Category Archives: goals

How to stay healthy at Uni

Hey everyone!

As most of you will know, I started uni 2 years ago (at Surrey studying Nutrition) and am now on my placement year.  I often get asked how I managed to keep up with my healthy habits and lifestyle when starting uni and I know that this is such a worry to some people, as it was for me in my first year!  I shared a few tips in my blog post about how to find a lifestyle balance in a previous blog post, but I thought I would share some more advice on how to stay healthy when you first go to uni, especially on a student budget!

1. Frozen over Fresh

When it comes to food, it’s so easy for people to use the price of food as an excuse not to eat well, but my number one way to solve this problem is to buy frozen fruit and veg over fresh.  You can pretty much buy anything frozen now, from broccoli and blueberries, to asparagus and avocados!  It’s so much more cost-effective, lasts longer and actually takes a lot less time to cook than fresh!  There are only things a few things that I do buy fresh including courgettes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples, but even most of these you can get frozen now!  So get chilly and get in that freezer section!

2. Bin the big brands

If there’s one thing that can save you literally hundreds of pounds on it’s choosing supermarket’s own branded things instead of the big brands.  Things like tinned tomatoes, beans, oats, pasta, rice and so much more are all the same whether it’s got a Tesco’s everyday value label or is in fancy big-name packaging.  There’s no need to splurge on expensive brands – it pretty much all tastes exactly the same, with very similar nutritional value and is probably all made in the same factory! So save yourself some beans for more important things!

3. Make sensible food choices

This may seem really obvious, but if you’re moving away from home for the first time where your parents have always done the food shop, you are now in the situation where the supermarket is your oyster and you are pretty much free to buy whatever you want!  This can be completely overwhelming, and you may feel the urge to go crazy and buy foods that your parents never would.  But try and choose the best foods that are going to fuel you well and make you feel good.  Don’t go crazy and buy the entire shop; prioritise the essentials first and then keep the more optional foods for times when you have a little more money to spend!  I’m not saying you can never buy your favourite foods, but don’t necessarily make them a daily addition to your trolley!

4. Meal Prep

Now a lot of people will probably be used to this concept, and it is such a good way be prepared with food for the week, saving time as well as money.  Personally, I found it quite difficult to prep full meals last year due to the limited fridge/freezer space that comes with sharing a kitchen with 12 people!  You will also probably find that you will have this problem.  So, I did however, prep things like my breakfast for the next morning, or chicken breasts and mince meat or batches of chilli which I could cook in bulk and then either keep for the next few days or pop in the freezer to later defrost.  Cooking my frozen veg to go with it literally takes 5 minutes, so you can have a healthy lunch/dinner with ease, freeing up more time in the day!

4. Exercise Regularly

It can be easy to neglect exercise when you first go to uni as there is so much going on with moving in, making new friends, starting a new course and just generally getting used to your new lifestyle.  Don’t stress out about taking time out from the gym to settle in, but once you feel ready, find your nearest/most accessible/cheapest gym, get a membership and get sweating!  I got myself a membership the day after I moved in, and found time to get to the gym during Freshers week, but it’s totally fine if it takes you a little bit longer to find your feet.  I used exercise as just as much as a mental break as a physical workout – time to myself and time to reflect on my new surroundings and all the stresses and changes that were going on in the first few weeks: I’m sure you could benefit from treating exercise in the same way!

5. Join a sport or club

If you’re not much into the gym (or even if you are), one of my main tips is to get involved with a sport or club.  Uni is the perfect opportunity to try things that are much less accessible back at home.  For me, this was rowing: I joined my Boat club during Freshers Week and had the most amazing time during my first year because of it.  Take a look at what your uni has to offer and sign up to new things.  This is your opportunity to find sports and hobbies that you possibly didn’t even know existed!  Not only will it keep you fit but it is the perfect way to meet even more people and make friends that will make keeping active and healthy more fun and less of a chore or struggle at uni!


6. Walk/cycle everywhere

One of my biggest tips is to keep active outside of the gym/sports by walking and cycling wherever possible.  Walking is so underrated as a form of staying healthy because you don’t even notice you’re doing it!  Ditch that bus pass and walk or cycle to uni, the gym, the supermarket, the shops.  Not only will that mean you’ll be getting fresh air and keeping your activity levels high, but it will also save you money on public transport!

