How To Food Shop Smarter (And Save Money)

Open Fridge

Whether you’re trawling through the aisles of your local supermarket trying to figure out what to have for dinner or you’re knee-deep in the weekly online specials on your laptop, food shopping can be an expensive and confusing exercise. And with the huge range of food on offer, it’s easy to reach for the most convenient option… processed food. However, not only is it expensive, but a diet predominately made of processed foods will leave you deprived of a many essential nutrients. Instead, there’s a smarter way to shop that will save you time, money and help you keep on top of your fitness goals. Want to know how to food shop smarter? Here’s my five-step plan to a healthier shopping trolley:

Step 1: Be prepared

The best way to avoid panic food buying is to plan, plan, plan. Before you even step foot in a supermarket, spend some time creating a weekly meal (and snack) plan. It may take a while but trust me, it will save you time and money, and will help keep you healthier in the long run. It helps to break down your breakfast, lunch, and dinner options for the week, as well as morning and afternoon snacks, then you can create your shopping list accordingly. That way, you know exactly what to buy, and you’ve also avoided all the decision-making fatigue for the next week. Studies even show that meal planning can result in a healthier diet [1] and can save you money [2]. It’s a win-win situation. If you don’t have time to create a full meal plan, just having a detailed shopping list can help you avoid impulse buys [3], like that family pack of Caramello chocolate… 

Grocery List

Step 2: Understand food labels

With food packaging displaying words like “low-fat”, “no-fat”, “salt reduced” and “organic”, it can be challenging to know the best options to put in your trolley. Something that looks healthy, just because it has green packaging and says “all- natural”, can actually have more sugar in it than a box of coco puffs. The secret is all in the nutritional content. Although it may look complicated, taking the time to read and understand nutritional labels can help you identify and choose which option is healthiest [4]. Food labels can also help you avoid nasty surprises, like saturated fat, added salt and sugar. And remember, just because something is labelled “vegan”, “gluten free” and “dairy free”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Check out the label and see for yourself whether it’s worth a place in your trolley.

Food Labels

Step 3: Consider bulk buying

If you have the room in your cupboards, bulk buying can help save you money [5], reduce food waste and lessen your environmental impact. And not only that, but you’ll always have healthy options on hand for a meal or quick snack. Food such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, canned beans, and legumes are good staples. Tins of tuna and salmon, dried fruit, and nuts are also good to throw in the trolley. My tip? Nut butter keeps really well for a long time and is delicious. However, with all of these items, make sure you store them well to avoid creating a colony of weevils or a line of ants in your kitchen. There’s no use bulk buying if you have to throw it all out before you even cook it.

Rice, Pasta and Lentils in Jars

Step 4: Buy fresh and frozen

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, fresh can be best (especially when it’s the right season). However, frozen foods have come a long way over the past few years. In fact, studies show frozen fruit and veggies are very efficient in retaining their nutritional content and can be healthier than five-day old fresh fruit kept in the fridge [6]. For fresh fruit, try visiting your local fruit and veggie market for in-season produce. At the moment watermelons, grapes, tomatoes, capsicums, and zucchinis are good choices. Not only will they taste better, but they’ll also be cheaper. And for frozen vegetables, stock up on quality brands that are snap frozen; peas, carrots, spinach, berries, and smoothie fruits are all smart options.

Open Fridge

Step 5: Get professional advice

To become an expert on what to add to your weekly shop, consider enlisting the help of a nutritionist. Here at Ivy Training, all of our personal trainers are qualified in the field of nutrition and can provide tailored nutritional advice just for you. We understand what your body needs to become healthier and fitter and can develop strategies to help you reach your goals (in the shopping aisles and at the gym). As nutrition is such an integral part of becoming healthier and fitter, it’ll save you time and money (and help you reach your goals faster) to spend a little time planning the right meals for you. 

