30 April 2015

LOMAX Chelsea // Grill Market

Living in London, it can feel like there are just too many options sometimes. No matter what you're into, there are myriad possibilities. Yet with neither time nor money being limitless for most, your list of things to do and places to visit never seems to get any shorter. During London Health Week, I was determined to cross at least a few things off my ever-expanding list!

LOMAX Chelsea is a lovely little studio on Fulham Road. I've been hearing good things about it for a while, but as the list of fitness studios I want to check out is longer than my arm, I hadn't gotten around to it yet. I saw that they were involved in London Health Week and decided to use it as an excuse to go. What really appealed to me about The Lomax Way is its holistic approach to fitness - it's a space that encompasses group fitness classes, personal training, nutritional advice, and wellbeing (sports massage and physiotherapy) and even a healthy cafe. Everything for your health and fitness needs under one roof basically.

The studio offers free trial sessions for first timers. As spin is my go-to group fitness class (I really do need to start getting more adventurous and trying something new!), I signed up for their signature class Cycle Blast.

When I arrived for the lunchtime class, I checked in at the reception desk downstairs, and then went to have a nose around the changing rooms upstairs (a great changing room is the hallmark of a good gym after all). Small but perfectly formed, they were replete with lockers, private showers and small vanity desks. Unfortunately the lockers required a padlock, so I just took my things into the studio with me. Also, I noticed that the gym charges for the use of shower towels, which I always think is a bit tight. We were given a complimentary bottle of water for the class, but frankly I would have preferred a free shower towel instead as I always take water to the gym with me anyway (who doesn't?).

Spacious, private shower rooms

Bring your own padlock!

Making full use of every bit of the studio's rather petite dimensions, the stairway leading up to the first floor is currently playing host to a pop up of Catalyst Active Wear. They're a brand I'd heard of as it's fairly local to me (based in Peckham, and they've had some events at Victor's Lab), but had never seen in the flesh, so it was nice to have a little flick through some of their lycra. The tights looked and felt like a really high quality technical fabric, and like they'd fit really well. I also loved the bold colour choices. Definitely a brand I'll be keeping my eye on and trying in the future.

Colourful tights from Catalyst Active Wear

The Grill Market, the studio's healthy eating cafe, acted as a waiting room for those waiting for the class to start, and after a few minutes we were told that the location of the class had been changed at the last minute. Cycle Blast usually takes place in the basement of the studio, in a darkened space, in what I imagine to be the club like vibes we've all grown to love and expect of spin studios in London these days. However, technicians had arrived to do some work on the room at this inopportune moment, so the spin class was moved upstairs. We ended up walking through the main gym area upstairs, which I think is used for other group classes, and also for personal training. There was some great technical equipment in there, but it's all tucked into quite a small space, so I imagine it must feel quite busy if there's more than a handful of people in there.

The spin class was in a small, bright room, separated from the rest of the studio by a curtain - and most of us agreed it was actually a nice change from the usual dimmed lights. There were only six of us in the class so it had a really nice intimate feel to it, and I ended up chatting to more people than I usually would. The ladies who own Bella Kinesis were in the class with me - it was nice to put a couple of faces to the name of a brand I knew! The girls were of course modelling their range, and looked very stylish: I really like the signature blue of the Bella Kinesis range and the designs are really flattering. I on the other hand, had once again turned up to a class wearing a free race t-shirt, which is just how I roll. But maybe I should treat myself to a lovely Bella Kinesis top and mix it up a bit?!

The work out was intense, and despite the air-con being switched on, both the small room and I got sweaty very quickly. The success of spin classes relies so much on the charisma of the instructor - and luckily our instructor Mikey had buckets of it, and also knew how to push us hard. At one point we used weight plates to do some upper body work. Using weights during spin has become quite popular recently, but I'm not sure if I like it. If I want to do an upper body work out, I don't go to a spin studio. When I come to a spin class I just wanna ride! I think it can work when the weights are integrated into the class more thoroughly, but I don't really see the point of using weights for about 5 minutes of a one hour class. The spin itself was great though: really varied and challenging.

After the last song played out and we'd done some stretches, I was more than ready to head back down to the Grill Market and have some lunch. The concept is very simple: they serve grilled meats, fish and veggie options, accompanied by salads that are dressed healthily, without using added sugars or bad fats. They also make a selection of fresh juices, smoothies and shakes and some relatively 'guilt-free' desserts. With a London Health Week wristband I knew I could get a free drink with my meal, so I opted for an apple, lime and ginger juice. It certainly packed a punch! It tasted really good, and I reckon that combination of vitamin c and ginger could knock just about any ailment you may feel approaching on the head.

