Sunday, 26 April 2015

Exante Diet Review*

I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Exante Diet to trial some of their trial weight-loss packages. After recently trying Slim-fast weight-loss meal plans and shakes, I realised it definitely wasn't really for me bar one of the shakes, I was eager to try the Exante meal plans as after my research, I wanted to understand just how they worked, from sachets you can create actual meals.
  For all those who are not familiar with the brand, Exante Diet has a range of flexible, easy to follow weight-loss/weight management plans. By replacing your everyday meals and replacing them with Exante meals, you are able to eat the correct portion controlled meals as well as give up the calorie counting, to ensure a steady weigh-loss journey.

I was sent a fairly huge box of Exante goodies to try, and honestly didn't know what to expect. The box included meals, shakes and even a pizza kit. 

Meal Plans
During my whole Exante Diet journey, I tried a variety of their product meals from Soups to Pudding to Shakes. Below is a few from the trial kit and what I thought of them

 I started every morning with the shakes I was sent until I ran out of them, the flavours I was sent were strawberry, chocolate, raspberry and lemon, and cream coconut. Out of all the shakes the main one I was able to enjoy the most was the strawberry shake, I found the others to be either unsuitable for me or to completely disagree with my taste-buds. Although they all smelt and taste full of flavour.

The strawberry breakfast shake was really easy to make just needing to add cold water and a couple of ice cubes, and it was even easier to drink. Full of flavour but not as thick as a milkshake (due to no milk). I have never been a breakfast person, nor does it sit right in my stomach in the morning as I tend to feel ill, so I find it very easy to digest shakes. 
The chocolate shake wasn't really my cup of tea as chocolate contains caffeine which makes me ill, but for this review, I had a sip to get an idea of what it may taste like. And as you can imagine it was very very chocolatey, this would be heaven for those chocolate lovers out there.
The raspberry and lemon shake unfortunately really made me uncomfortable sort of like when you suck a lemon, it was full of flavour but not the flavour I wanted to consume and found it rather bitter.
Finally unfortunately I couldn't consume the coconut shake as I am allergic to nuts including coconut so was sure to steer clear from testing this one, although I did make a friend give it a go, and she wasn't too impressed. 

