Reviews

Reviews on everything Health and Fitness related.

Sometimes when I go to the gym with the intention of training myself after clients, it looks like I am moving in with the amount of bags which I have! I am now in the habit of getting changed in between ‘work’ or ‘play’ which has hugely benefited my own workouts, but then I also have a bag full of other ‘stuff.’

I get questions about what I actually have in there and whether it is necessary, so I thought I would do a blog post on the subject! I have also done a video which you can click on down below!

what's in my gym bag

Gym Bag – Olivia & Joy
I got this bag whilst I was in LA back in October, I am pretty sure I didn’t pay as much as $98 for it but that is the price on the website. I love it, mainly down to the colour combination but also because it is nice and big with lots of pockets!

Nike Metcons 
I purchased these about a year ago as I wanted some specific shoes for squatting in. They are great because of the flat sole and I always feel more confident and sturdy doing squats (Especially heavy ones) when I wear them. I always carry them in my bag and put them on at the gym so they haven’t been outside at all!

Smartshaker 
I have a cupboard full of different shakers. I swear it expands on a weekly basis. I like the smart shakers because they have detachable compartments where you can store protein powders or supplements when you are travelling.

Hip Circle – Slingshot 
If I could pick just one piece of gym equipment to have, this would be it. I use my hip circle in every gym session. It is great for activation and warming up your legs before your main workout. I love using it at the end for glute (bum) supersets as well, in particular crab walks and glute bridges. I prefer this one over other bands because it is a bit more sturdy, the rubber loop on the inside ensures that it doesn’t slip down your legs, and I just find it has more tension in it so feel it more!

Weight Belt – Harbinger

I use my weight belt on my top sets of squats and deadlifts, I don’t use it for every set and rep. It just allows me to create more tension in my core area which helps with the actual big lift. They are not necessary, but personally I find it helps reduce risk of hurting my back when I use one.

Workout Diary
I cannot stress the importance of having a proper plan based on progression when you enter the gym. How do you know if you are progressing unless you write things down? It enables you to check back over previous weeks and sessions and track how you are getting on. I just have a regular notebook; each session has a separate page where I will write down the date, time, how I am feeling that day and then the actual lifting session including sets, reps and weights.

I am also extremely OCD and have a different coloured pen to distinguish between upper and lower body days…

Beats by Dre Headphones
I need music in the gym, it helps me zone out and really concentrate on my session. I now make sure I also have my charger with me as too many times i have turned up and they have been out of battery! I love my Beats as they cancel out all noise, I cant hear anything else except my own music playing.

Liquid Chalk – MyProtein
I use this to help my grip on big lifts such as the deadlifts, rows and pullups. I find that by using a little bit of chalk my grip doesn’t give out as quickly as the muscle which I am trying to work. Females especially have less forearm strength, so on exercises like the deadlift, it is their grip which will tire before their legs. By using chalk we can help alleviate this and work the muscle for a bit longer.

Lifting Straps 
This is another bit of kit which I like to use to help with my grip on certain exercises. These are just cheap ones which I have had for years. You wrap them round your wrists and the bar which you are lifting to help with grip.

Ankle Cuff
I have one of these to be able to attach to the cable machine at the gym and perform exercises such as glute kickbacks, abductions and adductions.

Squat Pad 
This wasn’t actually in my bag but I think it would be useful to leave a link to where I purchased mine from in case you are after one. This is essential if you are doing heavy flute bridges and hip thrusts to protect your pelvic area and make it a bit more comfortable. You can also use it if you experience pain from the barbell on your back when you are squatting.

Resistance Bands
I have a simple long resistance band which I will use for warming up and sometimes stretching at the end of sessions.

Headbands 
Like to keep spare headbands in my bag in case I forget them, or if I am doing cardio and want to keep my hair off my face.

Deodorant and Body Spray.
No explanation needed. Don’t be that stinky person in the gym.

Hand Towel
Have one on hand, especially if you know that you tend to sweat a lot when working out, make sure that you clean up after yourself!