Some of the lovely things you can have in your juice or smoothie

For lunch, you could choose from a range of grilled items, ranging from halloumi to salmon and pork. All the meat and fish is free range or sustainably sourced and good quality. I opted for the pomegranate glazed grilled chicken, and then chose three different scoops of salad to go with it.

The meal was a really generous portion. Sometimes places can scrimp on the salads, but this plate really was the perfect ratio of protein to veg for me! The chicken was really delicious and succulent, with the pomegranate giving it a sweet edge that complimented the grilled flavour really well. The crisp salads were the perfect accompaniment. One salad was kale, which had obviously been massaged with love as it wasn't at all tough; another salad was a bitter radicchio with tomatoes, cucumbers and dill; and the last salad was a kind of red cabbage slaw with radishes. I think if the salads on offer varied daily, I could happily eat here all the time and not get bored! It's the sort of thing I would eat at home, and exactly the sort of thing you should eat after a work out, with the protein of course helping repair your muscles and the carbs replenishing your glycogen stores. More gyms should have cafes like this.

Pomegranate glazed chicken with three salads

All in all, I had a really great experience at LOMAX Chelsea. I think that their fusion of fitness, nutrition and wellness is the angle more and more studios will take in the future, as people realise that training alone can't create a healthy, happy body. A holistic approach is needed and The Lomax Way aims to deliver this.

LOMAX Chelsea
293 Fulham Road
SW10 9PZ

14 April 2015

10 Ways to Eat Well on a Budget

Having recently become self-employed, I've had to take a long hard look at a lot my expenditure, including my food shopping. I love going to the shops or the market, taking a look at what's in season or on offer, and putting whatever catches my eye in the trolley. Without paying attention, I can end up spending quite a bit unnecessarily. Now that I'm keeping a tighter hold of the purse strings, this sort of whimsical shopping trip has been put on hold and I now have to look at how I can best spend my money to feed myself every week. Luckily, because I'm currently working for a food company, I do get a free box of fruit and veg every week, which is a massive help. However, a girl cannot live on carrots and leeks alone, and so I'm still implementing some cost-saving measures.

With this in mind, I've put together a list of 10 Ways to Eat Well on a Budget. I hope this will be useful for those of you on tight budgets, or those of you who are just looking to shop, cook and eat more economically.

1. Meal Planning & Shopping Lists

How often do you go to the shops, buy a load of things that look nice, and then come home and realise that none of those things could actually work together to create a meal? Exactly. By planning what meals you are going to cook for the coming week in advance, and writing a list with the ingredients you need to cook these, you can go into the shops and just buy the things you actually need. This means you'll spend your money more wisely and waste less food; plus by sticking to a shopping list it's easier to steer clear of those tempting promotional offers.

2. Your Local Market

A fruit & veg stall at Kingston Market

If you're lucky enough to have a market near you, you should make the most of it! Markets are a great place to pick up fresh, seasonal fruit and veg, and they're often cheaper than supermarkets. Another great thing about markets is you can buy exactly the amount you need. If your recipe only requires one carrot you can buy just the one, rather than buying a 1kg bag because that's all they had at Tesco Express. At markets it's also very easy to do some price comparisons. I usually browse the different fruit and veg stalls quickly to see which ones are cheapest for the things I need, and then I'll make my purchases at a few different stalls where the produce looks fresh and the prices are low.

3. Bulk Cooking

For a lot of people, Sundays is the day that they like to do meal prep for the coming week. These days I tend to do my bulk cooking on a weekday as my work schedule has changed. Either way, when you have a spare morning or afternoon, it's a great use of your time to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen to make a big batch of something - one pot dishes are always a great idea like soup, stews or casseroles. Not only is this an economical way of cooking (wastage is lower when you cook a large batch rather than single meals), it also saves you time in the long run, as if you've made enough to last the week, you simply have to reheat your dinner each night rather than cooking from scratch after a long day at work.

A slow cooker is a great way to cook a big batch, because once you've prepared and added your ingredients, you can leave it for 6 to 8 hours until it's finished cooking. I bought a really cheap slow cooker from Tesco - which was worth the price many times over, given how much time and effort it has saved me.

4. Tupperware

This goes hand in hand with the bulk cooking - of course once you've cooked a huge meal, the question is where to store it all! Tupperware is a great idea because you can store the meal in portion sizes, plus tupperware is easy to stack in your fridge or freezer. I've acquired the majority of my tupperware simply by keeping the ones I get from the odd take away. I also have a more sturdy set that I bought from Lakeland, and a big circular tub that I use for soups and stews. I also keep a lot of honey jars, big yoghurt pots etc to store bits and bobs in. Basically, you can never have to much tupperware or too many containers!

