Money Free March… and Another Day with GiffGaff Game plan

I didn’t think I would be writing another blog post about GiffGaff, but I’m really glad to be doing so. Last weekend I joined them at the Principle in Manchester for a day of all things frugal, followed by an in depth break down of their new Game plan service. Though I learned a fair bit from them before, this taught me more about my own finances and improving my credit score. I decided that it would be a good idea to use this information and take on the challenge of Money Free March, but I will go into more detail on that later.

The day was filled with activities based around being thrifty, from a cooking workshop to finger knitting, it put so many ideas in my head of ways I could be saving money. I already have a natural knack for cooking, but I have so much inspiration for getting crafty this month in order to leave more money in my pocket!

I really did enjoy the finger knitting. We all made what was either worn as headbands or necklaces, and of course I opted for pink. It gave me a great idea for my old bath towels that are falling apart, so I’m gonna have a fair few days of crafting planned.

So I went away from the event with a bit of a plan in place. I wanted to see if I could spend as little as possible throughout March. I first of all decided to sign up with GiffGaff Game Plan to check my credit score, which is apparently not doing to great. Money Free March is going to be my starting point to get some money put aside before I start building up my credit history. I also figured that by doing this in March and giving you guys feedback throughout, it will help any of you who are considering doing this yourselves, perhaps a Money Free May.

The Challenge

If I want to do Money Free March properly, I need to establish some rules. Though I have had a fair bit of experience with surviving days with next to no money, I don’t want to make my month so difficult I can’t enjoy myself. So here’s what I’m working with.

Prior Commitments

The first thing to address is that before I decided to start Monday Free March, I agreed to do a few things this month that involved spending, so I have purposely put a budget aside for those things in February so it doesn’t affect my plan. I’m still going to spend less than I originally wanted, but at least I won’t have to cancel.

Keep it healthy

My blog is based on healthy living, so it wouldn’t be right to buy any food simply because it’s cheap. If anything, this challenge should encourage me to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nights in and Free Days Out

As mentioned, I want to get crafty for Money Free March, so instead of going out for dinner or drinks, I’ll be hosting a few nights in. A lot of this will revolve around crafting and cooking, but I will also host a few movie nights as well. On top of this, I have compiled a list of free days out so Larry and I can go on dates, or I can simply head out with friends.

Exercise

The one thing I will still be paying for is Zumba, because after all, it’s only £1 a week. I’m going to hold off on paying for pole classes, but I’ll continue to train with my friends for free. I will also be trying out YouTube channels and break down my favourites for you guys to try.

Freezer Food

So I’ll be cooking in bulk, but I already have food that I have stored in the freezer. Though I could have made a plan to eat everything before starting this challenge, I realised that’s a lot of food to get through. Instead I’ll take note of freezer food days.

Limit the Food Shop

Finally, the way I shop will be different. I am refusing to buy any more food until the kitchen is pretty much empty. I have more than enough for a few weeks, but it always seems difficult to put something together when you’re getting towards the end. I’m just gonna have to take that challenge if I want to save as much as I can.

Keep a diary

Hallways through Money Free March, I will be posting an update on how I have done with keeping my spends to an absolute minimum, and what I’ve been getting up to to keep myself away from any financial temptation.

I hope you’re all excited to see how well I do. If you’re trying Money Free March as well, let me know how you get on!

LaceyFitspo xx

Getting Financially Fit with GiffGaff Gameplan

There are three key points in my blog tagline; happy, healthy and kinda broke. It’s not just something I say to look quirky and interesting. This blog focuses on living a happy and healthier lifestyle without breaking the bank, so when GiffGaff invited me to to Leeds to take part in their MoneyFit Challenge, there was no way I was going to say no!

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The aim of the event was to encourage young adults to start using a healthy approach to their finances. GiffGaff are launching a new money service to help you get on the right track with your spending, keep an eye on your credit score and bills all in one place. Everything you need to monitor will be there on your phone, broken down and easy to understand. I have spent the past five years struggling to gain control over my financial situation. It wobbles up and down throughout the year, but after talking with some of the GiffGaff team, I felt like this is a great way to keep everything together so I don’t lose track of where I am with my payments and savings.