7. Don’t be afraid of alcohol

One of the scariest things about going to uni for someone who is trying to stay healthy is the whole binge drinking culture around uni.  But honestly, do not fear.  During fresher’s week I drunk pretty much every night: it didn’t set me back, it didn’t hinder my progress and I had some of the most fun nights out that I can remember.  I promise, this will be the same for you!  After Freshers I certainly didn’t drink as much because I am not a big drinker at all, but I still enjoy it in moderation.  Obviously be sensible with alcohol and your limits, but don’t refuse to drink just for the fear of being “healthy”.  On another note, don’t be afraid to say no to alcohol.  People will always respect your choice to not drink: go out when you want but suggest doing other things that don’t involve alcohol from time to time, like staying in and having a film night or baking a cake!


Don’t avoid alcohol or nights out just for sake of being healthy – everything in moderation is fine! I met some of my best friends during Freshers’ week!


8. Be yourself

My main point is to just be true to yourself.  I was lucky enough last year that I was surrounded by lots of people in my flat, on my course and at the gym that were interested in the same things as me, and those who didn’t were simply intrigued and asked questions!  We are all from different backgrounds with different hobbies and interests and that is part of what makes uni (and life!) so exciting.  There will always be people who criticise you, your lifestyle and your choices so you have to do what makes you happy.  Don’t do things outside of your lifestyle because it’s not the “norm” and you think you’ll be judged for it.  People will like you for doing you, and if they don’t they don’t matter!  Uni is a place to find people that you truly connect with and by always being yourself you will attract those friendships and relationships that will only lift you higher and allow you to live a happier life, and that’s what truly matters.



9. And lastly; DON’T WORRY.

It will take a little while for you to get into routine.  It will seem scary at first. You will drink alcohol and you will eat unhealthily at times.  But, most importantly: you will have the best time of your life.  Your time at uni is one big adventure: it’s the time where you meet new people, find out more about yourself and the world, have new experiences and grow as a person.  Don’t lose sight of all that just to be extremely “healthy”.  Don’t forget, a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body and you will find your balance if you just relax and embrace every opportunity.

I really hope you find this helpful and if you have any more queries, questions or comments feel free to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

Lou x


Finding a lifestyle balance.

As a lot of you may know, my life during term-time at uni is pretty busy! With lectures, labs, studying, assignments, cooking, laundry, rowing, training, socialising and relaxing, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day!

Student life can often be very overwhelming and stressful, but it is also some of the best years of your life, so here are some of my tips on how best to manage your time and find that healthy balance in your life!


1. Write Lists

Being organised is key for helping you maintain a balance in your life so one of my top tips is to write lists!  Whether it’s by hand, on little sticky notes or simply on your phone, this will help you so much and remind you what needs to be done.  I am such a fan of a list, I make them for everything: my uni work, shopping, little jobs to do, places I need to go, etc!  They keep you productive as you always know where you’re at and what you need to do.  It’s somewhat extremely satisfying ticking stuff off your lists and keeps you motivated to keep pushing through those busy days and weeks!


2. Get up earlier

This may sound daunting to a lot of you as I know how much people love their beds but one of my main tips is to get up a little earlier! Whether that be an hour or two or just half an hour, trust me, it could make a massive difference to your day!  Some of your most productive time is probably early morning when you first wake up.  Personally, I like to get up at 5am, be in the gym by 6am and get my workout/training done for the day nice and early before lectures, so that’s one less thing to worry about and starts my day off productively!

3. Get enough sleep

The other side to waking up earlier is making sure that you get enough sleep.  Don’t get up so early that you compromise your Z’s.  Being well-rested is essential for being productive not only for the next day, but the whole week in general.  One night of little sleep could affect the next few days, so you may have to sacrifice some late nights in order to get some shut-eye!


4. Make your workouts efficient.

For me, fitting in my workouts/training is one of my daily priorities.  I usually find that first thing in the morning is the best and most efficient time for me to get to the gym, although sometimes I will go in the evening if that works for me.  Make sure your workouts are short but effective.  You don’t need to spend hours upon hours slaving away in the gym – in fact, the most productive ones for me usually only last about 45 minutes!  If you like lifting weights but are short on time, add in lots of supersets/dropsets and keep your rest periods short to really keep your heart-rate high and ensure you are really feeling it in your muscles.  If you prefer cardio, ensure you do HIIT – just 15-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training will be much more time-efficient than slogging away for hours on the treadmill, not to mention much more enjoyable!  Get in and out of the gym quickly having had an enjoyable and effective workout and crack on with the rest of your day/evening!


5. Food Plan & Prep

Probably one of the best ways to stay organised is to plan and prep your food/meals in advance.  It’s surprising how much time cooking can take out of your week as a student as you have to do everything yourself; the preparation, the cooking AND the washing up.  Therefore, cooking meals in bulk all at once can help shave off so much time from the rest of your week, so that you don’t waste time everyday cooking from fresh.  I like to cook big pots of mince meat in a sauce with lots of veg which will provide around 4-5 servings that I can then either pop in the fridge or freezer for later in the week.  I also cook a few chicken breasts and keep them in my fridge for the week.  When it comes to veg, I usually buy a tonne of frozen veg which only takes 5 minutes to boil – quick and easy peasy!  As lots of you will know from following my instagram, I like to prepare my post-workout zoats in the evening ready to grab straight after my morning workout before lectures!


