Everything You Need To Know About The MealPal App in London

So when UberEats launched, you know I was all over that! Working as a freelancer in fitness means I'm always running around town and quite frankly it's just amazing when lunch is less of a hassle (cos you know, I'm not perfect and I don't always get my meal prep nailed). So when I heard about the latest lunchtime app I had to find out all about it. Let me introduce you to MealPal... and everything you need to know about it...

Photo Credit: Lolography

1. Firstly, this app will only be relevant if you're based in the City of London, Soho and most recently Canary Wharf ...if you are based somewhere else, then maybe this isn't for you right now!

2. MealPal is basically the classpass of lunch. And I know that may stir up some desirable and undesirable feelings in us as individuals. You buy a package (i.e 12 or 20 meals) and you have a month to eat them all up. The cheapest each meal is is around £4.85 and it's worth noting that you can only reserve one meal per day.

3. On the topic of reserving meals. I learnt this the hard way. The "kitchen" opens at 5pm the evening before lunch and you have till 930am on the morning of to place an order. This is only a Monday - Friday thing too so will suit office workers a lot better than maybe those who work in retail / shift work

4. I'm loving how one point brings me so perfectly to the next. Working in retail (I did this for 3+ years recently) means that you don't work regular hours and you typically don't know when your lunch break will be and if you do, you probably won't know in time to use the app to order in advance and you can't guarantee that you'll be relieved for your break on time...

Photo Credit: Lolography

5. Because when you order your lunch, you choose a 15 minute slot for collection. One day when I was on the train to collect my meal I realised that the confirmation email said that the restaurant would throw out your meal if it wasn't collected in the allocated time slot. Well, you can imagine the sinking feeling I felt but I was lucky when I turned up 15 minutes late that they still had my food albeit a little cold (my own fault). But you know, meetings run over and shizz soooo you'd be a little sad if your food was thrown out, huh?!

6. Keep in mind that this is a collection only app. When you arrive to collect your food, it's usually been bagged up ready for you to go on your merry way so if you're a huge fan of lunch al-desko then you win! It's certainly not always been the best weather for eating lunch outside and the one time I did ask a restaurant about eating in, they didn't exactly welcome me with open arms!

7. Don't use it and you lose it! I had 20 meals to use between 1st and 28th March (...you can also get a package of 12 meals). When you count, there were only 20 days available to use the app so to get my money's worth I would have to eat lunch via it every. single. day. So no lunching with colleagues. No lunch meetings. Not working from home / another location. And for me, who isn't in town every single weekday will be left with 6/7 meals unused...

8. Value for money. I ate a lot of burritos from Chilangos which cost about £6 without the app so that's a saving of about £1. One day I had a meal from Protein Haus which they sell for £5 so I saved what, 20p?! ...and the thing is you have no flexibility in what you can order. Each location offers one meal per day and it can't be customised. Personally with the Protein Haus meal I would rather pay 20p more and be able to choose what I wanna eat.

9. The meals that are offered are not that substantial. One day I had a bowl of pesto pasta. No protein in that meal. One day a margarita pizza. Filling, but uninspiring. One day I had a halloumi burger which was more bread than anything. The slice of halloumi was laughable. And the chips were put in a container that made them sweat. I don't like sweaty chips. So typically, if you wanna get a decent meal, you'd actually still have to spend more for regular priced sides and drinks.

10. My favourite meal of all the ones I tried was from The Good Schnit off Bow Lane in the City. But I've eaten there before so I knew they wouldn't disappoint me! Their customer service is also some of the best you'll get in London Town! ...the queue in the height of the lunchtime rush hour speaks for itself so ordering via MealPal on this occasion could be ya saving grace!


Well, I definitely don't think this is a raving review of MealPal but it is honest and constructive, and that's what I'm here to do, right?! They've only recently launched in London and I'm sure they have plenty of improvements to make. If they continue to build relationships with their vendors in town I'm sure they will have a strong model that we just won't be able to get enough of... but my feedback, and any other customer feedback they get will need to be taken onboard!

