How to build muscle without going to the gym…

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - The gym-free way to build muscle
Building muscle without going to the gym is possible.. you just need to know how!
I’m an avid fan for working out in the gym. I love the atmosphere and the free weights area is where you will usually find me… there and the functional fitness area of the gym. You’ll rarely find me on the cardio machines unless I’ve just stepped foot into the gym as I only do cardio at the start of my strength training to raise my heart rate and warm up my muscles. I’m not a cardio fan – give me the squat rack any day! 🙂

However the magical equation to building muscle is very (scientifically) simple… eat a balanced diet to feed your muscles and exercise using your body weight or weights (resistance or strength training) to build the muscle. Okay, there is a little more to this but these are your basic building blocks.

So without further ado, here are some tips by Jane Sandwood, a freelance writer at Totalshape.com on how you can build some muscle without stepping foot into the gym…

How to Maintain Fitness Goals Without a Gym

When you have fitness and health goals, going to the gym may be an integral aspect – or even the focus, of your routine. Gyms offer inspiration, motivation and come packed with various equipment that help you build and strengthen muscle. However, if you have a family, especially young kids, going to the gym regularly, or indeed at all, may not be a realistic option. To stay on track with your fitness journey and keep progressing towards your goals while being a busy parent, consider the following tips on how to build muscle and workout gym-free:

Utilise your own body weight

When you have kids, committing to daily or even weekly gym workouts can seem impossible, but muscle building and fitness never have to be sacrificed. There are plenty of in-home workouts that can be done without stepping outside that utilise your own bodyweight to offer an intense workout that builds and strengthens muscle. Yoga, often considered to be a relaxing and calming stretching routine, actually has many different poses that are considered strengthening exercises, working both your arm, leg and core muscles. Other options to include in your at-home workout routine include lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches, and planks. All of these use your own body’s weight to provide you with a challenging workout routine that will build and strengthen muscle.

The Greenwich Mummy Blogger - The gym-free way to build muscle
Photo by Dominik Wycislo on Unsplash
Invest in equipment

If going to the gym regularly or at all is not possible for you as a parent, consider investing in good quality equipment that will make your at-home workouts more challenging and productive. While exercises that utilise your own body weight are also effective, adding weights to lunges or squats, for example, will increase your strength and greatly speed up your muscle building goals. You can start off with some dumbbells of varying weights, a kettlebell, and some basic leg bands to add some diversity to your weight training. These options can all become staples of any good workout, so even if you choose to upgrade to fancier equipment in the future, you will always have a use for them.

The Greenwich Mummy Blogger | The gym-free way to build muscle
Turn your home into an effective mini gym with some functional equipment
Challenge yourself

Gyms offer inspiration and motivation. At home, you might need a little extra push to stay in the game and on track with your goals. Always make sure to challenge yourself and push yourself. When you find a workout routine that becomes much easier, don’t just settle. Instead, you should increase the weights, amount of repetitions, or both. Set goals for yourself based on your progress, and make sure to hold yourself accountable. This way, your at-home workouts will be just as productive, challenging, and results-oriented as any gym session!

For many parents, working out at home is the best way to ensure that they actually stay on track in terms of their fitness goals. While gyms of course come with many benefits, you can easily gym-ify your own home to make sure to build muscle, while remaining challenged. Incorporate the above steps to your workout routine and reap the benefits of at-home workouts!


A contribution post written exclusively for this blog by Jane Sandwood, a freelance writer at totalshape.com

Review: Mister Paste’s new sweet and sour mango sauce makes vegetarian cooking easy!

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Mister Paste New Vegetarian Mango Sauce Review
Photo source: MisterPaste.co.uk

I don’t always make vegetarian meals even though I did wish I made more of an effort to. LO is not a big meat fan – unless it’s oven cooked (fish fingers/chicken nuggets/turkey drummers), or meatballs with spaghetti you couldn’t get him to even touch it with a barge pole.

When the founder of Mister Paste, Ian (you can read more about Ian and his company in an interview post I wrote here) got in touch last month to inform me of his new sauce I was more than intrigued to try it out. Mister Paste’s vegetarian line of food had been recently accredited by the Vegetarian Society and was exhibiting at the Just V Show in Olympia.