The Event

So, as the service is to help you get financially fit, it wouldn’t be right to have fitness related activities in celebration. Myself and many other northern bloggers met with the company at FireHouse Fitness where we took part in some fun, motivating, and body pushing activities!

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Fresh berries on ice.

My team were first up in the exercise round. The aim was to run on a treadmill for twenty minutes straight, while burning as many calories as we could. The more we burned, the more money we would earn (up to 200kcal). The highest amount of money we could take home was £40. I burned 168kcal, putting me in third behind two other bloggers, and giving me a total of £33.

Believe it or not, I was the only one who cooled down afterwards. The girls told me how much they regretted it the next day!

After that we moved onto smoothies! The team was split in half, pink or green. Well, you’d think I would be on the pink team, but everyone wanted that, so I offered myself to the green team and made a spinach based energy booster, with apples, cucumber, lemon and a little bit of carrot. It was surprisingly nice!

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Our smoothie gurus showing us what they’re made of

Finally we talked to the GiffGaff team about their new service. One of the girls on my team was actually already with GiffGaff, and gave us a personal perspective of the service. It’s now something I am looking into for my own financial situation, and I encourage you to do the same if you’re in the same money boat as me.

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The GiffGaff team were so friendly and informative!

Final Thoughts

Though money isn’t the most important thing in the world, it’s a good idea to do what you can to keep yourself stable and in control financially. with GiffGaff, you have everything in one place, reducing financial stress, and giving you more freedom to focus on other things in life that are important to you!

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Collecting my earnings at the end of the event!

I had an amazing day, met wonderful people and I would like to thank GiffGaff and Firehouse Fitness for such a wonderful opportunity.

LaceyFitspo xx

Sweet potato burgers

This is actually a recipe which I ended up changing almost completely from Simply Nigella. Hers was a butternut squash and halloumi burger, but I don’t really like butternut squash. Anyway, this is my own spin!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, depending on size and mouths to feed
  • Sainsbury’s Greek style vegan cheese
  • wholemeal pitta bread
  • light mayo
  • pesto
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • salt & pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200*C and wash the sweet potato(es)
  • Cut the potato into slices about 1.5cm each, then lay on a baking tray
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper (optional)
  • Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes
  • Mix a dollop of light mayo with a teaspoon of pesto to make a sauce.
  • Cut the pitta in half, then slice open through the middle
  • Spread the sauce and add spinach and chopped tomatoes
  • Remove sweet potato from oven and add one slice per half pitta
  • Crumble cheese on top
  • close the pitta and enjoy!

Winter warmer… Guksu!

Guksu can be made in many different ways, but as I only work with basic ingredients, this is more of an inspiration than a proper guksu recipe. Non the less, it’s a perfect winter warmer and is super easy to make!

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 2 packs vegan noodles
  • ½ small bowl mixed frozen veg
  • ½ small bowl chopped mushrooms (can buy frozen too)
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp korean seasoning (can buy from Aldi or make own)
  • 2 sheets of nori
  • sriracha/chilli sauce (optional)

Method

Heat the noodles in a pan with hot water. Whilst doing so, slowly heat a large pan with water and add the Korean seasoning, and the noodle flavour packets. Then add the spring onions, frozen veg and mushrooms. Keep stirring every now and then to allow the flavours to mix.

When the noodles are ready, strain the water and add noodles to broth. For the rest of the nori, crush and serve a spoonful with each portion. Add sriracha/chilli sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

LaceyFitspo xx

Easy vegan breakfast bars

I am too lazy for breakfast in the morning and I know I’m not the only one. it’s so easy to forget to eat, but it’s the most important meal of the day! So I decided to throw together this super easy breakfast bar recipe which is not only vegan and healthy, but it’s absolutely delicious!

I know you can find recipes like this anywhere. In fact, chances are you don’t need a recipe to come up with something like this, but I thought it would be fun to write up what I did to make sure I get a healthy start to the day. This is a no bake recipe, only takes around 10 minutes to make and you get enough portions to grab throughout the week.