If you’re a fellow macro-tracker like myself, I would advise taking a few minutes every evening to plan the following day or next few day’s eats.  For me, I will usually plan my protein source for each meal (meat, eggs, fish, whey), then add in my carb sources (usually around my training).  If there’s anything I’m particularly fancying like a certain nut butter/sweet treat I’ll usually add that in too.  Everything else I’ll add in as I go along the following day.  This will just shave off a little bit of time and stress for the next day and will mean that you know roughly what you’ll eat: this means you’ll continue to make good choices with regards to food and won’t end up snacking on rubbish because of your busy schedule.

6. Multitask

By this, I mean use your time wisely and try not to procrastinate!  I know this is much easier said than done: my middle name used to be procrastination!  But the busier you are, the more you find that you can motivate yourself to get stuff done because you have no choice but to manage your time.  I’m not saying you have to do anything too taxing like writing a 3000 word essay whilst doing sit ups and the washing up all at once (although that would be very impressive!), but simple things like doing some uni work whilst waiting for your laundry to finish or your food to cook can save so much time throughout the day and ensures that you’re always being a little productive!

Also, a little tip that I’ve found that really helps me with regards to uni work is to take your laptop to lectures/tutorials and type up notes as you go along.  It’s far quicker and all your work and notes will be in one place on your laptop, making it much easier when it comes to doing assignments or revision later on.



7. Take time to relax 

This is such a vital point.  Even though it’s important to make your time productive, don’t forget that taking time out of your schedule to chill is just as essential, otherwise you’ll go insane!  Make sure you take time everyday to switch off from everything and spend some time completely relaxing and de-stressing.  Whether it be hanging with friends, listening to music, going for a stroll or whatever; your mind will thank you for the break from a busy day!


8. Love what you do

This may sound difficult but is a pretty simple concept.  If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, what is the point?  If you hate your workouts or training, change them up/choose a different sport.  If you feel uncomfortable in certain friendships/relationships, choose to surround yourself only with the people that support you and make you feel wonderful.  If you hate the subject you study or the job you do, seriously consider changing your path.

Some may say that it isn’t as simple as that, but it really is.  This life is all about being happy and if something is causing you to feel the opposite then a change must be made.  I completely agree that we must all go through things and do things that aren’t always desirable; this makes us appreciate the good things even more.  But if you truly love the majority of what you do it’ll be much easier to happily juggle the different aspects of your life.



I hope you find these tips helpful: they are some of the things that I live by day to day to help me through my busy schedule.  Whether you’re a student or not, hopefully they will also help you on your way to a more balanced and happier lifestyle!

Lou x


A reflection of 2015 & my Goals for 2016

Wow, another year has gone by: I can hardly believe it.  That also means that it has been a whole year since I started this blog, Lou’s Lean Lifestyle!

Looking back on to 2015, I can honestly say it has been the best year yet and I currently feel the happiest I ever have done in my life.  So much has happened, particularly in the last 3 months!

As many of you who follow me on social media will know, last year I went back to college to study for an A level in Biology (to accompany the other 4 A levels I got back in 2013).  Studying for an entire A level in a year part-time whilst working at the same time was no mean feat and I am so so proud of myself for working hard to achieve an A.  This landed me my dream position as a student at the University of Surrey to study Nutrition!

Starting Uni in September this year was an extremely scary prospect for me as I dropped out of uni in October of 2013 due to me hating my course (I went to Warwick to study Maths!), and I obviously didn’t want the same thing to happen again.  This time though, I just knew that I had made the right decision even before I got to uni and I was right: my course and everything about uni life is just how I wanted it to be and so much more.

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Firstly, I have met the most amazing people: I am so lucky that the 11 other flatmates I have been placed with have all turned out to be some of my best friends, many of whom are massive foodies/fitness fanatics, like myself!  I am constantly meeting new people from all walks of life and finding myself surrounded by people who are on exactly the same wavelength as me, which is just great.


The first night of freshers with the best flatmates I could wish for.