I also gave MealPal an open opportunity to comment on this here post and here is what I received...

(Lauren Corregano, MealPal) - "Thanks for sharing your experience of using MealPal and for giving us the opportunity to reply to some of the points you raised. With regards to the collection windows, we work with our partner restaurants to ensure that users’ lunches are served up within their chosen slot to avoid too much waiting time and let them jump the queue! If users realise they’re unable to make their lunch slot after reserving, the order can be cancelled via the app before orders are sent to restaurants at 9.30am and our team are on hand to help with any queries. We’ve found that lots of our users are able to save considerable amounts by using the app - as much as £620 a year. We work with our restaurant partners to make sure that the meals being offered are varied, well-packaged and of a high quality - we’re happy to share any feedback you might have with specific partners if you would like us to do so."

So peeps, if I come across any special offers for the app ( no refer a friend codes right now *insert crying emoji*) I will be the first to share (usually all over Twitter) so keep an eye out!

Have you already tried MealPal?! Where's your favourite place to lunch when you've not had time to pack it?!

Elle :)

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p.s I was provided with a block of 20 meals for the purpose of review... which I didn't even get to use all of :( ...All opinions, are my own, clearly (I hope!)


A Little Life Update / March '17

Well, I have the conversation more and more about how times goes faster as you get older. It's obvious, y'know. A month when you are 32 years old is a lot shorter than a month when you are say, only one year old! Anyway, my last life update post was in November, so no better time than now to check in and share a few bits of news which don't really warrant a blog post all of their own!

Photo Credit: lolography

I've added new classes to my schedule! ...Back in November I shared with you that I successfully auditioned at FRAME  for their Frame Lift class. Since then I also got trained up in their BoxFit concept and am slowly but surely learning the ropes of some more of their classes so I am able to not just take on cover but potentially be offered permanent classes. But there is no more potential about it as this week, I start teaching my first permanent Lift classes at Frame Shoreditch! Now I hope you're more of the early bird type than me as classes start at 645am and 715am (both 45 minutes) but I figured I could handle this once a week with a little organisation (pack my bag the night before) and getting to bed at a decent time! If you have any more tips to help me feel fabulous with a 5am alarm please do share them with me!

Did you see my feature in Women's Running magazine?! ...you can see more about this on my Instagram post (below) but if you haven't already, I think you still have a short amount of time to pick up the April issue and read my Contributors interview as well as my London Winter Run Race Report.

Amidst everything, I managed to take my business to launch successfully! ...you remember Borrow My Blender right?! I've been busy working on that business plan throughout 2016 and finally got the go ahead to go to launch group (kinda like Dragons Den) with The Princes Trust. I wasn't applying for a loan so the process was a little more straightforward but I still had to complete financial projections and such. So now, I think all the serious work begins and I know how powerful word of mouth is so please do give me a shout if you think we could work together or hear of an opportunity that you think would be a good fit! ...Keep an eye out on Facebook, Instagram and the website too to see where we will be popping up next (pssst, we'll be at lululemon Covent Garden for Mothers Day weekend and London Marathon weekend so pop by and see me for a complimentary smoothie...).

Photo Credit: Adidas Runners

I've managed to keep running even though my usual M.O is to stop after a race! ...the picture above is from International Women's Day at the new Adidas Studio on Brick Lane. I've been attending the Wednesday evening sessions whenever my schedule allows me and IWD happened to fall on a run club day... If I can't make the Wednesday evening sessions, I try to make it along to the Monday Adidas Runners South London sessions (mixed) which are usually a push in pace for me (boys clearly make the group run faster!). In my last life update, Winter Run Club had just smashed session number one and already we spent 14 weeks running together, ran our race (see update above) and have dissolved! I love being a part of a community when it comes to running and hope to get more involved with Adidas Runners if / when the opportunity arises!

I was also lucky enough to be invited along to a shoot with Adidas Runners with other members of the community so keep an eye out for when the campaign drops...

Last but not least, I've managed to rope myself into another audition, this time at Best's Bootcamp. I attended the launch of the studio back in May 2016. Now I didn't plan this, but I saw the audition notification on Instagram and figured I would enquire. I plan on attending even if just for the experience.... but who knows, eh?!