I don’t know about you guys, but I only ever get the urge to cook in the afternoon or late evening, so this was a good opportunity to prep it while I could be bothered and I know I won’t have to think about making it again for at least another week. I did end up making twice the amount I needed, but that’s because I was halfway through the first batch when I figured out ways to improve it. So off I went to grab a couple more ingredients, and here’s the final outcome.

What I love about these is that they’re perfect for chocaholics, but the chocolate is so well mixed in that you get enough of the taste without consuming more than you should, and the dried cranberries surprise you with a mouth watering, fruity burst. I found that adding banana reduced the crunch factor, which, if you’re anything like me, you will find is perfect for a morning bite. So, let’s get on with the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 150g special flakes/bran flakes/corn flakes/whatever
  • 75g desiccated coconut
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 ripe banana

Let’s do this!

The first thing you need is your breakfast flakes. I went for special flakes, but anything that’s healthy will do. Pour them into a bowl and use something to crush them into smaller pieces. If you have a pestle and mortar then use that. I don’t. I used a bottle of one kcal spray… A water bottle might work too actually.

Once you have crushed them to a small enough size, you can add the coconut and cranberries and mix together. Then mash the banana until it’s as smooth as can be and mix into the bowl.

Then it’s time to melt the chocolate. Break into small pieces (unless you have used chocolate chips) and throw it into a mixing bowl. The quickest way to melt them is to obviously microwave them. If you’re worried about the chocolate burning, make sure you leave a gap in the middle as that’s the hottest point. Microwave for about a minute, remove from the microwave and stir. Any lumps should melt as you stir it.

Once this is done you can mix the dry ingredients into the chocolate. Make sure you mix it to get an even coverage. Once you have your mix ready, it’s time to place into moulds. Though you can use cupcake cases, you will get smaller portions and will be wasting paper, so I suggest a silicone mould. Mine is heart shaped, but you can use a deep muffin tray or even a bar shaped mould if you can find one. Leave in the fridge to solidify.

And there you have it, chocolatey goodness at breakfast time with no guilt! Let me know how yours turn out… Maybe you switched yours up?

Stretch and Flex with Pink Sorbet

This post features a gifted item.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE a good stretch. I can sit in my living room for an hour, pulling my body about until I’m as loose as spaghetti! But as it’s cold out, I find it much harder to get a good flexi session as my body doesn’t want to move as much. How do I work around it? Layers of course! So when I was sent these beautiful work out jumpers from Pink Sorbet, I thought, why not write something about flexibility training, while talking about these adorable designs?

There are so many reasons to stretch on a regular basis, and you are likely to get better results when your body is kept warm, so these jumpers are perfect for keeping in the body heat, while looking awesome at the same time..

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I really love the simplicity of the designs. I don’t know about you, but I find that sometimes you don’t need too much to make something look good. This jumper basically has “me” written all over it!

Flexibility – The most obvious point. I used to stretch for ten minutes a day using this Blogilates video, and sometimes I still use it. I ended up getting my splits from just 10-15 minutes of stretching each morning.

It wakes you up AND sends you to sleep – Wait, how can it do both? When you wake up in the morning, your body is stiff from the positions you’ve been in all night, so by stretching you are breaking yourself out of that achy feeling you get when you don’t wish to get up. As for going to sleep? You are likely to drift off quicker if you are to stretch out first as your muscles become more relaxed, meaning you won’t be tossing and turning as much.

It encourages good posture – If you’re a blogger or you work in an office, you’ll definitely benefit from this. Stretching every day can lengthen tight muscles and by stretching the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine aligned the way it should be and reduce any aches you get from sitting at a desk all day.

It relieves fatigue – I can’t elaborate more on this really. The more you stretch, the less fatigue you have and the more energy you feel!

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Something worth noting is the inside of this jumper, it really does hug you! It’s super soft and makes you feel extra comfortable while stretching out.

A few other benefits?

  • Better blood circulation
  • reduces cholesterol
  • lower risk of injury
  • better athleticism

Thanks ever so much to Pink Sorbet for sending me these wonderful jumpers to keep me warm when working on my flexibility. Their designs are minimal yet cute and there’s a design for everyone. I’m loving the rose gold star, it’s sooooo me! And the lightning bolt? Anyone else getting Harry Potter vibes?