Secondly, my course is so so fascinating.  Having only become interested in nutrition about a year and a half ago, I can hardly believe that I am now studying for a degree in this fascinating subject.  To be studying at such an amazing University as Surrey makes me feel so lucky everyday.  I am being taught by some of the most informed lecturers in their field, live in one of the nicest towns in England – in which I feel truly at home – and have access to the most incredible facilities, including Surrey Sports Park which is just out of this world!  The gym is outstanding and there is also a 50m pool, climbing wall, loads of pitches/courts and there’s even a Starbucks so I can get my coffee fix, what more could a girl ask for?!


Last, but by certainly no means least, I joined the Uni of Surrey Boat club and started rowing; arguably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!  The training is so intense: usually 6-7 days a week with a mixture of weights, a lot more cardio than I’m used to, and rowing on the Thames every weekend.  I almost need to pinch myself with how lucky I feel to be involved in such an incredible sport (even though my legs hurt constantly!).  All my teammates are amazing and have become my closest friends.  It is also through this sport that I met my wonderful best friend, who is now my boyfriend; someone that I now could never imagine my life without.

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Fitness & diet-wise, my weight massively fluctuated at the beginning of the year.  With the stress of college exams and lack of time to train, I over-ate and undertrained and found it difficult to find a balance.  The summer was a massive turning point for me as I had so much more time to get in the gym and was introduced to flexible dieting/IIFYM, which has helped me so much in finding a healthier balance with food, being a lot less restrictive and allowing me to understand the importance of precision of macronutrients in the diet for reaching your goals (a blog post for another day!).  Since going to uni my strength and cardiovascular fitness has increased dramatically and body fat percentage decreased significantly, mainly due to all the extra training I now do for rowing (which is great because it means I get to eat loads more!).


In April of 2015 I also became a blogger for Cardiff Sports Nutrition, a health and food supplement store which I feel so privileged to be associated with.  I get to try their amazing products and give some of the best brands an honest review for you guys, which I mainly do on my instagram.  I even have a 10% discount code LOULEAN10 which you can use online

Aside from uni and fitness related things, 2015 has also held some of the worst days of my life.  In terms of personal life, one of my family members became seriously ill in August, and for a long while it looked like there was no hope, which was absolutely crushing.  However, with the amazing help and support of family, friends and an incredible surgeon, this family member is now fully on the road to recovery and I could not be happier.  Although incredibly scary, this has made my family and I closer than ever, and it is times like this that make you truly appreciative of life and the many opportunities it holds.

So, as you can see, I am so content with my life at the moment and am entering 2016 with so much positivity. I have lots to look forward to: my 21st birthday, the start of race season with rowing, the second semester of my degree, summer and so much more.  The main thing I can ask for out of this next year is that it will continue in the way in which 2015 has ended.


I have written myself a few goals/resolutions for this year, which are in the back of my diary and also pinned on my noticeboard.  They include some of the following:

  • read more – this year I really want to broaden my mind and read as much non-fiction as possible, especially things that may be related to my degree (which shouldn’t be a problem because foooood!)
  • spend less time on the internet/phone – I think we’re all a little guilty of this one.  I really want to spend as little time as possible wasting away hours looking at pointless things on my laptop/mobile and use my time more productively!
  • get more sleep – as a lot of you may know, I am a sucker for an early morning (especially to workout) but don’t tend to get to bed early enough and end up running off coffee all day – a few more early nights are needed in 2016!
  • don’t worry so much about my body – like a lot of us, I can be extremely body-conscious, which I hate.  Unfortunately, it is one of those things that in today’s society is difficult not to be.  However, I know that I just need to relax and not care so much: having character and personality are what really counts in this life anyway.
  • eat a little less chocolate – this is definitely going to be a difficult one as I am a massive chocoholic!  And chocolate is good for the soul. And has some amazing health benefits. And tastes out of this world. Ok maybe this resolution wasn’t such a good idea..
  • blog more – admittedly, I didn’t write nearly as many blog posts as I planned on in 2015: life and uni got in the way but I will definitely be posting a lot more in 2016: let me know what you guys want to see, whether it be recipes/fitness/health-related!
  • sign up & do some charity runs/races – now that my cardiovascular fitness has increased I am so up for doing some 10ks, obstacle course, etc, especially if it is for a good cause! Any suggestions?
  • go on holiday/travel abroad – a big one for me as I didn’t manage to go abroad anywhere in 2015 and have most definitely got the bug to go on some adventures in the coming year!

The final and most important goal for me is to BE HAPPY – something which is often forgotten beneath striving for success and perfection in life.  Don’t forget, success isn’t a straight path and it is so important to love every step of the journey because otherwise, what’s the point right?


And finally, just to say a massive thank you to all of you who are following my blog/social media.  I love sharing my progress with you all and hearing your feedback – never hesitate to get in touch!

What are some of your goals/resolutions?  Whatever they are, I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2016; let’s smash it.

Lou x