500m for 5 sets. And it was killer. In more recent years, I’ve used the rower with my Personal Training client, so I definitely knew the basics, right? 

Well a few weeks ago, I went along to an indoor rowing session with British Rowing and Olympic athlete Alex Gregory and I came away feeling like I wanted my very own rowing machine in my living room (it’s too cold for me to desire being outdoors on the water!). I learnt a lot, and to be honest, being paced by an Olympic athlete on the rower next to you is enough to make anyone work hard enough to get a decent workout.

We started the session by going over some basic technique covering the two phases of the rowing stroke:

1. The Drive where you’re pushing with your legs.
2. The Recovery where you move back to the start.

For the Drive phase, the body movement sequence is – legs, body, arms. Then for the Recovery, it’s the direct opposite - arms, body, legs ...60% of the power should come from your legs, 30% body and 10% arms. 

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the session was in regards to the ratio between drive:recovery in that they don’t need to be even. The clue is kinda in the name of each phase - drive for the drive and recover on the recovery. This helps you to control the SPM (strokes per minute) by focusing on the power in your drive rather than just sliding up and down the rail! Learning how to do this will help you to row more efficiently and improve your overall pace. 

Another major takeaway was about the resistance setting. I’m sure most people think that popping it up to 10 will give you the best workout but I learnt this really wasn’t the case. We were advised that really and truly, you should and can get a decent workout on 5. Yes, just 5.  

Last but not least, I realised all the reasons why we should choose the rower over other cardio based pieces of equipment in the gym. The thing with cardio is that most of the time it involves high impact like running which can be tough on your body. Cycling is another great option that I’ve enjoyed especially over the past year but I failed when I tried to keep going outdoors as the weather got colder (mostly down to not having the kit I needed) and cycling on a bike indoors is not for me. You won’t ever find me on a cross-trainer either so that just leaves the humble rowing machine. And it really doesn’t take much time to get a good workout - hence the post title - work smarter. The fact of the matter also is that you get out what you put in; the intensity is determined by the person doing the workout... which also means it’s a suitable piece of equipment for pretty much anyone and everyone! 

British Rowing devised a workout personally for me which you can see below. I gave it a try at the gym (slightly modified so I could train with Sophie) but absolutely loved it. I did about 40-50 seconds of each exercise plus the rowing intervals for the circuit having followed the warmup and tabata parts of the programme. 

Look out for indoor rowing classes at your local gym or just jump on a rower and get creative (if you’re unsure how to use it ask a member of gym staff to show you the basics). 

So who’s gonna give the indoor rower a second chance?!

Elle :) 

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