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Which design is your favourite? Check out more of their items

Realistic Resolutions: Feel Good 2018

Honesty Hour: How many of you say every year that you’re going to get fit and healthy, only to look back at the end and find you’ve DEFINITELY not stuck to that plan?

It’s okay, it’s completely human and to be expected, but I don’t see why it should be routine each year. This doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t strive for a healthier year, but I think its’s time to focus less on the weight and inches, and more on getting our spring back and feeling fab. So here’s my resolutions for the year ahead:

Have a 3:2 method

One of the reasons I would often find my regime falling off the wagon was because I would go through the motions of working out all week for about two weeks or so… and then I would give up for a month and eat even more crap. So my new plan is to do two days of extra effort exercise (for me that is zumba and pole) and then have three days of short, gentle workouts such as lightly jogging or Wii Fit.

Find more adventures

Over Christmas I have been driving around with Larry and we have passed some beautiful areas in the UK that I really want to explore, and there’s so many activities I keep seeing online that I want to take part in… So why am I not doing it!? I want to go hiking, trampolining, dancing… anything!

Prep more food

I know, I know… I love my food prep. However, with the schedule I have, I often forget and end up too tired to make anything when I get in from work (six days a week is enough to exhaust a gal). So I’ll be writing up a prep plan, which I will be sharing with you guys, and my fridge/freezer will be packed with all my favourite healthy meals!

Listen to my body more

Another problem I have come across when trying to stay fit was learning to rest and relax. I work so much, but my one day off a week is normally spent catching up on everything I haven’t done at home during the week. I’m planning on spending an hour an evening on my blogs so that my day off can be completely dedicated to myself! I’ve also booked more holidays from work so I can get a good few weeks off until the end of the work year.

Stop beating myself up over my indulgences

It’s not worth it. The chocolate was eaten. Move on and do better the next day.

I don’t want to look back on 2018 and think that I didn’t stick to anything that I knew would be good for me. I don’t want to set resolutions that feel unattainable and eventually become nothing. I want a year where I don’t worry about my weight, my body shape or anything like that.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018! What are your resolutions for the year?

Has Winter demotivated me?

If there’s anything I often reiterate on my blog, it’s that everything I write comes from my own personal journey. This means I want to be honest when I find that life isn’t going as planned.

It has gotten increasingly cold in the past month or so, and now I’m working two jobs, I find it increasingly harder to get out and about doing whatever I need. I noticed I’ve only been going to the gym for zumba, as there’s no classes I enjoy anymore, and it’s too busy to use free weights when I have the time to go, so I cancelled my membership. I’ll still be doing Zumba, but at a local community centre that’s only £1. I’m trying to pole twice a week, but that seems to have been a struggle over the past couple of weeks.

Though I know I’m working twice as much, and only have one day off a week, I can’t help but question whether it’s the cold season that’s having the biggest impact on my lack of efforts. As I’m writing this, it is 4pm, I’m still in my pyjamas and I’m wrapped in a duvet on the sofa. I just don’t want to move! So it’s time to make some changes.

As mentioned, I aim to do Zumba each week, and I’m trying my hardest to keep up with the pole as much as I can, but I need to also get a grip on my routine, my writing and even my diet.

I feel like my diet isn’t too bad, but I have been eating out after work a lot as the idea of cooking frozen food when I’m already frozen myself is something I try to avoid, and if I do eat at home, it’s usually snacks. I need to stop this! So I’m filling my cupboards with soups, microwave rice and any other healthier foods I can which don’t involve reaching into the freezer.

I will keep you guys updated, and hopefully my writing will motivate me to make more effort… Especially fitmas!!!

Pamper Yourself with Anatomicals

This is a gifted item review

You all know I love my face masks, so when I received two, plus a face scrub, from Anatomicals, I was beyond excited. I have been under the weather all week, so the gym has been a no-go, so this gave me something to look forward to after work!