Professional advice



Five Reasons You Need A Personal Trainer

Five Reasons You Need A Personal Trainer

When it comes to working out, there are so many different decisions to make. What exercises do you enjoy? What are your goals? What equipment do you want to include? What movements are right for you, and how do you keep your motivation up? It can be exhausting, and you haven’t even started to sweat yet! This is where a personal trainer can help, not only can they help you get fitter, stronger and healthier, research shows that personal trainers are actually the key to changing our attitudes towards working out, and therefore improving the efficacy of our workouts [1]. 
Interested? Here are five more reasons you should consider enlisting the help of a personal trainer.

You don’t know where to start

If you’re not an expert (and, let’s face it, we can’t all be experts), you may find it hard to know where to begin. For gym novices, equipment can be daunting and terminology can be overwhelming. (A preacher curl bench has nothing to do with church and a Turkish get-up isn’t as fun as it sounds.) Plus, learning new exercises can be difficult and sometimes a YouTube tutorial doesn’t cut it. A personal trainer can help you get to grips (sometimes literally) with all the equipment you need. They also know what exercises and routines will work best for you and can teach you to do them safely. 

Man Performing Turkish Get Up

You want to see results

Maybe you’ve got a deadline (like a competition, fun run or your best friend’s wedding) and you want to kickstart your progress, or maybe you’ve been training for a while but you feel like you’ve plateaued? Either way, the most efficient way to start seeing progress is to get professional advice. A qualified personal trainer can help you set achievable goals, hold you accountable to your workouts and can adjust your training plan as you go, to ensure you’re making progress and getting the results you want. At Ivy Training, we also offer nutritional advice, which can help to supercharge your training. Whether that’s weight loss, muscle building or general wellbeing, we’ve got you covered.

Woman Measuring Waist

You have a specific need

Personal trainers are invaluable for people who have specific needs: people with chronic pain, injuries or ongoing niggles, new mums or those suffering from “office chair” back! Unlike cookie-cutter gym classes or training templates, personal trainers can design a training program with personalised exercises that support your individual needs and situations. They can easily modify the program as you go, and offer the encouragement needed to stick with it. 

Knee Pain

You don’t have much time 

Can’t make it to any of the classes at your gym, or only have less than an hour to workout? You can make it count with a personal trainer. Personal trainers can help you get fit and see results in short, intense sessions more efficiently than if you were working out yourself. Plus, as your sessions are usually one on one, you can arrange them around your own schedule – or even bring the training to your house, unlike that 60 minute reformer pilates class you keep missing… 

Hour Glass in Office

You want help to get to the next level

Personal trainers are also a good option for people who want to take their fitness up a notch. You could be a talented runner, who wants to know how to train off the track to boost endurance, or a handstand-loving yogi who wants to incorporate weightlifting into the mix. Or maybe you just want to know some extra moves to add into your regular workout to stave off boredom? We’ve all been there. A qualified personal trainer will be able to introduce you to new equipment and can completely overhaul your workout in a way that helps you reach your goals faster and keeps you having fun. 

Male Sprinter

If you’re ready to give personal training a go, get in touch so we can discuss your goals today. 



Are Protein Shakes Healthy?

Are Protein Shakes Healthy?

If you’re trying to build strength and repair muscles, protein shakes can be a good way to fuel your body. That’s because protein is essential for our body to function well and can be found in everything from our skin and hair to our internal organs [1]. In fact, not consuming enough protein can lead to muscle loss and a range of other health issues. 

Using protein shakes can be an easy, convenient way to up your protein intake, but are protein shakes healthy? The answer is yes. Not only can you easily measure out exactly how much protein you are consuming but drinking a protein shake also avoids the need for larger meals and they can be consumed “on the go”. 

There are plant-based protein powders, such as pea, hemp, soy and brown rice, and lactose-based shakes, made from whey. The two main players are whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein concentrate (WPC); they both have a high nutritional content and are easily absorbed digested into the body [2]. However, while WPI and WPC both originate from the same beginnings, namely milk, there is a difference to their content. WPI goes through an extra filtration step, so the end produce contains less fat, less sugar and is overall a purer product, containing at least 90% protein [3]. 