If you haven't got any tupperware yet, go down to Poundland and buy a basic set to get you started. Not only can you store the food you made in your bulk cooking sessions in it, you can also use it to take lunch into work. You can either take a portion of the one pot dish you made, or you can chop up some vegetables, add some meat, fish or eggs and make an easy salad!

5. Your Freezer

Your freezer is also a great companion to your batch cooking! If you've made more than you think you'll get through in a week, simply freeze some of it. Then if you need a meal in the following weeks, simply take it out the night before and leave to defrost in the fridge.

Frozen fruit and veg are always a great thing to have in the freezer - frozen berries for example are a lot cheaper than buying fresh, and you don't have to worry about them spoiling. Frozen fish fillets are also a fantastic thing to have in the freezer, especially ones you can cook from frozen.

If you know that you have a few items in the freezer, you're less likely to pick up that take away or ready meal on the way home, because you know you can rustle something up even if your fridge is looking a bit sad and empty.

6. Aldi & Lidl

These two budget supermarkets have really upped their game over the last few years, and between the two you can certainly get everything you need for your weekly shop, at a fraction of the price of the bigger supermarkets. I can do a weekly shop at Aldi for about £12. In comparison, a smaller top up shop at Sainsbury's often costs around £10 for a lot less food!

A weekly shop at Aldi

Aldi and Lidl aren't just great for food - they also have special events where they sell certain gadgets or clothing. Both have sold cycling and running clothes and accessories in the past, as well as kitchen gadgets - so it's worth signing up to their emails and popping in when you know they have something you need on offer.

7. The Reduced Section

If you happen to be passing a supermarket near closing time, it's usually worth popping in to see if you can pick any reduced items up. Things like bread and meat are great items to pick up in the supermarket when they're about to pass their 'display until' date and have been heavily discounted. When you get home you can pop them in your freezer to use later.

8. Store Cupboard Essentials

If you have a fully stocked store cupboard, you can make a wholesome meal even if you only have some rather sad looking scraps in the fridge. Store cupboard essentials include tinned tomatoes, stock cubes, tinned or dried beans, rice and pasta. For example, if you only had an onion, some carrots and some celery in the fridge, you could actually whip up a hearty minestrone soup by adding items from your store cupboard.

It's also worth investing in a range of spices: these can help liven up a meal that doesn't have many exciting ingredients!

If you don't have a fully stocked store cupboard yet, I would recommend investing in an item or two every week to slowly build it up.

9. Eating Out

Lamb special noodles at one of Time Out's best cheap eats, Silk Road

Of course, we all love to go out for a meal every now and then, and luckily London is full of fantastic cheap eats for those looking for a bite to eat without blowing the budget. If you're dining with friends, why not share a few plates so that you can try a number of things without paying the full price? And if you don't finish it all, don't be afraid to ask for the rest as a take away - there's tomorrow's lunch sorted.

10. Grow Your Own

If you have even a tiny amount of outdoor space, you can grow some of your own food. You can grow lettuce in old wine cratespotatoes in bins and tomatoes in grow bags. You can easily grow a number of different tomato varieties, like heirloom tomatoes, black cherry tomatoes and sungold tomatoes, mixed punnets of which are sold for a small fortune in supermarkets.

I hope I've shown that you don't have to resort to beans on toast and instant noodles when eating on a budget!

What are your top tips for eating well on a budget?

06 April 2015

London Health Week: My Top Picks

Did you eat one too many chocolate eggs over the Easter weekend? Don't worry, London Health Week is just around the corner to help you get back on track. Taking place from 20 - 26 April, London Health Week gives wristband holders access to discounts at a number of health-related shops, studios and cafes.

There's a crazy amount going on for London Health Week; so I've selected the highlights below, giving you an idea of what's happening at a glance:


Their organic farm shop and cafe, with locations in Notting Hill and Pimlico, will be offering 50% off their chilli bean bowl with seasonal vegetables, and 50% off organic chocolate, chia and cashew energy balls.

Is offering 50% off their five grain porridge, and 50% off their create your own breakfast bowls.

This Covent Garden institution will be offering 50% off a London Health Week signature dish and smoothie.


50% off signature juice Uprooted, and 20% off online orders.


Need to update your workout wardrobe? Active in Style are offering 20% off online orders.

If boutique fitness apparel is your thing, you'll love 20% off all non-sale items at Fashercise, which stocks brands such as Charli CohenZoe Karssen and Olympia Activewear. Personally, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this Charli Cohen tee, which has been on my wish list for a while:

Charli Cohen Dressed To Kale Tee


Are offering a 20% off voucher for their healthy breakfast range, redeemable at Waitrose and Amazon.