...and breathe!! ...I do have so much more coming up to share too, but I will save that for next month when it's all confirmed.

What's going on with you?! 

Elle :) 

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Capturing The Trails with Stance Europe

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

That little smudge in the photo, just to the right of the very centre, is me, setting off on what was my first ever trail running experience. It was the closest I've been to being "new" to running in a long time... and I loved every single minute of it. 

There's not many events that could get me to set a 6am alarm on a Saturday morning. I sometimes can't even roll out of bed gone 8am to make it to Parkrun, but this weekend was different. I'd be heading to Surrey, Devils Punchbowl to be exact, with a coach load of people probably (well, I can confirm, most definitely) more experienced than me. But that didn't bother me because we all have to start somewhere and quite frankly I couldn't think of a better group of people to enjoy this day with...

The group was made up of a group of Outdoor Bloggers from Freestak, Runners Need staff, Runners Need customers (competition winers) and the team from Stance Europe themselves. The aim of the day? To conquer the trails and nail the art of creative photography while we were at it, being taught the basics by photographer, James Carnegie. 

Rookie Mistake No. 1: Not planning ahead and thinking breakfast was provided, therefore ending up having a coffee, two bananas and an orange for breakfast, some 5 hours after waking up

We started the day with our first workshop with James on how to get the most out of our smartphones  when it comes to photographs. Personally, I've never been a fan of using my iPhone for photos but I think thats mostly down to the fact I haven't been bothered to figure out how to do it properly. I'd pretty much thought I'd nailed the running selfie but it seems that James has some very high standards!

The main points we covered in this first workshop were the rule of thirds, leading lines and the rule of space. We also covered angleometry (think, the angle you take the photo from, framing and panning (to create movement in your photo). As I'm writing this I realise how much it is to convey in a blog post... I highly recommend if you're interested in photography you go take a little course (I took one back in 2015 I think which covered the basics and helped me to use my camera settings rather than relying on auto mode).

Photo Credit: IG @mrrichiep   

Armed with my iPhone 6s and a Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand for Smartphones it was time to hit the trails...

Rookie Mistake No.2: Is it just me or does your iPhone never have enough memory?! I'm gonna have to delete every app on it so I can actually have some fun with it!

I had no idea what to wear and I did freak out a little that I didn't have trail shoes but then I was advised to just wear trainers that I didn't mind getting muddy / dirty and that had good grip. I wore my Skins KPropium tights as my hip was feeling a little dodgy and I figured the tights basically working a bit like kinesiology tape would be a huge benefit. We were super lucky with the weather being bright, dry and quite sunny while we were out and about. 

Photo Credit: James Carnegie on behalf of Stance Europe

Our goal as a small team of 6 was to run to a point in the park, stopping to take in the views and capture our best photos. The terrain was muddy, uneven and the worse case of undulating I could ever have imagined! With plenty of stops I had time to take in the views, get to grips with what James had shared with us as well as recover! I can't even explain how much time flies when you're running along verges, jumping over puddles, running up and down hills and capturing it all on camera. Before we knew it (well, my stomach informed me anyway), it was time to head back to base for the second workshop on editing and a spot of lunch.

My biggest takeaway from the editing workshop was the workflow that James suggested for editing photos:

Exposure / Brightness > Contrast > Highlights / Shadows > Saturation > Sharpening

I had literally been using a similar workflow, just the exact opposite way round! He also recommended Snapseed and VSCO apps as editing tools (I used to used Snapseed back in the day! ...and although I have VSCO on my phone I haven't had a chance to get my head around it!). I loaded up on carbs at lunch, oh, and cider then ended this adventure the only way I know how... with a nap on the coach headed back to London Town...

To see a sh*t ton of photos from the day, hop over to Instagram and check out #CaptureTrails and #StanceRun

Are you an avid trail runner?! Do you enjoy taking photos when you're out clocking up miles?! 