So let’s talk about the mango sauce… it’s a lovely rich sauce that reminds me of Nandos’ mango and lime marinade (due to the kaffir lime leaves and mango sauce) and the consistency a Chinese sweet and sour sauce. It’s rich, sweet and tangy sauce is delicious, on the recipe printout included in the pack mentions that you could add fresh mango chunks but the sauce has so much flavour (made from real mango puréed, you don’t need to). I had made two dishes with the sauce; one for myself with Quorn cubes and the other with pan-fried salmon for the family as they’re not a big fan of Quorn.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Mister Paste New Vegetarian Mango Sauce Review
Quorn chunks with vegetables and egg noodles

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Mister Paste Vegetarian Mango Sauce Review

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Mister Paste New Vegetarian Mango Sauce Review
Pan-fried salmon with veggies and egg noodles

The sweet and sour mango sauce and other ingredients come in vacuum-sealed bags. All I had to buy was my choice of protein (salmon and Quorn), one red pepper, fresh coriander and lemon. I added in fish sauce instead salt as well as black pepper for seasoning and taste. I loved the chilli flakes that came with the pack so much that I bought extra. 🙂 I didn’t add all the flakes because otherwise the children and Daddy P wouldn’t have been able to eat it so it was more of a sweet and tangy mango sauce than a spicy one. But that suited our taste buds just right.

I had also originally planned the dish to be made with jasmine rice but we had egg noodles left over from when I was planning to make salmon teriyaki so we used that as a sub instead. I imagine that the dish would’ve been just as delicious with rice but somehow it felt a bit healthier and lighter with soy-tossed egg noodles. Daddy P who was initially sceptical about a fruity and savoury sauce admitted that he enjoyed it. I certainly did and so did the kids and my sister who was over for dinner.

Mister Paste’s sauce packs are literally an all-in-one product. The packs provide you with not only the sauce but the ingredients to go with it (all measured out for you) and comes complete with instructions on how to use it which is quintessentially the recipe on how to make the dish. Any ingredients that may be an allergen are highlighted in bold so you know exactly what goes in it.

I am very thrilled that the company’s vegetarian line has been recognised and accredited with an awarding body. It’s a statement to show everyone that Mister Paste really knows his stuff and can deliver high-quality sauces and pastes to vegetarians, non-vegetarians and those in-between like me! 🙂

LookFantastic.com August Beauty Box Review

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | LookFantastic Beauty Box Review
Shop the beauty box here

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I wrote my LookFantastic July beauty box review – it was quite popular review on my blog. I’m not going to deny it, it was a pretty good box. I never got round to posting this beauty box review last year so thought I would do it now… now that it’s August again! 🙂

This review is on the August 2016 beauty box from LookFantastic with a British theme, “Best of British”. I liked this box because it contained products just from UK brands. 100% British! It was a good box – my top three products from this box are the:

  1. REN Flash Defence anti-pollution mist toner (60ml, £24.00)
  2. Balance Me congested skin serum (15ml, no longer available individually)
  3. Bee Good honey & vanilla lip balm (10ml, £4.75)

The Mist
The REN anti-pollution mist was really nice to use. Whenever I needed to freshen up my face, a little spritz was very welcomed. It felt light and fresh on my skin and because it doesn’t have a scent I could use it again and again without being sick of a smell. It’s the ideal product on a hot, sticky summer’s day. The packaging is sleek and minimal which I really love – let the product do the talking right?!

What I didn’t like about the spray was that for a sample size it’s teeny weeny at 9ml. I used it daily and it was almost finished in two weeks but saying that, the full size version is 60ml so you’d get six times of two weeks worth (12 wks) which is pretty decent but slightly pricey at £24.00 a bottle.

If you do fancy giving it a try, I’d recommend going for the REN Urban Grey skin kit which is cheaper at £13.00 and has the mist (in the 9ml sample size) as well as the flash balm 1-minute facial cleanser (15ml) and the anti-ageing day cream moisturiser (15ml). This sample sized kit would be great if you’re travelling or need something small you can take on holiday.

The Serum
The Balance Me congested skin serum was also extremely lightweight and easy to use. I love the tube of the serum. In terms of packaging, its tip-application tube means that you could squeeze out every last bit of product before throwing the tube away. Definitely cost-effective.

I think this product is no longer available as a stand-alone product. Maybe Balance Me are planning to discontinue it… I dunno but it’s a little disappointing because it is actually a really good product. If you’re familiar with the Balance Me range and want to give this serum a try, it’s available in the Deluxe Clearer Skin kit which you can buy from LookFantastic.com.

The Lip Balm
Bee Good’s honey & vanilla lip balm smells absolutely divine! I love the smell and the consistency of the lip balm. It goes on very smoothly and feels very lightweight on the lips. The packaging is cute – the yellow colour I guess represents the honey and vanilla and the honeycomb design goes well with the bee logo and the brand name, “Bee Good”.