Money

Rice Crispie Square
I have some sort of fast acting carbs in my bag just in case I am in need of some extra energy during sessions.

Protein Bar – Grenade Carb Killa
If I am lifting after a morning of clients, then sometimes I will need to just have something on hand to eat and help fuel my sessions. Or if I am not going to be able to get a proper meal in within a certain amount of time these are useful to have. You must be tired of you telling you by now but the Grenade Carb Killa bars are my favourites!!

Hopefully you found this post useful!
Any questions, let me know in the comments down below and I will be happy to help.

Love Abi xxxx

January Blog a Day 27/31

Fulfil Nutrition: White Chocolate and Cookie Dough Protein Bar

It would take some doing to knock Grenade Carb Killas off the top spot, was Fulfil Nutrition up to the challenge?

Fulfil Nutrition White chocolate and cookie dough review

I rarely have protein bars, I only really have them as a back up if I am out all day or travelling; you wont see me eating them at home, I would much rather eat ‘real’ food. However I do always have some stashed away in the cupboard for these times of need. I had tried the Fulfil Nutrition Cookies and Cream bar months ago when we got some delivered at the gym, I wasn’t impressed. But when they announced their new range of flavours, I knew I would have to give them another chance.

Cookie dough annnnd White chocolate?! Sounds like it should be a winning combination right?

Fulfil Nutrition White chocolate and cookie dough review

With similar calories and nutritional information to the Grenade bars, they are just under 200 calories, 21g Protein, 11g Carbs, 7.3g Fat and 7.8g Fibre. But what about the taste?

It was good. Really good.

There is cookie dough, a caramel layer, some crispy bits and then surrounded by white chocolate. It isn’t overly chewy like some protein bars can be, the chocolate is really creamy too.

I judge protein bars on whether I would be willing to purchase a full box of them, this one I definitely would (once my stock of Carb Killas has gone down!)

9/10 from me!

I just need to find the other new flavours to try now! Have you tried any of these bars? Which one is your favourite?

Love Abi xxxx

January Blog a Day 24/31

Rather than do a favourites post for December, I have decided to do a recap over my top 10 favourite things from 2016.

Looking back over each monthly blog which I have done this year, there are some items which I have become essentials, others which have come and gone and some which upon reading reminded me why I loved them so much. There are also a couple on this list which for some reason or other never made it onto a specific blog post!

So here it is, my top 10 2016 favourites. Hope you enjoy.

Rolo mousse – July Favourites

fullsizerender-7
The number of people who have come up to me and said that this has now become there go to dessert after I posted about them back in July is crazy! I have had some in the freezer ever since, and not a week goes by without me having one. Such a good low calorie treat if you are craving something sweet.

PEScience Snickerdoodle Protein Powder – May Favourites

PEScience Snickerdoodle Select Protein
This protein powder is my ultimate favourite flavour. It is from a US company and not widely available over here just yet, however I am informed that 2017 will be a big year for the company! I also use some of their other products, and their quality is so good. Everything tastes amazing. I love this flavour as a simple protein shake or mixed up into a 1carb waffle!

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben – July Favourites

The Happiness Project Gretchen Ruben
I also posted about this book in July. Quite simply I believe that this changed my life. I have it as an audio book and have re-listened to parts over and over again. Everybody should go read this book, anybody who I have recommended it to already also loves it. There are so many take-away points which I have implemented into my daily life and although I wasn’t unhappy before, this has definitely opened my eyes.

Salted caramel Ice Cream – Morrisons The Best Range – November Favourites

Morrison's The Best Salted Caramel Ice cream
Okay, okay, not the best item to have on a fitness bloggers favourite items of the year; however you know me, I had to have some ice cream on here! This ice cream is so creamy and delicious, it is actually dangerous for me to have some in the freezer so keep it as just a treat. I actually think it might rival Ben and Jerrys or Haagen Daaz!

