Divas’ Love: ALDI

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I used to always shop in Sainsbury’s but I’ve recently moved to Oxfordshire and unfortunately in the part I have moved to, Tesco seems to have a monopoly. I literally can’t go into that shop without having a nervous breakdown because they don’t have something I need/want.

We have an ALDI just down the road from us and I’d heard before that it’s a great little supermarket, but I’d never ventured into one (mainly as I felt my street cred would plummet). Over the Christmas break though I thought ‘What the hell, I’ll just pop in a see what it’s like’.

I don’t really buy ready made food (partly because I’m a bit of a control freak and like to know what’s in the food I’m eating), but I do buy healthy snacks to get me through the day, and here are some of my favourites that ALDI have to offer:

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Fruit slices: ALDI’s take on Go ahead slices, but a fraction of the price and also I think they taste nicer and are lower calorie.

Golden bakes: Again, these are similar to Go Ahead bars, but I prefer the flavours (blueberry in particular)

Rice cakes

Crisp breads

They also do a great range of face creams and some basic makeup (such as concealer similar to touché éclat), including this lovely Shimmering face cream, which smells of apricots and at £1.99 is an absolute bargain.

aldi cream

I used to spend at least £120/week on a small trolley of food in the larger supermarkets, but now I rarely spend over £60. With the money I save I could squeeze in another trip or perhaps treat myself to a nice bag. 🙂

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Divas’ Love: Workplay Goddess II Bag

The lovely people at Workplay gave me one of their Goddess II bags to test out. I’m ashamed to say it’s taken a long while to post this because of a change in personal circumstances, but finally here is my take on this fabulous bag.

About the bag

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The Goddess II is both stylish and tailored.  This elegant women’s fitness and travel bag is even smart enough to take to the office.  With space for all your kit, it includes a generous sized wash bag, removable laundry bag, a shoe compartment with separate trainer bag – and even an expandable wet compartment!

Key features

  • 35 litre capacity
  • Generous sized twin compartment wash bag, with removable mirror and compartments inside that fits perfectly in a side pocket of the bag
  • Separate shoe bag and laundry bag so you can keep the main bag fresh
  • Expandable wet compartment
  • Water bottle pocket on the side
  • Packing ‘prompt list’ printed inside of lid
  • Compatible with many major airlines carry on luggage allowance

The verdict

My trusty Goddess II

My trusty Goddess II

A lot of sofa surfing and some weekends away have meant that this lovely bag has been on many, many travels with me over the past few months and has had a thorough testing. One of the main things that struck me was the quality of the bag. The fabric is firm, but soft enough for you to squeeze into a gym locker or plane overhead compartment. Some of the features inside are genius too. I love the little bag for your cosmetics with the detectable mirror. That has been a god send for me as I’ve done a lot of sofa surfing lately and have needed somewhere to put my makeup and toiletries. One of the other things I love about this is just how easy it is to carry around (another thing that has been well tested over the last few months). Even loaded up, it’s been easy to carry whilst wandering about and getting on the train.

The bag retails at £79.99 and can be purchased here.

Overall, I give this great all-round gym/travel bag a 4/5. The loss of 1 point is simply that I wish that they had a combat print version of this. 😉

Diva rating: 4/5

rating 4 of 5

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Divas’ love: Slimming World

For years I tried lots of diets – cabbage soup, Atkins – you name it! They all had the same problem – they were ‘diets’ and the very nature of that word with me means they were doomed to fail from the outset. You see, if I have to count things, weigh things, and completely cut something out then it’s not going to work for me. We all have weeks where someone brings chocolate brownies into the office, or where you have to go out for dinner, and these faddy diets make it difficult to live a normal life without irritating all your friends and family and ensuring you are well and truly crossed off future invites!

Tim’s mum had joined Slimming World a few years before and had lost a huge amount of weight. I was a bit worried that it might be a bit evangelical and like the ‘Fat Fighters‘ sketch in Little Britain so it took a while for me to finally give it a go. I’d gone through a really bad patch by then and just wanted to lose weight and get fit.

I looked on the website, found my local group and went along. They were really friendly, it didn’t take long for me to sign up and then I sat in on the group listening to all the other stories.

Slimming world is essentially a low fat/low processed sugar diet. The emphasis is on getting more vegetables, fruit, low GI carbohydrates (brown rice, pasta, noodles) and really  to monitor the amount of dairy you eat and high-calorie foods such as bread and cereals. I chose the extra easy plan as it’s the same plan every day (personally – I think the red and green days is confusing). I also love the fact that there is no real counting involved if you make everything yourself and have an understanding of what foods you can eat as much as you want of (most vegetables, pasta, rice and noodles, meat and most fruits, beans and pulses). I chose not to eat many processed foods as as soon as you do you then have to start counting the points (or syns as they are called, for which you can have 15 a day) and I’m too lazy.

I found it really easy to stick to and lost 3 Ibs in my first week. I then went on to lose over 2 stone from October to January and I have maintained that weight loss.

I actually don’t stick religiously to the plan, but I do always take the principles with me and try to apply them.