The honey and vanilla provides a good amount of moisture for the lips however for me personally I felt the lip balm was too lightweight. I’m used to the thicker consistency of Carmex balms but most days I can overlook this because of its delicious scent. 🙂

The other products in the box:

RENU Lip And Eye Active Lift (25ml, £11.00)
This is a lightweight lip and eye cream. The natural ingredients in this eye cream helps to stimulate collagen in the skin which plumps and firms the skin. The arnica extract in this product will also help to combat puffiness. If you have ageing skin or looking for a product to help give you a more youthful appearance, this RENU lift cream is right for you.

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm (75ml, £18.00)
A great little hair saviour. Percy & Reed is a brand that I am familiar and this wonder balm has some great reviews. It can be used alone or as a hair primer for other styling products. It’s best to apply it to towel-dried hair but can also be used on dry hair sparingly to give volume.

Bloom And Blossom Rejuvenating Facial Spritz (100ml, £15.00)
Two facial spritz in the same box! This one was bigger than the REN one which was my personal favourite out of the two. This Bloom & Blossom spray has a scent which smells quite earthy but don’t let that put you off because it’s a very light scent. The spray can be used over make-up and at anytime of the day. The aloe vera extract soothes the skin and leaves it soft to the touch. This spray is made without any parabens, SLS or synthetic nasties and is not tested on animals. Perfect for those who are looking for a green and ethical product.

And that’s it!

Out of all the six products, I had three faves but that’s not to say the other three weren’t good they just weren’t to my personal taste. If you liked this review, check out my other box reviews using the search bar at the top of the blog page.


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Healthy fizzy drinks for the family with the SodaStream Fizzi

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | Lizzie King x SodaStream

Last month I was invited to a wonderful event. SodaStream had just launched their new range, the Fizzi and had linked up health chef Lizzie King to put on an evening soiree for guests to sample her delicious sugar-free cocktails (and mocktails). As a non-drinker I was a bit unsure if it’d be wise for me to attend but then thought why not?! Just because I don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a beverage. I was also very intrigued on what type of mocktails could be made sugar-free as they are usually loaded with sugar.

The event was held at the Clerkenwell Grind. A lovely urban place to go for drinks and nibbles. The event was held downstairs in an intimate little bar area. I was treated to a lovely drink on arrival – I picked the Watermelon Cooler and all I can say is WOW! It tasted amazing!! Fresh watermelon juice, a hint of mint, all topped up with sparkling water from the SodaStream Fizzi machine. I literally downed my drink, it tasted that good. I also met another mummy blogger there and we started talking. She was also a non-drinker so I felt much better. 🙂 We chatted away about babies, blogging and had a good laugh.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | SodaStream Lizzie King Event

The Greenwich Mummy Blogger | SodaStream Lizzie King EventThen a second round of mocktails came, this time it was a peach bellini.  I was sceptical if it’d be nice and… I was right. It didn’t taste nice. The combination of fresh peaches juiced (which was heavy and bitty) with light sparkling water was something I wasn’t used to. I was not a fan of this combination especially after having the watermelon one. I didn’t finish my bellini mocktail but politely drank enough.

Lizzie King floated about the event, looking amazingly polished in a beautiful white dress teamed with red lips and natural makeup. She looked absolutely stunning. I’ve had a look at her cookbook on Amazon called Lizzie Loves Healthy Family Food and it’s got some really nice recipes that I’d like to try out.

Halfway through the event, Lizzie thanked everyone for coming and spoke a little bit more about her recipes including the mocktails. She explained that she wanted to create something the whole family could enjoy which wasn’t loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. The #sparklingsummer drinks recipe book has 5 interesting recipes to try including the two I tried (the watermelon one and peach one). There’s also a cocktail and mocktail guide at the end of the booklet to show you how to get the best mix.

The Greenwich Mummy Blogger | SodaStream Lizzie King event
The Greenwich Mummy Blogger | SodaStream Lizzie King event

Before the end of the evening, I had a bit of fun with all the different SodaStream machines. I tried the entry level range, the Fizzi (pictured above) which was super easy to use and I loved the traditional push button function. All the other machines had an automatic button function. The sleek design of the Fizzi would look great on anyone’s kitchen worktop. At the end of the event, I received my very own SodaStream Fizzi complete with a #sparklingsummer drink recipe book to try out at home. I was over the moon!