Elle :)

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Check out the range of Performance socks from Stance for Women || for Men


5 Reasons To Hit The Slopes The Next Chance You Get

I just realised recently that it's been just over 5 years since my last real ski holiday in 2012 when I went to Levi in Finland. I mean, I've been skiing since then as I ended up living in Finland for a while, but my last real holiday... like 7 full days straight of skiing was that trip.

Me circa February 2012

I've had a ski trip on my "list" for the last couple years too but you know how life is... I even applied for a campaign which involved a ski trip a couple months ago but wasn't lucky enough to get selected. So until I make it on my next adventure, theres no harm in reminiscing about why I love when the mountains do call...

It's one of the few vacations that you actually could do with getting fit for...
It takes a fair bit of fitness to be able to spend hours and hours on the slopes. it won't do any harm to hit the gym before your trip to strengthen your legs, core and arms especially. Get your body used to the moves and positions you'll be using and also the level of endurance involved. During the season, some gyms even put on skit fitness classes so you don't have to do it on your own!

It can be an amazing combination of sunshine and snow...
My first ski trip to France was amazing... we took breaks at the top of the mountains, sitting in the sunshine. Wearing a base layer and a gilet was enough for most of the time too! When I came back to the UK my face was so sun kissed I didn't need to wear foundation for weeks! ...Finland was the very opposite, with temperatures of -40 so if you do want sunshine you need to pick your time and place appropriately!

Late night sun n Lapland, 2012

It's another opportunity to curate a fab wardrobe...
I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves the feel of new kit! I love shopping for everything about skiing; a standout jacket, cute socks, pyjamas to hang out in your Chalet, a warm hat, base layers with a pop of colour...

Check out my Pinterest 'Hit The Slopes' Board for outfit inspiration and more! 

You don't have to go too far to find slopes...
These days, with it almost being cheaper to fly to Europe than to travel across the UK, it means it's easier than ever to get to an awesome ski resort. Check out this post from Cheapflights for 5 European ski resorts with really fast airport transfers too!

Apr├Ęs Ski life is the one...
All I remember is afternoon tea with a fresh baked caked, 3 course dinners, and if we could stay up long enough, trips down to the pub to hang out with new friends made each day. When I went to Les Deux Alpes, there was even a heated outdoor swimming pool which you could take a dip in while it was actually snowing!

Evening Reindeer Sledge Ride, 2012

There are also so many other activities that you can get involved in, from cross country skiing (read about my experience here) to snow shoeing, husky rides and tours to see if you can spot the Northern Lights (if you've chosen to ski that far north)

When was the last time you hit the slopes?! Which is your favourite resort?!

Elle :)

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Kitchen Empties #3 - The Holland & Barrett Edition

Back at the start of 2016, I started this Kitchen Empties series. I got the idea from the beauty bloggers and make up artists I follow who all do these posts with their "empties" chatting about all the products that have finished in their beauty cabinet. I'm not a beauty blogger, and even so, I don't have enough "smellies" to create such a post ...but what I do, do, is eat a lot of food. A LOT. So I decided to save some my my kitchen empties and share them with you if I especially loved them. Here is #3, picking up from all the way back in January 2016 (yikes)... and is a special edition 'haul post' from Holland & Barrett.

Back in January, I popped along to the Holland & Barrett store in Marble Arch to celebrate their opening. This particular store is actually their biggest in the UK including a vegan nail bar, an olive bar, a body composition experience and so much more! I spent almost an hour wandering around checking out all the amazing products that they stock and picked a few to test out and share with you here...

Ecodenta Extra Black Whitening Toothpaste 
So this product was new to me - basically black toothpaste! I've been using in now for about 6 weeks and love it. I mostly use it at night, as it keeps my mouth pretty fresh all night. It's ironic that it has whitening properties when it actually is as black as coal! It's also currently on offer for £1.99 (from £4.49) || Shop Here

Choccy Peckish Peanuts
I'm a huge fan of snacking and sometimes I want something that doesn't taste like its been dug out of the ground and can be classed as a little treat. I think chocolate covered peanuts do this for me technically being a good source of protein and fat then smothered in chocolate. I have no idea how many servings this bag is suggested to be but for me I can eat the whole lot in one go... 