While there is a lot of research into the benefits of protein shakes, including muscle growth, weight loss and reducing inflammation, there is some evidence that excess consumption of protein shakes can cause bloating, cramps, and nausea [4]. So, the best way to ensure you get the most benefits out of your protein shakes is to make sure you are consuming the right ones, the right way.

Here’s how to make your protein shake healthy:   

Know Your Daily Intake 

When it comes to getting healthier and taking control of your workouts, knowing how much protein you should consume verses how much you are consuming is helpful. In Australia, the current recommendation falls between 0.6g per kilo of body weight to 1.07g per kilo of body weight [5], but I believe this is insufficient for strength, hypertrophy, performance and improving body composition. I suggest my clients should be getting between 1.6g to 3.1g per kilo of body weight. The exact amount will depend on factors such as gender, age, activity levels and goals. Consuming a protein shake each day can help you hit your recommended daily intake in a convenient, measured way.

Invest in Quality Protein

The same way we should be buying fresh food and reading nutritional labels correctly, we should be choosing a high-grade protein powder with quality ingredients. The first step is to ask your personal trainer for their recommendation of brands to try. Their assessment of your protein intake is also important. It pays to do your research and trial a few brands before you buy. When you are deciding which protein powder is best for you, choose a brand with as few ingredients as possible, little-to-no added sugar and a good reputation. Some brands come in a range of flavours, which can be delicious, but they do limit how you use them. Before you invest in a product, think about how you will most often consume it. Protein powders can be expensive, so you want to make you get best one for you.

Consume it Correctly

There is a misconception among gym-goers that drinking a protein shake an hour after a workout is important. However, there isn’t enough research to back that claim up. While there is some evidence suggesting that consuming protein post-workout is beneficial [6], I believe it’s more important to have a sufficient amount of protein in each meal instead. To further optimise protein intake, I encourage my clients to time their meal frequency to every 3-5 hours for optimal MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis). The combination of these two things assists with better muscle growth, recovery/repair, and satiety.

Maintain a Healthy Diet  

Along with choosing a quality product and consuming the correct amount of protein for your diet, it’s important to have a healthy diet as well. Pure protein shakes are designed to be a supplement and are best used in conjunction with a well-rounded diet. I encourage clients to have an overall healthy diet with mainly single ingredient foods, such as animal protein, fruit, vegetables. I also encourage my clients to view whey protein (and therefore protein shakes) like any other source of protein. So, when you’re planning your meals for the week, aim to include roughly 80% whole foods and 20% soul foods. These are foods you enjoy and are considered somewhat a “treat”, that might contain processed ingredients. 



The Best Bushwalks on the Upper North Shore

Little Digger Track

After writing The Best Bushwalks on the Lower North Shore, our clients from the Upper North Shore asked for something similar. Prefer to skip to a particular walking track? Click on any of the below walks and we’ll take you straight there!

  1. Bobbin Head, Sphinx and Warrimoo Loop Track
  2. Gibberagong Walking Track
  3. Darri Track
  4. Sheldon Forest Walking Track
  5. South Turramurra Step Track
  6. Two Creeks Track
  7. Little Bluegum Creek Track
  8. Wildflower Gardens
  9. Blackbutt Creek Track
  10. Little Digger Track

Bobbin Head, Sphinx and Warrimoo Loop Track

Difficulty: moderate to hard

Distance: 10km loop

Getting there: start behind Empire Marina, Bobbin Head

We’re starting our best bushwalks on the Upper North Shore with one of the harder ones. This 10km loop will take you through Bobbin Head, leading to the Warrimoo track and then the Sphinx track (depending on what direction you decide to walk in). There’s lots of history to see along this walk, so leave plenty of time to observe and take it all in.