So, here are the things that I love about Slimming World and are why I would recommend it to anyone who needs to lose weight:

1) Easy to join and good value for money – if you are overweight you can also get it for free on the NHS (in the UK) so speak to your doctor

2) If you go to the groups, it keeps you motivated and you get some great ideas for recipes

3) For me, it was easy to follow as it was pretty much the same as my existing diet, but I just made some small changes:

– Max 2 slices of brown bread a day OR 2 Weetabix/day OR a bowl of porridge – before I could easily get through half a loaf of bread (2 slices of toast a ‘healthy’ sandwich, and maybe garlic bread with dinner!) and a big bowl of muesli.

– Cheese – I cut this out completely and sometimes treat myself to it (I used to live for cheese, but I no longer miss it). I used to put cheese on everything, and just removing it made a huge difference. I get all my calcium from milk and yoghurts.

– Eating to excess – now if I want some chocolate I have it, but I just have a bit not the whole thing

– Adding more vegetables into existing meals, e.g., spaghetti bolognaise – I now add a pepper, fresh tomato, carrots and mushrooms

– Eating 2 apples a day

– Eating muller light yoghurts for dessert with fruit rather than ice cream

– Cut down on oil and use spray oil

– Season salads instead of using dressing

4) The whole family can eat it, even children, as it’s just a healthy balanced diet – Tim is unwittingly on Slimming World and even he agrees we’re not missing out.

5) There are lots of recipes, but once you know what foods are ‘free’ (i.e., you can eat as much as you want of them), it’s super easy to make up your own recipes.

6) No counting or weighing involved (unless you eat a lot of processed food or eat loose cereal – I am lazy and eat 2x Weetabix or porridge sachets!).

7) If you have a bad day it’s ok as you can just make sure you have good days for the remainder of the week.

8) It clearly works as Tim’s parents, my mum and my sister and I have all lost weight. In my experience, if it doesn’t work then it’s usually where the person hasn’t followed the plan correctly.

So if you want to lose weight, have a go at Slimming World and see how you get on. I’ll be posting up some of my slimming world recipes soon (everything I make is super easy and takes less than 15 mins as I am laziness personified when it comes to cooking!). Let me know if you have any questions or need any tips on the plan. Happy to help. x

Review: Workplay bags Fleetfoot II running bag

I was really excited when Workplay bags asked me to review their Fleetfoot II women’s running bag. I actually use these bags myself (see earlier post on what I carry with me on a long run here), especially for longer runs where you need more supplies. I am also a sucker for helping out small start up companies so was happy to provide my honest review.

Before I had a go myself, I watched the video on their site as I wanted to make full use of all the features and one thing that really struck me is just how well designed and well thought out this bag is. It looks much smaller than my existing waist band, but there are some really clever pockets and features of this bag that are not obvious to the eye. My absolute running essentials are water, keys, money/card, phone, and iPod.

They have rather brilliantly thought of all of this and have created specific pockets within the bag to accommodate these. For example, there us a padded internal ‘ninja’ pocket, which is specifically designed for keys and coins to minimise jangling whilst running, and there is also a nifty bungy system for you to hook through your jacket.

When you put the bag on and adjust the strap, it sits comfortably into your lower back and I had a go at running and it doesn’t seem to bounce around much at all, which is good as there is nothing more annoying than things banging against you when you’re running. For the Brighton half marathon, I stupidly put my iPhone in my pocket and about 1 minute in it was already irritating the hell out of me! If I were to add anything else, and I am being picky now, perhaps I would add in a couple of pockets on the side for gels, but otherwise I think this bag has been really well conceived and well put together.

I am impressed and I will certainly be buying some other bags from them in the future.

Check out their website and watch the video for yourself for more on this and other bags that they make.

Diva rating: 5/5

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This is a review and for full disclosure, we received the bag to try out for free. The views expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Divas’ Love: Fitbit

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Tim bought me my FitBit for my birthday (February) knowing what a health and fitness obsessive I am!

So, what is a FitBit?

Just in case you are wondering, it’s a tiny sensor that measures how far you walk, how many steps you take, how many calories you’ve burned, how many floors you’ve climbed, and how much you’ve slept over 24 hours. I love a good gadget and find it really interesting to find out how far I’ve waked, but of course the other added bonus is that it makes you think about taking the stairs and motivates you to walk over and see your colleagues instead of emailing them.

How does it work?

It’s a tiny sensor that ladies can clip onto their bra (men on their belt) and away you go. It uses clever algorithms to measure movement. All you do is download the programme, register on the site, plug in your FitBit and the data collected are automatically downloaded onto your user profile.

What’s so good about it?

For someone like me who’s always on the go, I love that I can see how much free exercise I’m getting in addition to the gym and running. I also love that it tells me how many hours I’ve slept and how frequently I woke up (one of my favourite features). There’s also a forum where you can share exercising and fitness tips with other FitBit users. I just think it’s a great little gadget and good value for money compared with lots of other fitness gadgets!

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Would I recommend it? Hell yeah!

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