Nature's Garden Turmeric 400mg 
Turmeric has more recently found itself a place on the superfood list being renowned for its anti inflammatory properties. I've tried it in smoothies and it's not bad. I've tried cooking with it and its great... bar the fact it turns everything yellow which it comes into contact with! In capsule form though, its perfect. The dosage is to take one, twice per day which I try to do especially on days where I have been excising or feel my body just needs a little extra help with recovery.

Yogi Tea Organic Choco
Who doesn't love a good cuppa?! ...I try not to drink too much coffee at home so I like to have a range of herbal teas in my cupboards to help with my hydration levels. If you're expecting this to taste like chocolate though, think again. Think more spicy and warming perfect for a chilly afternoon (...maybe with a slice of banana bread?!).

{ Link }

Pulsin Maple and Peanut Protein 50g bar 
These have been a firm favourite of mine for years now, but as with most things I go through phases. They're perfect right now seeing as I am basically vegan(ish), they contain no dairy or soya too which are things I try to avoid. They are also the perfect portion for your handbag to save you in those emergencies between meals or when you are 'on the go'.

{ Link }

What have been your favourite "finds and finished" products recently?!

Elle :)

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p.s I was gifted these products in a goody bag but as always all opinions are my very own! ...and the biggest testament to these products are that firstly, I chose them, then I ate them and finished them! lol ;)


How To Build Your Perfect Post-Workout Smoothie

A couple weeks ago I attended an event on the South Bank hosted by John Lewis for their #MyWellbeing campaign. On the evening itself, we took part in a nutrition talk before heading to the kitchen to try out some smoothie recipes. With it being so cold the past few months I'd really fallen off the bandwagon with smoothies and business wise (Borrow My Blender) my head had been stuck in finishing my business plan so more writing about smoothies rather than making them.

Hayley Pedrick from The Nutrition Coach talked us through pre-workout smoothies and the benefits, post-gym/workout smoothies and what to include but I wasn't a huge fan of the recipes we tried out on the night - I personally like to use between 4-6 ingredients maximum and also things you'd find in your cupboard everyday (if you're like me anyway). So I thought I'd share with you my simple fail safe guide for putting together the perfect smoothie using whatever you have on hand...

Choose Your Base
Almond milk / Coconut water  - I use 1 cup (approx 250 - 260ml)
Banana (1/2 frozen) or avocado is a good alternative

Add a Protein Powder (optional)
I've been using vegan Chocolate & Vanilla protein powders

Throw In Some Fruit & Veg (1/2 fruit, large handful of veg)
Mixed berries

Pimp It With Superfoods 
Cacao nibs (1 tbsp)
Bee pollen (1 tbsp)
Cinnamon (1/2 tbsp)
Flax (1 tbsp)

What Else?
Almond butter (1 tbsp)
Agave (if you need it sweeter, to taste)
Oats (2-3 tbsp)
Natural yogurt (2-3 tbsp)

Recipe Suggestions: 

1. Almond milk, banana, chocolate protein, cacao nibs, blueberries, oats, almond butter

2. Almond milk, banana, vanilla protein, cinnamon, almond butter, oats

After exercise, we have 30min recovery window which is when your body is best prepared to receive & store carbs (uptake is 2-3 times more rapid than at any other point in the day). This is best received as a liquid rather than solid for absorption and hydration so smoothies are the perfect option.

We also got to test out a selection of blenders available from John Lewis; working with Beki (of Miss Wheezy), we used a Kenwood model which took a little getting used to even just to get the lid off! It made me super happy with investment in a Vitamix at home!

Before we tucked into our smoothies on the evening, we took part in a mat Pilates class led by Lottie Murphy. Lottie says that "Pilates is great for anyone and it doesn’t matter what level of fitness you are or how flexible you are, it’s a fabulous form or mind and body conditioning. It’s amazing for your core and we focused a lot on that during the class as it’s an area a lot of us neglect but it’s also amazing for strengthening and mobilising your spine and joints.

The key with Pilates is precision of movement and alignment, so it’s important to really focus on this during each exercise to get the most benefits."

What's your go to post workout smoothie / snack?! 

Elle :) 

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How I Handle Life On The Go

There are times in life when you really have to stop and marvel at the catch 22s you're faced with. When you seem to nail something (like meal prep) suddenly life gets so damn busy that you don't even have time to eat... you even sometimes forget to eat (surely this can't be just me?!)! This has definitely happened to me in the past (notably when I started a routine including swimming a couple years ago) and more recently where I've upped my weekly running mileage whilst trying to fit in all my teaching, meetings, appointments and the traveling that goes with running from location to location.

Here's me throwing caution to the wind out on the trails...

I took a moment out (yes I did) to stop and think about the best strategies to help you reach your full potential without being held back by the inconvenience of things like heartburn or Indigestion (we've all been there, right?!).

...Having just had an epic "on the go" weekend - think early rise, coach trips, trail running, photography workshops, catered food, more travelling - I got a stark reminder of the results of when my schedule gets the better of me. Therefore, as per usual, this post is as much for me as it is for sharing any wisdom with who might be reading...

So I've scribbled down a mix of tips for those of us with hectic lifestyles as well as those who have a rigorous exercise routine so we can get out there and experience life without being held back by the inconvenience of things like heartburn or indigestion...

I'm gonna start with the usual lecture about getting enough rest...
I'm a big fan of sleep, and a big fan of downtime. I aim to have one day per week where I do not leave the house at all just to give my body the rest it deserves. When it comes to sleep, I try to make this a priority as I physically can't function well on less than 8 hours a night. I realise we're all different when it comes to the amount of sleep and rest we need but the one thing we have in common is that we do all need it. When you sleep is when your body repairs itself and puts to use all the training you've been doing. What's the point in running miles and miles if you don't allow yourself to actually reap the benefits?! If you continue to train without any recovery, you're more likely to do yourself harm, become injured and not being able to do anything at all!

do it today: get to bed tonight at the time you always promise you will.

It's time to seek adventure...

Then don't forget to eat...
The biggest problem I always encounter is not being able to eat enough. When I get too hungry, I usually end up being bloated which is just uncomfortable and makes me feel self conscious wearing tight fitting clothes. I try to ensure I always have a snack on hand in my bag to keep me going until I can get myself to a decent (usually home cooked meal).... which takes me perfectly onto my next point...

Planning your meals for the week helps... 
My goal each week is to plan all the meals I will cook, order a food shop to be delivered with the required ingredients and then even if I don't have time to "meal prep like a boss" (cook 4 days meals in one go) I can just refer to the list when I need to and decide what to make based on time / energy. The recipes I cook usually create 2-4 servings each time so there is plenty left over for a meal the next day or that can be popped in the freezer for really desperate times. Take the opportunity when you order your weekly food to stock up on snacks that you can carry with you each day for the times you get caught out.

do it today: pick a few new recipes from that cook book you haven't opened yet. write a list for shopping tomorrow / order online for delivery. 

It's all about having the ability to reach our full potential...

You know what they say about Sundays...
How a Sunday well spent, brings a week of content?! ...well, I think if you just spend 5-10 minutes each evening going through your schedule for the next day you'll be set up for success. For example, I was totally unprepared for my trail run this weekend when I got my wires crossed and assumed breakfast would be provided, only to realise there would only be tea / coffee and fruit available. If I'd prepared the night before, I could've popped some overnight oats in the fridge to grab on my way out, or pulled out all the ingredients for an epic breakfast smoothie which takes less than 5 minutes to blend and can also be taken on the road. But lesson learnt!

do it today: check your diary now for tomorrow. is lunch or dinner already sorted (i.e eating out?). will you be out all day? do you have something you can pack for lunch? what will you have for breakfast?

Do you have any top tips for handing life on the go?! 

Elle :) 

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p.s This post is in conjunction with Rennie® but, you know me, all thoughts and opinions are all my very own ;) 
p.p.s photo credits IG @mrrichiep       
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