Gibberagong Walking Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 8.3km return

Getting there: start at Bobbin Head

If you love bird watching and wildlife spotting, the Gibberagong Walking Track should be on your to-do list. Starting at Bobbin Head, you will follow Cockle Creek before venturing through the bushland and arriving at a large waterhole – easily the highlight of the track.

Darri Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 7km return

Getting there: start at Bedford Avenue, North Turramurra

The Darri Track starts at Bedford Avenue in North Turramurra, and takes you through some beautiful bushland before joining the Warrimoo Track in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. You will notice classic sandstone bushland along the way, including the She-oak and Sydney Red Gum.

Sheldon Forest Walking Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 1.7km one way

Getting there: start at Warragal Road, Turramurra

This track will lead you deep into the Sheldon Forest, through ridge tops, open forest and down Avondale Creek. Sheldon Forest is a high conservation area as it is one of the few remaining pieces of the endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and Blue Gum High Forest. You can return the way you came, or exit at Troon Place.

South Turramurra Step Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 2km return

Getting there: start at Kingsford Avenue, South Turramurra

The Step Track is a relatively short walk, with plenty of signposts around with information about the features of the track. You’ll also get the opportunity to visit the scenic lookout which offers some incredible views of the waterfall. Keep an eye out for birds flying about – Grey Fantails, Yellow Robins and Red-browed Finches are commonly spotted.

Wildflower Gardens

There are a number of different bush tracks that you can go on at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens, ranging from 200m to 3km. We’ve categorised them into short walks ranging from 200m to 500m, and long walks ranging from 2km to 3km.

Short Walks

Grade: easy

Distance: 200m to 500m

Getting there: start at  Wildflower Gardens, St Ives

The shorter walks are comprised of the Brown Trail (300m), the Fitzgerald Track (300m), the Banks Track and Boardwalk (300m), the Smith Track (400m), the Bentham Track (300m), the Caley Track (200m) and the Senses Track (500m).

Long Walks

Grade: easy to moderate

Distance: 2km to 3km

Getting there: start at  Wildflower Gardens, St Ives

The longer walks are comprised of the Mueller Track (3km) and the Solander Trail (2km).

Blackbutt Creek Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 2.4km one way

Getting there: start at St Johns Avenue, Gordon

Blackbutt Creek Track follows Blackbutt Creek along the reserve, before you cross the creek and connect to St Johns Avenue. You will notice some incredibly tall blackbutt trees throughout the walk, as well as turpentines and peppermint woodland.

Little Bluegum Creek Track

Difficulty: easy

Distance: 200m

Getting there: start at Lady Game Drive and Grosvenor Road, Lindfield 

Little Bluegum Creek Track is a wonderful short track through a rainforest in Lindfield. It’s the perfect walk for all ages and capabilities, and is accessible for prams and wheelchairs.

Two Creeks Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 7.5km return

Getting there: start at Slade Avenue and Tryon Road, East Lindfield

The Two Creeks Track circles East Lindfield, beside Gordon Creek to Middle Harbour, and continues along Middle to Roseville Bridge. If you start the walk at Slade Avenue and Tryon Road, you will need to pass under Eastern Arterial Road through the stormwater tunnel. Otherwise you can start the walk from the corner of Tryon Road and Eastern Arterial Road (near Lindfield Oval).

Little Digger Track

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 2km return

Getting there: start at Roseville Avenue and Amarna Parade, Roseville

You will start the Little Digger Track under the old oak tree on the corner of Roseville Avenue and Amarna Parade in Roseville, before following Moores Creek into the sandstone gully until you join the Two Creeks Track. There’s beautiful waterfalls, rock pools and caves to spot along the way, along with a number of native animals.

Have we missed any of your favourite bushwalks? Let us know if we need to add any tracks to the our best bushwalks on the Upper North Shore by contacting us.


  1. Ku-ring-gai Council:
  2. National Parks NSW: