Easy Vegan Jambalaya Recipe

This weekend I have been very busy, but I found a super easy meal prep for my lunches this week. Jambalaya! I’ve never made jambalaya before, let alone a vegan version, but I needed something quick and easy, and I had a recipe card from some supermarket and thought I’d see if I could do it. I haven’t followed the recipe completely, I’ve made a cheeky cheat version with similar ingredients, but it came out so good!

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Money Free March… How did I do?

This is almost a week later than planned… Oops!

Many of you have been asking me how Money Free March went. I wanted to write halfway through the month, but a lot has been going on and I feel like I have barely stopped! I didn’t have much time to sit down and calculate my savings, but I can happily say that I saw a significant impact by the end of Money Free March.

There were a lot of obstacles during Money Free March

I will be honest. I tried to be as prepared as possible during Money Free March, but there were so many unexpected obstacles that interrupted my plans. As a blogger, I go to a number of events, but there were many where we were expected to eat, only to find that there were mostly a few nibbles that wouldn’t fill a person.

Too many times did I have to buy food afterward to avoid feeling queasy on the bus home. I was sensible, however, and opted for what was cheaper, though I will admit that didn’t always mean healthy.

My habits dropped dramatically

In the first week of Money Free March, all I wanted to do was spend. I felt the need to keep myself indoors as much as I could at the weekend to avoid nipping to Primark for this that and the other. I also had two moments of weakness where I felt the need to buy a coffee on my way to work and I caved. However, two coffees in a month as opposed to my usual… thousand? Definitely an improvement.

The only times I really left the house was if I had plans with people or if I were going away for the weekend. When Money Free March was over, I had a new mindset on shopping. I can now stop and ask myself if I truly need it, and if not then I can walk away without thinking I’m lost without it.

I’m glad I put money aside for certain activities

I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person who can’t do nothing. Money Free March came with a lot of prearrangements, and I’m so glad they were, or I would have gone insane. I’m also glad that I put a budget together in order to do these activities. Keeping within budget meant that I wouldn’t go overboard, but I could still enjoy myself.

I don’t think that saving money means you should stay in all the time until you have reached your goal. I also spent days at my friend’s house, sharing a bottle of wine and simply relaxing. I didn’t get as crafty as I had planned, but that’s due to having a busier schedule than expected.

Money Free March certainly paid off

As mentioned, I didn’t get time to calculate as I went on, but I can happily say that there wasn’t a day where I felt worried about how much was in my bank and the only times I checked my balance was to see if any necessary payments had gone through.

By the end of the Money Free March, I had enough saved to finally purchase a new laptop, something I have been needing for two years. I even have some left over, but I have moved it into a savings account for a rainy day.

So, what did I learn by the end of Money Free March?

Saving money is hard, but it’s certainly not impossible. The biggest thing you need to change is your view on what you really need to buy. I also think that to constantly remind yourself of what your savings can or will go towards, then you’re more likely to stick to the plan.

What advice would I give for saving money?

So here’s a breakdown of things to consider

  • Think of what you have planned for the month – put a budget together
  • Avoid hitting the shops at all costs, and uninstall any shopping apps on your phone
  • Have an emergency cash stash for any unexpected bills – you never know what could happen
  • Make time for meal prep – don’t forget to include snacks for potential emergencies

I would love to know if you tried Money Free March, or perhaps you’re going to try Money Free May instead?

LaceyFitspo xx

 

Reasons to Love Zumba!

I dedicate this blog post to everyone who started off their fitness year strong before coming to a crashing halt. You hit the gym hard, drank every smoothie you found on Pinterest, “cleansed” your body from all the naughty snacks you devoured at Christmas and New Year… Then nothing.

Hey, you’re only human! In most cases, it’s not actually because you simple HATE exercise, it normally comes down to what you personally enjoy. You need something to get you pumped up, something that you’re more likely to do consistently because it’s just that fun. You need something that doesn’t make you feel rubbish when you find yourself struggling to keep up. Maybe try Zumba?

If you guys follow me on Twitter, you know how much I love Zumba. That wonderful, dance-tastic fitness craze that came into our world in the early noughties which blasts out tracks by Pitbull, Shakira and much more. Though I know many people who are mad about the latest Kim K butt blaster, I’m more about leaving the studio with legs like jelly and a smile on my face than wondering whether my body is looking amazing yet (not saying I never have those moments, as I said, we’re only human).

You can never do Zumba wrong

As a previous instructor of mine used to say, “if you can’t keep up, just shake it ’til you make it!” The moves aren’t too complicated, but you’re always going to have moments where you slip up and fall out of time with the steps, but you just laugh it off!

No one is judging you

One of my biggest issues with the gym is feeling like I shouldn’t be there. It’s never been enough to stop me, but I guarantee you won’t feel that way at Zumba. Join in on all the “Wooo’s” and “Hey! Hey! Hey’s!” You’ll realise that there is no room for being “too cool” and that going with the flow is what it’s all about.

Zumba doesn’t feel like a workout

I mean, physically it does. You’re obviously aware that your body is being pushed, but it’s so bouncy and exciting that you simply don’t care! You can burn between 400 and 700 calories in one class, but you honestly wouldn’t think so. It just feels like one big party!

The People are Amazing

The best thing about going to Zumba is that everyone is different. We all come in a wonderful rainbow of shapes, sizes, personalities, and we support each other with “woop’s” partner moves and catwalk poses.

There is a Zumba class for everyone

No Zumba classes are ever the same. Some I have loved, others not so much. If you find that you try one class and think it’s not for you, it could actually just come down to that particular class. For me, I need a bit of a challenge, so if a class is too easy then I need to find somewhere else. However, if I also need an instructor who is engaging. Try a few places out before you settle on one class.

It’s more than your average cardio

Yes, you’ll be out of breath and reaching for your water bottle between each song, but it’s much more than a basic cardio class. You will be toning your body as you squat, kick, booty-shake for an hour, loving every single minute of it.
Zumba is something I have been in love with since I was seventeen, and now I’m so excited to say that this Summer I will be doing my Zumba instructor training! I’m so over the moon about this new adventure and I will hopefully be instructing classes in a few places around Manchester, and hope some of you will join my classes!

LaceyFitspo xx

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

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?