Lululemon

Lululemon Align Pants
The lululemon obsession ramped up this year, with a few new purchases to add to the wardrobe. I just love everything which they do. If I could buy all my clothes from there then I think I would! The leggings are just the absolute best quality and so worth paying that extra bit more for. The align pants and All the right places pants are personal favourites. I also purchased a snuggly hoody from there in Santa Monica, which is a staple in my winter wardrobe!

Coffee

Beanies Coffee
I admit that 2016 was the year I became a caffeine addict. Black with a couple of toffee flavdrops from my protein in is my favourite way to have it in a morning. However I am partial to a ‘cheats mocha’ and ‘a non fat unsweetened iced non sugar caramel latte with coconut milk.’ See my review of one of my favourite brands ‘Beanies’ here. 

Butternut squash noodles
These were a life saver for so many meals this year and I recommend them to all my clients. We all know pasta and spaghetti contain a lot of calories, so when fancy something filling yet low in calories these are my go to source. Love that you can now get them in most supermarkets too.

Adidas Tubular – May Favourites

Adidas Tubular cream Trainers
I actually couldn’t believe when I was writing this post and realised that I only bought two pairs of trainers this year!! (and one pair was for work so technically I don’t think that counts!) I got these in May ready for Bodypower and absolutely love them. They have gone into hibernation for winter though as there is no way I am risking them getting wet and dirty in the cold weather! They are super comfortable and I just think they look ace.

Myprotein Flav Drops – April Favourites

Myprotein Flav drops
I have the toffee, white chocolate and vanilla flavours in my cupboard at all times now. They are a great way of adding flavour to things without the calories. I love them in coffee, yoghurt or even mixed into my waffle mix.

MyProtein link: http://bit.do/ABID
MyProtein Discount Code: ABIPT

Grenade Carb Killa bars – March Favourites

These are reigning champion of all protein bars on the market, and I have tried a lot this year but always come back to these. Caramel chaos and White Chocolate cookie are my favourite flavours but I would happily devour a box of any of them. They feel like you are eating an actual chocolate bar rather than a protein bar. So always have one stashed in my gimbal or my handbag for times in need when I am out and about and hangry!

Hope you enjoyed my rundown of favourite things for 2016. I wonder what next year will bring?

I would like to wish you all a prosperous, healthy and happy 2017.

Thank you for all your ongoing support, I appreciate it more than you know.

Love Abi xxx

This is the second edition of my Christmas Gift idea blog, if you event checked out the first issue  where I give you some clothing inspiration then go do that after reading this one!

These are just some ideas which I think any fitness lover would be happy to receive come Christmas Day!

Hip Circle £21.99 @improveyourbench.co.uk
Black Hip Circle - resistance band
Everybody who is serious about the gym needs one of these. Use it for mobility at the beginning of sessions and it is a must for Glute work in my training.

YOUR Bottle! by SHO £14.99-26.99 @ amazon.co.uk
SHO water bottle for gym
I have just purchased one of these bottles for myself, they keep cold drinks cold for 24hours or hot drinks hot for 12hours. BPA free and have a lifetime guarantee, much better for the environment than repurchasing plastic water bottle every week. Now I think i need two, one for my water and one for my coffee!

Hydratem8 water bottle £13.99
Hydratem8 water bottle
If you struggle to get your daily amount of water in then this would be a great idea, with timely reminders down the side of the bottle to make sure you are getting enough throughout the day!

Beats by Dre Wireless bluetooth headphones in Rose Gold £224.99 argos.co.uk
Rose Gold Studio wireless Beats by Dre
I need these in my life. Music is so important to me when working out, read my article HERE, so the fact that these drown out any type of background noise really helps my workouts. I currently have a black pair but upgrading to these is on my wish list! The fact that they are bluetooth is the major plus as it means no caught wires in machines when you are working out!

Carb Killa Protein Bars £19.35 @ amazon.co.uk
Grenade Carb Killa Bars
These bars are the bomb. I have tried my fair share in recent years but these always come out on top. Caramel Chaos and White Chocolate Cookie are in my opinion the best flavours, however I would take a box of any and eat them all up!