This company sells incredible-looking cranberry, blueberry and seabuckthorn powders to jazz up your porridge in the morning. They're offering 10% off individual purchases or you can get all three varieties for £18.


These monthly subscription boxes deliver a selection of exciting superfoods for you to discover. They are offering 20% off their classic and deluxe boxes.

EatFirst delivers healthy meals to your house or workplace in 15 minutes, and is offering 50% off your first meal.


This Chelsea health hub is offering 50% off Lomax Signature Classes and Lomax Super Series classes.

This super cool fitness studio is offering 15% off any fitness class.

This is one of my favourite spin studios in London, and is offering 50% off spin and a free shake at lunch time classes.

If you haven't tried Insanity yet, now's your chance: they're offering 50% off classes.

With wristbands costing just £10, entry to London Health Week is a bit of a bargain. The full list of offers is available to read here. There will also be talks, tasting sessions and demos held at the the two LHW hubs, Raw Press and Madd Hatter's Cafe.

I'm looking forward to hitting a fitness class, trying some new food and doing a bit of shopping!

Are you going to try something new for London Health Week? Or will you be enjoying a discount on some of your favourite brands and studios?

01 April 2015

What I Ate Wednesday: smoothies, slow cookers & spices

I love reading other bloggers' What I Ate Wednesday posts, mainly because I'm nosey about other people's habits and enjoy seeing the sort of thing people cook and eat on a day to day basis. So this week I'm writing a WIAW post myself, to give something back to all the other nosey foodies out there!

Today started with a session at my Crossfit box, so I had a pre-workout smoothie before heading out the door. I only started hitting the gym in the morning fairly recently, as I used to go after work. But I quickly realised that I was good for nothing if I hadn't had a little something to eat beforehand. I can run quite happily first thing without eating, but I definitely can't do a high intensity work out without some fuel in the engine! So this morning I had my usual banana, cashew nut butter and almond milk smoothie before a session of push jerks and pull ups. I regularly use Meridian nut butters in my pre-workout shakes, as a healthy fat like nut butter (Meridian use no palm oil and no added sugar) is a great way to get some serious energy, fast! 

After I'd scraped myself off the gym floor and made it back to my flat for a shower, I had breakfast. I definitely wanted some protein as I'd worked out, so I decided to have scrambled eggs on buttered toast. I also had some romaine lettuce with grapes - not a combination I've eaten before but they were both in my fridge, so I thought why not? I always try to have at least one portion of fruit or veg with my breakfast. It turns out that sweet grapes are actually pretty tasty with salad. To drink I had my favourite tea of the moment, redbush tea with a splash of almond milk. I always use Alpro unsweetened almond milk as it has really mild, creamy flavour, is low calorie and has no added sugar, so you don't have to worry about splashing it generously in smoothies, teas etc. As I also need a caffeine hit to get me going in the morning, I had a black coffee too.

Redbush tea with almond milk

Scrambled eggs, toast, salad, grapes

My mid-morning snack was another cup of redbush tea with a Trek berry burst bar. I got this in my Wholefoods goody bag at the end of Richmond Half Marathon last week. It tasted pretty good for a protein bar, but I prefer the Trek protein flapjacks, as the crumbly texture really does it for me.

Trek Berry Burst Protein Bar

For lunch I had a bowl of minestrone soup that I'd made in my slow cooker on Sunday. I'd had a leftover parmesan rind, and some bacon lardons, so minestrone seemed like the perfect way to use both of those things up easily by adding a few inexpensive ingredients, many of which I already had in my fridge or store cupboard (carrot, onion, celery, tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, spaghetti). I'm not usually a huge fan of soup but I think I'm going to be eating it more often going forwards, as I've just started a new job where I sometimes don't get home until after 9pm in the evening. At that time I definitely don't want a heavy meal and so a soup that I can simply re-heat fits the bill perfectly.

Slow-cooked Minestrone Soup

I was in Richmond this afternoon, and just couldn't help myself when I walked past the Hummingbird Bakery. So yeah, this happened:

Red velvet brownie

For tonight's dinner, I had a turkey steak which I seasoned with this amazing American BBQ seasoning by Steenbergs Organic. They're a Yorkshire, family-run company that make some really interesting spice blends using organic and fair trade spices. I had romaine lettuce and mange tout for veg. I also made a quick chipotle mayo for the steak by mixing mayonnaise with some of Cool Chile Co's chipotle ketchup - I love that stuff! Give it a go if you love chipotle!

Turkey, veg and chipotle mayo

Looking back on it, I ate quite a lot today! What did you eat? Did you have any smoothies, slow-cooked foods or spices today?