5 Tips for Training Hard with a Busy Study Schedule

This time next year, I will be in the middle of my Masters levels studies so it got me thinking; I already know quite a few friends who openly share the difficulties of training when you are studying so I figured I would start thinking about it now. If you are in the middle of earning your online degree then your life probably consists of a lot of studying and assignments. Earning your degree through Villanova University, for example, will set you up for a successful career, but in the process it’s important to keep a healthy school and personal life balance. If you’re the type who enjoys training at the gym there is no reason to put it on the backburner, as you can still work on your studies while training hard.

Photo Credit: Lolography

To help you find that balance we’ve put together five tips that you can use to help you train hard and leave enough time for studying:

Create a Schedule
The very first tip that we can offer is to create a realistic schedule that you can stick with. Without a schedule it can feel like you are just bouncing from one thing to the next with no clear plan in place. You may want to lay out a full one-week schedule so you can get a better look at your available time. Include any appointments you may have that week, your class schedule, assignment due dates, and your work schedule if it applies. Next, you can start to allot study time through the week, whether it is on a daily basis or less frequent. By now you should have a very clear picture of how your week will go, which then allows you to figure out when you can get to the gym to train. Be sure to write your gym time on the schedule, so that if anything else pops up you’ll be able to tell if it will conflict with training.

Always be Prepared
Another tip is to always be prepared to go to the gym at the last minute. You can do this by keeping your gym bag in the car, ready to go. Should something clear up in your schedule and you’ve suddenly got free time, you can head to the gym.

Join a Sports Team
It can be hard to get motivated when it comes to training at the gym, especially when you've got a busy schedule. You may find it easier if you join a sports team/league. Taking part in a sport with others can act as motivation to get you out there because you know they are depending on you.

Choose the Gym Based on Location
Another tip is to choose a gym based on its proximity to school. If your school happens to have a gym on campus that you can join, even better! By choosing a location close to the school you’ll make it easy to go from studying to training and vice versa.

Something Is Better Than Nothing
While it may be impossible to fit in as much training time as you like, keep in mind that something is always better than nothing. Any time you can spend training will benefit you physically and mentally, so even if you can only fit in a bit of time at the moment, it’s still worth it.

There’s No Need to Give Up Training
By using these tips you’ll discover that you can find that balance between school and training, and be healthier and happier in the process.


How to Keep Fit Over Christmas

Christmas, for many people, is a chance for a well earned break. You may be working full time, and looking forward to a few days with family, be home for the holidays after a tough semester at university or college, or just allowing yourself a break from your online studies, perhaps an online MBA. Every year, Christmas shopping seems to start a little earlier too. We also sometimes see this as an excuse to start the Christmas eating, drinking and partying a little earlier too, eh?! While it’s perfectly acceptable to pig out a little over Christmas, trying to keep as fit and healthy as you can will make it much easier to get back into your normal routine come January. This is especially important if you are training for an event. You’ll be amazed at how much your fitness levels can drop after only a few weeks.

Watch What You Drink
People are always surprised when they find out how many calories and how much sugar there is in their favorite alcoholic drinks. Sure, we’ve all heard of the dreaded beer belly, but that’s just beer, right? Unfortunately not. A glass of red wine can have up to 200 calories. Have the odd glass of wine, or beer, but try to drink spirits with a slimline tonic, and drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.

Eat Before You Go Out
Don’t be tempted to skip meals, thinking this will save calories. It’ll just make you more likely to eat bigger meals when you do, or make you want to snack later in the night. Instead try to eat smaller meals more often, so you aren’t tempted to over indulge.

Now I’m not saying you need to go for a 10km run on Christmas morning (but I have been known to do this!), a few days off is fine, as is doing shorter workouts, or reduced intensity for the whole period. Just try not to stop completely for more than a few days. You will start to lose fitness, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to get back to where you were.

Get the Family Outside
You might not want to exercise for a few days, but why not get your whole family doing some outdoor activities. Ice skating is a great, festive family activity. Or you could just take a nice country walk, together as a family. Take the kids out on their new bikes if you can. Have some fun.

Smaller Portions
Have a little of everything. Don’t deny yourself any treats that you want. Just don’t go crazy. Have a chocolate every now and then,  but try to resist eating the whole box. The same goes for those mince pies.

Get Stuck in to the Sprouts
Sprouts are in fact a Christmas superfood. So, eat as many as you want. They are full of vitamins and minerals which will give your immune system a boost, and help keep you from getting any bugs over the holidays.

You can easily enjoy all Christmas has to offer, without losing your fitness levels and gaining a little extra weight. Maybe, try to limit any Christmas indulgence to Christmas week only, but don’t feel guilty for any diet slips. You’ll be back to your online studies, or the hard days at the office in no time (gah!)

Give yourself a little break. It is Christmas after all.

Elle :)

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4 Ways To Stick To Your Fitness Goals In The Winter Months

As the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, it's difficult to maintain your workout routine. The winter blues may seem to hinder your fitness aspirations, but there are strategic ways of staying on track. Adjust your routine to accommodate this time of year and set yourself up for success by joining a gym, tracking your meals, enlisting in fitness programs and setting recreational goals. Here are four ways you can stay motivated and focused on your fitness goals during winter.

Join a Gym
Escape from the outdoor chill and utilise the indoor workout facilities of your local gym. A gym is the perfect environment for you to explore new workouts and keep active during the dark, cold winter months. Many gyms also have equipment and features that let you engage in workouts that you’d usually enjoy in the warmer months. For example, if you’re an avid swimmer, find a gym with an indoor pool. You can stay cozy and still keep up on your personal records for the 100 meter. Many gyms also offer group classes, which are a great way to boost your energy and also increase your social network. Choose classes that are fun and re-energising — like an energetic dance class, indoor cycling classes or yoga — so you can go out and combat the winter world!

Food Tracking
Comfort food tends to sneak into your diet during the winter months, as there are so many wonderful warm foods and holiday treats to enjoy. Stay aware of what you’re putting into your body so you have the proper nutrients for your workouts. You can start a food journal in which you log all your meals and plan out your food schedule. You can also find a digital food tracker, or diet app, that seamlessly logs your meals and provides statistics of your calorie and nutrient intake. The MyPlate and Lose It! apps are helpful tools that will keep you aware of your daily food consumption.

Fitness Programs
If you struggle to stay consistent with your workouts, sign up to a fitness program that will guide you toward your goals. You can choose an app that will keep you on track and give you daily exercises and circuits, which will build your strength and stamina. The Sweat With Kayla app provides you with a six-day workout plan that includes three sessions of resistance training and three sessions of cardio. Each session lasts around 30-40 minutes and provides step-by-step instructions so you aren’t overwhelmed. The program is designed to gradually increase in difficulty, so you don’t start the first few weeks huffing and puffing trying to keep up. You can post your progress pics onto the app, so you can have a visual record of your journey. Make sure you have a phone with a good camera like the iPhone 7 Plus so you can take high-quality progress photos, anytime and anywhere. Other helpful fitness apps include My Fitness Pal, PEAR Personal Coach and ActiveX.

Set Goals
Set lofty goals for yourself, that will keep you accountable. For example, if you enjoy running, sign up for a long distance run — either a 10K, a half-marathon or a marathon. Make sure you only sign up for a race that you have time to prepare for, as injuries may occur when there hasn’t been sufficient training. You could also sign up to a sports tournament, for an individual sport like swimming or for an organised sports team you’re a part of. Having an event to work towards will inspire dedication to regularly workout and will be a great source of motivation for your personal fitness and health.

Any strategies that you use yourself?! 

Elle :) 

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Run With Us: Essential Warm-Up Tips For Winter Running

Run With Us is a new series I've started to coincide with the launch of the newest run club on the block - #WinterRunClub - each and every Thursday evening in the lead up to the London Winter Run (full details for each week can always be found on my Facebook Page or on Eventbrite. It's completely free to get involved and if you choose to join us for the London Winter Run you can get a few pounds off your entry with code SIMPELLE3.

The aim of the posts are to inspire you to keep pounding the pavements throughout the colder weather, to share knowledge with you and of course, to inspire you to Run With Us!


Warming up before your run is essential for avoiding injury in the Winter months. Fortunately just 30 seconds of each of the following exercises will switch on the muscles used for running and activate your nervous system. Stretching cold muscles (particularly in static stretches) can lead to injury and stepping out in the cold Winter air can have a similarly negative effect.

The cool air shocks the muscles, reducing blood flow causing them to feel tighter and leaving them prone to injury. By doing a few minutes of active, or dynamic stretching before you head off you can improve your running and reduce the risk of injury.


Here is the first exercise to open up your hips and to prevent tight hip flexors (very common with runners!). Start in a seated position on the floor or on a mat with your knees at 90 degrees. Flip just the knees over to the other side and rotate your torso as you do so, following the direction of the knees. Keep repeating this movement, holding the rotation for a couple of seconds each time.


This is a great mobility exercise to open up the hips and prevent any lower back pain or muscle ache. Starting in box position on your hands and knees, with your shoulders tracking over your wrists and your hips tracking over your knees. Make sure your feet are also hip-width apart. Imagining that you have a pen attached to your knee cap, draw knee circles with one leg. Perform 10 rotations in one direction and then change direction of the circle. Repeat on the other leg.


This is the king of the hip-openers and also will alleviate any tight lower back muscles. You can either hold the deep squat position, with your elbow fixed on the inside of the knees (effectively opening up the hips more). Or for the frog squat, whilst maintaining a straight back and open chest, lift the hips up and down in a rocking motion. Perform either exercise for 30 seconds.


Although this warm-up for the upper back and shoulders is best done when lined up with your back against a wall, you can still do this from standing. Taking a deep breath in with your arms above your head, breathe out and draw the elbows down by the sides of your waist as you squeeze the shoulder blades together. You want to imagine a walnut stuck in between your shoulder blades and you’re trying to crack that walnut! Make sure you relax your shoulders whilst performing this exercise.


Your calf muscles and Achilles tendon are crucial to running. By giving them a good warm up your running will feel easier and you’ll reduce your chance of major injury. Bring one foot about an inch away from a wall, with the other foot placed behind about a foot length’s away. With both feet facing forward and pressing against the wall with both hands, draw your front knee towards the wall so it reaches it. It is important here to keep the heel of the back foot glued to the ground. Hold for about 15 seconds on one side and then switch legs.

Do you warm up before you go out to run?! 


Yasmine is a West London based Personal Trainer, Running Coach and founder of Say Fitness Personal Training. Having worked as a Graphic Designer and Brand Manager for 10 years, including a stint as a University Lecturer at a private University in California, she decided to pack away the desk job and combine her talents in teaching and fitness with her love of marketing and branding to qualify as a Personal Trainer. Now as a dedicated and passionate Personal Trainer with a diverse skill set, Yasmine aims to help you change your lifestyle habits and set realistic goals for a happier and healthier mind and body!


4 Skincare Tips For Active Women

What happens when you put together a Personal Trainer and a Make Up Artist?! ...well, it isn't a bad joke but it did produce this post! My very good friend from University, Elaine Lynskey sat down with me one wet and chilly afternoon to chat all things skincare when it comes to being active and I wanted to share everything she told me with you here!

Take Extra Care In Colder Weather

There’s the unfounded myth that when the weather gets colder, moisturising your skin isn’t as important but we know that this isn’t quite the case. The harshness of the colder temperatures plus the added windchill are very drying on your skin and your face doesn’t get the luxury of being wrapped up underneath cosy winter jumpers.

Elaine suggested adding a little beauty oil (2-3 drops) to your moisturiser especially when the colder months arrive. The benefits are plentiful but include hydration of your skin, rebalancing and it’s also anti ageing. Don’t be afraid of using oil on your skin even if your skin is classified as oily as you can actually fight oily skin with oil. The key is to look for the right ingredients in the products you chose; Look for something with either jojoba or rosehip oil which are healing, help to reduce scars, sun damage and lines. If you’l l be running or working out outdoors apply your moisturiser plus oil before you head out. Otherwise, simply just add it to your morning or evening routine.

How You Clean Your Skin Is More Important Than When 

So the focus here is on cleaning your skin properly rather than stressing about cleaning straight after exercise. Elaine suggested that we avoid wipes to clean our skin as they contain a lot of alcohol which strips your skin of it’s natural oils. If you deprive your skin of oil, it goes into overdrive producing excess oil which can lead to breakouts.

A good place to start with your skin cleansing routine is with a micelle solution such as Bioderma Sensibio H20; it works to remove makeup, soothes irritated skin and minimises redness. It also doesn't disrupt the natural pH levels of your skin yet can remove the most stubborn waterproof mascara.

The perfect product for the next part of your routine is an old favourite of mine, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. When you use the product which has a cream base with the cloth and warm water it opens up the pores and cleans your skin more effectively whilst providing gentle exfoliation.

Keep That Sun Protection In Your Moisturiser

I know. It’s cold, and you’re even sure the sun exists any more. But the fact of the matter is if there is daylight, the sun is there somewhere. It certainly can’t do any harm to keep using a moisturiser with added sun protection especially if you will be spending time outdoors (cos, damn, on the London Underground, we can barely get fresh air let alone daylight!). Elaine recommends a minimum of factor 20 when trying to decide which product to use. You can obviously just use a separate sun cream to your regular moisturiser if your favourite doesn’t already have it added. This summer, I tried and loved the P20 Once A Day range as it’s sweatproof, safe for use on your face and very water resistant.

Manage Your Imperfections 

Personally, this is a massive area for me when it comes to skincare; I’m 32yo and still suffering from blemishes which then leave me with uneven skin tone. I’ve also been informed that although my skin is blemish prone, it’s actually dehydrated (can we ever win?!)

Imperfections include, but are not limited to spots / blemishes, dryness and chapped lips when it comes to being active. Elaine recommended Weleda Skin Food in winter months which is good for dry skin. She also recommended Lucas Papaw Ointment for dry, chapped lips.

To reduce the risk of further breakouts, avoid using heavy foundations as they don’t allow your skin to breathe. Elaine suggested that if a base is a must have, use a concealer stick on the areas that you want to cover such as under eyes, on blemishes and around nose. Also don’t forget to keep your brushes clean by washing them once a week (okay every couple weeks in reality!) with hot water and soap before letting them dry naturally to avoid contamination and added germs.

We then heard that spots on the hairline caused by sweating is an issue some of you have to deal with. For this, you can try products containing Argan Oil both pre- and post workout as it protects skin from environmental damage, is great for oily skin to as it controls oil production and is also great for those of us with sensitive skin. As an added bonus It can also be used as an overnight treatment!


You can check out what Elaine gets up to via her website or on Instagram.

If you have any other skincare concerns or amazing tips that you'd like to share then please leave us a comment below! 

Elle :)  

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