Impact Whey Protein from £12 at my protein.co.uk
Myprotein Impact Whey Protein powder
Myprotein is my go to for supplements. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good quality product. The range of flavours is also amazing, Chocolate Caramel and Stracciatella are staples in my cupboard. My affiliate link is: http://bit.do/ABID

Twinings Tea Gift Set £25

Twinings Green Tea Christmas Gift Set

Perfect for  the tea lover in your life. They also have lots of other gift sets with all kinds of tea. Click this link to take a look!

Clean Eating Alice – Eat Well Everyday £14.99 @amazon.co.uk
Clean eating Alice Eat Well Every Day
Alice is my absolute favourite social media fitness person to follow. I strongly agree with everything she posts in regarding to diet, training and life balance. I am so excited to get her book when it comes out as her food always looks so delicious.

Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics £11.99
Jamie Oliver Super Food Family Classics
I recently got rid of a load of cookery books as I simply didn’t use them as I now tend to just google ideas and recipes; however the only ones that did remain belong to Jamie Oliver! Not a week goes by where I don’t have a flick through for some inspiration or follow one of his recipes. This book goes alongside the recent TV programme where he goes over and ‘healthifies’ family classics. I think it is great that at the bottom of each page all the nutritional information is listed too. I cant wait to try the Squash and Ricotta Ravioli!

Beanies Coffee Stack Box £6
Beanies Coffee - stack box christmas idea

One of my favourite coffee companies out there simply due to the amount of flavours they have! My favourites are Cinder Toffee and Vanilla, but they have also just brought out some special edition Christmas flavours including Mulled wine and Christmas Pudding! The 6 box stack is a great idea as you can pick and mix your flavours of the coffee lover in your life!

I hope this post has given you some ideas on what to buy your loved ones this Christmas! I think they would be very lucky to find any of these things wrapped up under the tree on Christmas morning!

Love Abi xxxx

Supplements are not magic and Supplements are by in no means necessary, they are simply that; a SUPPLEMENT’ to your diet.

They can end up putting a big dent in your pocket when you would be better off putting that money towards something else such as better quality food or even a personal training session. If your diet and training are not in check, then supplements are not going to help you very much, you may as well throw that money down the drain!

However I do take some supplements so it would be hypocritical of me to say otherwise! Here is a rundown of the ones which make up my current stack and why I take them. If you are taking supplement but cant explain why except that your mate said you should; then chances are that you should probably stop and go and do some of your own research!

Myprotein supplements. PEScience Snickerdoodle. High Volume Cotton Candy. Alphamine

I get my products from a variety of sources, the main one being Myprotein. They are affordable, have fast delivery and a huge variety of products. If you decide you would like to make a purchase then I have an affiliate link and discount code for you to use which will save you some money.

LINK: http://bit.do/ABID
DISCOUNT CODE: ABIPT

Whey Protein
I debated whether to pop this one in or not as technically it isn’t really a supplement. However I believe there is still a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the use of protein powder, especially amongst females. (for more information on protein powder see this blog post!)
Protein will not make you bulky!! It is essentially just another form of getting in one of the major macronutrients, you could simply say it is a blended up chicken breast in terms of nutritional value depending on which type you get.
I go for a standard whey protein, you don’t need a diet one or a fancy named one with super powers. I like the Impact Whey from my protein and always have a bag in the cupboard. It is cheap, there are lots of flavours to choose from and i like the taste. My current favourites are Chocolate Caramel and Straccitella. It is rare that I actually have a shake, much preferring to mix into yoghurt or make a microwave mugcake. However if I am travelling or know I will be out all day it is such a handy thing to pop into my bag so that I can hit my targets for the day and not worry about where I am going to get enough protein from!

My absolute favourite flavour is Snickerdoodle by PEScience. It isn’t readily available over here just yet though so can work out at a little bit more expensive. But I will order on occasion as a treat so that I have some in the cupboard, i love using it for protein waffles and pancakes!

My Protein Impact Whey £11+

PEScience Snickerdoodle Protein £29.99 @ www.proteinpickandmix.co.uk

Vitamin D3
The majority of people are deficient in Vitamin D without even realising it. It is the only vitamin which we cannot make ourselves, and instead must rely on direct sunlight or supplementation. Now that it is winter time I make sure to add Vitamin D to my daily intake to ensure that I am getting the RDA. I have noticed an improvement in my mood and general well being from taking it. Research is unclear as to the RDA, “The Office of Dietary Supplements suggest a supplemental intake of between 600 and 800 IU per day, with an upper limit of 4,000 IU. Going by more recent research however, it appears that 1,000 IU per day may actually be the MINIMAL amount needed to see benefit and avoid deficiency, with 2,000 IU being a wiser choice, and 10,000 IU being the upper limit.” (Taken from an article by Mike Samuels on healthylivingheavylifting.com) I personally take 1300IU/day.

Myprotein Vitamin D3 £6.99

Multi- Vitamin
There has been a bit of conflicting research about at the moment discussing whether we actually need to take a multi vitamin or not. If you are getting in a good varied diet with different types (and colours!) of fruits and vegetables then chances are you will probably have all bases covered, but personally even though I have an extremely colourful food intake, until I see more concrete research I will continue to take one just as insurance really.

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Omega 3 Fish Oil
You must have heard numerous times the benefits of including fish and specifically oily fish in your diet. I know I don’t eat enough therefore I will supplement every day, but if you do include plenty of oily fish in your diet then you probably don’t need to supplement. Benefits include Improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of depression, managing arthritis symptoms, amongst others. 3g per day is what the research says you should be aiming for.

Myprotein Omega 3 fish oil £4.99

Vitamin C
I take this in the form of an effervescent tablet (Berocca or I like the raspberry flavoured ones from Aldi!) first thing in the morning when I am taking my other supplements. Once again it is more of an insurance than anything else, as I do take in fresh fruit every day. According to examine.com, an athlete supplementing with Vitamin C, can half their risk of developing a common cold, and I would back that up as (touch wood) I am very rarely poorly! It can also reduce the duration of a cold in majority of populations.

Smartshake Myprotein PEScience

Creatine
I take 5g of creatine every morning. It is the most researched supplement out there, with plenty of evidence to support its consumption. Basically creatine allows you to increase your work capacity, which enables you to train harder and for longer periods.
Taken from a report by Nick Tuminello on creatine:
Specifically, research has shown that creatine offers the following benefits to individuals who supplement with 5g/day:
• Increases fat-free mass
• Improves maximal strength (as measured by 1RM bench press)
• Improve muscular endurance
• Increases anaerobic power and performance
Helps keep you hydrated in extreme outdoor conditions
You simply need creatine monohydrate, and there is no need to overload it, 5g per day is all that you need.

Myprotein Creatine monohydrate £4.19

BCAAs
There is so much conflicting information surrounding the use of BCAAs and whether they are necessary or not. Personally I like to use them if I am training on a morning and I haven’t eaten anything. There is some research out there to suggest that they help stop the process of muscle tissue breakdown whilst promoting muscle protein synthesis. I have to do more reading on this subject before i am willing to say I fully back this claim and recommend people take them during or in between training sessions.

Myprotein Raspberry Lemonade Flavoured BCAAs £13.99

PES Amino IV Cherry Limeade Flavour £28.99

PEScience Alphamine Raspberry Lemonade. Thermogenic powder. Fat loss supplement

Caffeine
I think I have made it known that I love a cup of coffee to get me going in the morning, it perks me up for the day and i am ready to rock and roll. If I am feeling particularly tired or in need of a boost then I will take a pre-workout which contains some form of caffeine. My current favourite is Alphamine by PES, i really like the flavours which they have but also it doesn’t give me the face tingles which a lot of pre workouts do.

PES Alphamine from proteinpickandmix.co.uk

Magnesium
I like taking magnesium if my body is feeling particularly beat up from training, as I find that it helps with recovery but also improved sleep quality. I normally have some in the cupboard.

If you want more information on supplements then my absolute ‘go-to’ research point is examine.com.

Love Abi xxx