A month on, all I can say is that I am still in love with my Fizzi machine. It’s like having sparkling water on tap! 🙂 The kids still love their water and squash with water but now LO can ask for “fizzy juice” (sugar-free dilute squash with sparkling water) and I don’t have to feel guilty about giving it to him. I’ve hardly had soft drinks since I started my health and fitness journey but now I can enjoy a little bit of fizz without feeling guilty.

With our Fizzi machine, we use it on a daily basis. We just can’t get enough of it! I’m yet to host a house party to show off my mocktail skills but I’m very happy that in the meantime I can offer friends and family both still and sparkling beverages. All of the machines have a gas canister that needs to be changed when it runs out. I have used mine daily and I think there’s still quite a lot of uses left which makes the Fizzi an economical purchase. The canisters are available from Argos and I’ve been told by the SodaStream team that empty canisters can be returned to the Argos stores for safe disposal.

If you’re looking for a new useful gadget in the home and are a fan of sparkling drinks, I highly recommend purchasing the SodaStream machines. Prices start from £99.99 for the new ranges but I’ve found older models on Google from just £40… a bargain. 🙂

Let’s talk FOOD: An interview with Mister Paste

Last month I wrote a review on two Mister Paste’s curry pastes that I tried out and boy were they tasty. This month I’m launching my new series “Let’s Talk…” which is all about interviewing small businesses to help support them, raise awareness for their business, and learning more about them.

To kickstart my series, we’re discussing about food so what better way that to interview the founder of Mister Paste, Ian…

1. Tell us a little bit more about yourself

“Spend most of the my working life in computing but then owned a Singaporean restaurant in the city for 4 years and following that ran a frozen yoghurt booth, creating my own flavours, inside a deli.”

2. Why did you decide to start up Mister Paste?

“When strapped for time, i used to use bottled sauces but I got fed up with the gloopy sauces and not being able to really tailor the taste to my liking. Knowing that they already pasteurised (i.e. cooked) and full of preservatives to be able to sit in a warehouse or on a shelf for up to 1.5 years, I started thinking about a way to get raw and preservative free sauces to the time strapped cook at home to really give that “made at home” taste. I also got fed up not knowing just how spicy a sauce would be and thought it would be good to be able to control that at cooking time. I then happened upon vacuum sealing at home and saw this as my route to getting raw clean food to the market. I could then make the paste, vacuum seal it for freshness and then also package sachets of added ingredients like chilli so you can control the heat to your level.”

3. How authentic are your pastes in terms of taste?

“As with all recipes, they are particular to the recipe writer and close as
 possible to the authentic taste. If you search out a recipe on the internet you will find tens of “authentic” recipes for the same dish that are all different.”

4. Where do you get your inspiration from for your paste recipes?

“I looked at what are the most known dishes ordered in restaurants and used them for the basis of my initial range of curry pastes. As for the sauces, I’ve not seen them in any restaurants so they are ones I have found and Developed the recipe for my own taste and hope that many will also share my taste. I’m lucky that i have friends who are Thai and Indian who were willing to taste test and comment my recipes.”

5. What’s your favourite paste (from your range) and why?

“It’s hard to choose a favourite curry but if i would like eat beef, I’d choose rendang and for chicken I’d pick vindaloo. For the sauces, I’d choose the spicy,sweet and sour mango which is due to be launched soon.”

Bonus Question: Do you have any other plans for Mister Paste in the future?

“Future plans at the moment are a) to get more people to visit and buy from www.misterpaste.co.uk  and b) to add more recipes and also add some snacks like prawn crackers with a home made sweet chilli sauce.”

A part of my new ‘Let’s Talk’ interview series

Our day trip to Westgate-on-Sea: My favourite UK beach for the kids

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids

We all love a good beach holiday – fortunately living in London means we can easily jump on a train and head down to the coast in less than two hours (most of the time!) When there was just LO, I took him to Westgate-on-Sea with my friend and her daughter (you can read about our trip here) a couple of years back in August. It was so hot I even got sunburnt that day!

Bank Holiday weekend was going to be sunny, especially on Saturday so I asked Daddy P if we should all go to the beach for the day. He was a little reluctant – he’s very shy – and was a little anxious about being on the beach with people but I assured him it would be lovely, chilled and NOT busy like Margate. Whilst Margate is great for older kids and teens, I think Westgate is perfect for younger children and babies.

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
Margate for older kids and teens, Westgate for young children and babies
We set off on Saturday morning at 10am to arrive at London Victoria station. It was packed! I think everyone had the idea of going to the beach that day – luckily for us I booked our tickets the night before. There was the longest queue for the ticket machine but a member of staff told us we could just show our ticket reference at the gate and collect the tickets when we got to Westgate. We boarded on the 11:37 train and reached Westgate-on-Sea by 14:05 – the train was late and this was probably because it was so busy. There was an announcement on the train that said First Class was open because it was so busy – lucky for those who managed to get a seat in First Class but we were happy enough to get spacious priority seats on the train when we got on.

Arriving at Westgate-on-Sea station, we picked up a few beach items before heading down to the beach. We got a sun canopy tent for £13.99, Daddy P picked up a fisherman-style hat and I got the kids a couple of buckets and spades. Food and snacks too, of course! When we got down to the beach which was about a 5-10 mins walk from the station, we arrived at St. Mildred’s Bay – it looked beautiful in the sunshine. The only problem was that it was still high tide! I hadn’t checked the tide times – oops!

Top Tip: If you’re heading to the beach, check the tide times!

It was not a big problem for us. Plus, it was a lovely day and the sun was shining so we didn’t mind. It was a little windy but sometimes, a welcomed breeze. Apparently the local cinema (Carlton Cinema) only costs £3.50 per ticket so we could’ve looked for it but we weren’t that fussed.

We decided to head up towards West Bay beach which is where I went with my friend a couple of years ago. We sat on the side of the walkway like the locals, watching other people pass by. We ate our sandwiches and cheese & onion crisps, washed down with water and fruit shoot. After we had finished eating, we decided that it would be nicer to head back down to St. Mildred’s Bay as it seemed less windy there. On our way walking back, we stopped off at the local cafe for clotted cream ice cream which was so yummy! I went for the caramel one and got Daddy P a boozy rum & raisin one though he picked out the raisins… they were really big raisins and he’s not a fan of fruit in things.

He’s a fussy eater.

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
A view of St. Mildred’s Bay

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
Walking back from West Bay eating our ice cream

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
A silly selfie moment (Daddy P photobombing in the background)

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
LO giving us a big smile for the camera!
The tide had gone down a little as it was around 4pm so we found a little spot on the sand and pitched up our sun canopy tent. It’s one of those pop-up ones so easy to set up but because it was windy it was so hard to keep it secure. We ended up folding the stroller and put it at the back of the tent to weigh it down haha! I let the kids roam free on the sand and in the shallow waters. LO was in his element and I really think he wouldn’t have been brave enough to venture out by himself if it was a crowded beach. He took his bucket and went looking for shells and sea snails on the side of the small rock cliffs whilst Baby Girl sat happily in the sunshine with her bucket and spade eating sand… she ate A LOT of sand. She ate so much that when we got home, we were met with a big sand-poo nappy. Nice. Nothing better than an exfoliating poo to wash off.

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
“Mmm this sand looks tasty…”

The Greenwich Mummy | Westgate-on-Sea best beach for Kids
Munch, munch, munch!
We stayed on the beach until toughly 7pm. It was starting to get even more quiet and we thought it would be best to head home before the mad rush of people from Margate got on the train. For the whole day we only lost one pair of Baby Girl’s sandals and LO’s sun hat. Not too bad for a full day out to the beach, I thought we’d lose much more than that. 🙂 When we got on the train, it wasn’t too busy. LO and Daddy P managed to get a seat so I stood up with Baby Girl in the stroller. Daddy P would’ve been the one standing but he’s not great with the stroller so I took one for the team.

It was a great day out and I would definitely love to take the kids again. I really think that Westgate-on-Sea is a great UK beach for families with young kids. It’s less chaotic and packed like Margate but just as lovely. Upon coming to Westgate, we passed Whitstable and Herne Bay, they looked amazing. I know Botany Bay is not too far too and I’ve said to Daddy P that might have to be our next little beach to review. 🙂

There isn’t much to do around Westgate in terms of attractions or games so if you’re looking for a beach that offers that I’d suggest going to Margate instead. However, if you’re looking for beach destination where your little ones can roam free but still be within your eye line, head down to West Bay beach or St. Mildred’s Bay at Westgate.

Here’s some useful links on Westgate-on-Sea before visiting:
General info – http://westgate-on-sea.kent-towns.co.uk
Weather – www.accuweather.com
Tide times – www.tidetime.org
Things to do (not much) – www.aboutbritain.com

I hope you find this post helpful! If you’ve also been to Westgate, let me know what you thought about it below. 🙂

The Greenwich Mummy Blog by Manny Ngo