The first thing I should say about Anatomicals is that they are soooooo sassy! The play on words, alongside a funny description at the back, are more than enough to grab your attention. I also think that it makes for a funny stocking filler at Christmas. The brand are cruelty free, though you all know I wouldn’t be writing about them if they weren’t!

Let’s get onto the review!

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First off, we have the apricot scrub. Now I need to be honest here, I wasn’t completely sure about it the first time I tried it. Due to being ill, my skin has been super sensitive, so the “beads” felt really rough on my skin. The second time I used it, however, It felt so nice! I think if your skin is super sensitive, then I would avoid this product, but if it’s sensitive to normal, then you will be fine. My skin was left feeling super soft and clean after I rinsed it all off.

Secondly, we have the charcoal face mask. I actually thought that this would be black, but I realised I was confusing it with those super painful ones that have become a viral sensation this year. This was a regular mask in a light, greyish/blue colour. The mask is intended to clear your skin of breakouts (something I know I could do with). I actually had two really bad pimples before I applied it, and they’re both almost invisible now, so it seems to have helped! The mask was really easy to apply due to it being similar to a clay texture, and rinsing it off was just as simple.

Finally we have the mattifying face mask. I think out of the three, this was my favourite. Although I found it slightly harder to apply, due to it being of a thinner texture, it was so cooling on my skin! When I tested out this product, my nose had reached its reddest point of my cold. As soon as I applied it, my skin was hit with a wave of refreshement. I let it dry and as soon as I rinsed it off my skin felt amazing! I was in awe at how quickly the mask affected my skin. It’s been a full day since and my face is still super smooth. The colour was a lovely aquatic blue, matching the affect of the mask perfectly.

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The products from Anatomicals start from £1.50 up, and like I said, they would make perfect stocking fillers this year, and the bigger products would be great pamper gifts. You can buy their products from Superdrug, ASOS, Urban Outfitters, or you can find more directly from the website.

If you want to be the first to see my reviews, be sure to follow me on Instagram to watch me test them on my stories!

Redefining Fitspo

This has been re-uploaded from LaceyFitspo Tumblr back in March 2017.

I have always considered myself to be a “fitspo” blog, but a while back I found myself falling out of love with the word as I noticed there were a few people who considered it to be the new skinny. so I thought I would remind myself and others how the perception of fitness has changed over the past couple of years.

When I first started this blog, I wasn’t truly aware of what it meant to be healthy. I’m no expert on fitness and nutrition, but to constantly wear myself out at the gym and worry about whether I am eating right or not is not good. As many of you may already be aware, I have been trying to move away from this focus, and to instead balance a healthy lifestyle with a happy one.

A lot of online platforms are changing the game when it comes to health and fitness. PopSugar are a very encouraging website if you’re looking for health guidance, with not only mouth watering recipes that are good for you, but there’s also body positive articles which bring you down to earth and remind you that you don’t need to have the body of Miranda Kerr for your body to be beautiful. That’s something we need to see more of.

Even Cosmo are jumping on the bandwagon, and they don’t just cover exercise and body talk, they actually cover medical stories too, which some people could feel motivated by reading. I may be slightly biased, however, as the header image on the website is a girl in a sports bra eating a huge slice of pizza…

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I will admit that I don’t get the same encouragement from magazines. I have never been a big magazine reader, but now and then I give them a chance and I will feel like I have wasted my money. Why? Because I buy it based on what’s on the cover, hoping to find some handy guides, but it is mostly just advertising. I know that many magazines make their money through promoting products, but there is often so much jammed into the articles that it’s basically saying “you will never be worthy unless you waste your money on these.” So to round that bit up… Don’t turn to a magazine if you want health and fitness advice.

Social media? I will be honest here, if you want the right advice or inspiration then you need to look in the right places. I have followed various accounts on Instagram only to unfollow them later because their views aren’t as healthy as I originally thought. I stand by Blogilates religiously, but I will also recommend Grace Fit (especially for booty inspiration… not that it should be a specific goal, but it may convince you to not skip leg day). But also remember to follow smaller accounts to create social encouragement and interact with one another.

So this is my take on the great things, and a slight view on the bad things, about being fitspo! What do you do to keep yourself motivated?