I found the breakfast shakes to be very light and filling but wouldn't keep me going till lunch and would definitely need something to snack on... This is where the grapes come in handy. The shakes were quick to make in less than 3 minutes, creamy and light. All shakes are made with water and ice and don't forget to add your straw. 6/10
Creamy Coconut Shake
My next breakfast product I was keen to try, was the breakfast Maple syrup pancakes. The maple syrup pancakes were fairly easy to make, again needing to just add water and cook in a frying pan for a few minutes each side until golden. I just had to add a hint of sugar to the top to give it the perfect finished look. I was very impressed with how the pancakes came out and they certainly taste like maple syrup, but due to it not actually being pancakes the texture can be a little off putting, it gets a definite 10/10 for flavour but only a 4/10 for texture. 
Maple Syrup Pancakes
The picture below may not look appetising but it actually didn't taste so bad, although I'm not sure if I would do it again. The packaging originally suggest dinner meals to be made in a microwave, but due to not knowing I would need one prior, I opted for cooking them all in my oven. They still turned out fine but probably would have been better in the microwave. The Shepard's pie had a unusual texture at the top but the filling was much better, which consisted of a rich gravy taste. I decided to add a few carrots and green beans to my meal in order to digest it all together. The Shepard's pie is a solid 5/10 this is because of the texture and due to needing a microwave.
Shepard's Pie
 The breakfast eggs were certainly not my cup of tea, I did not enjoy the texture nor the flavour. I was expecting the eggs to be similar to eggs but was more like a consistency of couscous, it had the same cooking time as the pancakes, adding water to the sachet (the same instruction for all meals) then  cooking in a frying pan with a little fry light until it was ready. I opted to adding some wholemeal fresh cut bread into the meal as I didn't think I would even get half way through this otherwise. Unfortunately the breakfast eggs score a low 4/10.
Breakfast Eggs
 The soups! I hate soup so none of the soups including the vegetable soup below or the tomato and basil that was sent was finished, only trialled. Following the same pattern, the soups were made by adding warm/hot water. The vegetable soup was very runny and tasted more like a broth with little bits of vegetable swimming around. Whilst the tomato and basil was very rich almost the same taste as the pizza kit sauce, although the tomato soup was thicker in consistency and looked a lot more like a soup. This score is a little bias as if I actually enjoyed soup it would probably be a lot higher, therefore I am unable to score the soups out of ten.
Vegetable Soup & Added Brown Bread
The Spaghetti bolognese, (although looking like spaghetti bolognese) tasted exactly like the Shepard's pie, but just with pasta added into the mix. As with all the dinner meals after adding water then the meal was meant to be added into the microwave, but as I don't own one I opted for putting it into the oven with my garlic bread. I found this hard to consume as it kept reminding me of the Shepard's pie. I topped the meal with sea salt and cheese, but it still wasn't what I had hoped it would be. 5/10
Spaghetti Bolognese
 The Pizza kit was rather difficult to make, as the base had to be measured and rolled out yourself which didn't have step by step directions nor how thin to roll the base. The pizza base was definitely a case of  trial and error at the beginning. But once I was able to get my head around consistency and making the perfect shape and base, the sauce was meant to be made in the microwave also but I choose to use the hob and then add to the base into the oven.  The sauce is a rich tomato and basil which smelt lovely from the oven but the base still had the unusual texture that I was starting to become familiar with. I topped the pizza with a little bit of cheddar cheese and a side of spinach in order to make a meal more suitable to what I would like. The pizza kit gets a 2/10 for the base and a 7/10 for the sauce (would be a higher score if there was more available)
Apart from the strawberry shake, I also thoroughly enjoyed the snacks and bars that was included in the box that was sent. The Choco balls (chocolate flavour protein snacks) exceeded my expectation and received a ultimate 10/10. They were perfect for pre and post workouts and before my boot-camp sessions. The protein snack had a crunchy consistency and is obviously a much healthier option then that of chocolate bars. It was perfect for me as it was easy to carry to workouts, simple and light snack. 
I also really enjoyed the snack bars that were sent to me. Hot cross bun bar and Double chocolate flavour bar. The Hot cross bun bar which was very chewy and tasted exactly like a hot cross bun in flavour. The Double chocolate bar tasted just as good full of flavour without actually being a chocolate bar at all, yay, so no need to worry about getting ill from the caffeine that can be found in chocolate. The consistency was perfect again perfect for pre workouts or when feeling rather peckish and needing a quick snack. This is a product I would certainly buy from a supermarket! 10/10. 

Although Exante Diet wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I really enjoyed their strawberry shake, and could easily have that everyday for breakfast. The snacks were great for pre and post workouts and the bars also just as good, it was the meals I wasn't too keen on due to the texture but the taste/flavour was edible. I have never been too keen on products like ready meals that need consistent cooking using a microwave as it takes away all the fun of cooking things from fresh, and microwaves can get rid of the vital nutrients in food.
I think I have come to the conclusion that meal replacement diets aren't going to work with me that well, neither do they ever help me to lose weight although I work out 3/4 times a week. I do think I can see myself buying protein snacks rich in vitamins and nutrients as well as the breakfast shakes as they were easy to digest. 

The Exante Diet has definite products I could buy into and some I just couldn't see myself trying again. I do think the diet would work  for others but on this occasion I just don't think it will work for me. 

Thank you to the Exante Team for sending over the product for me to trial.
What do you think of meal replacements and diet plans?

xx



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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Brighton Daze

Thursday marked the day of my 24th Birthday, which I had been dreading for the past few weeks. I decided to make a day of it in Brighton (nothing to flashy) accompanied by my mother and best friend. The only person I was missing was my ever so brilliant twin who couldn't make the day trip as he was performing at the Opera that day. 

As I woke up officially aged 24, I opened half of the presents I received with sore eyes, and started to reflect on my age. haha. One more year away from 25 goodness gracious. Luckily April showers kept at bay and the sun graced me with its appearance being tucked behind a quilt of velvety clouds. All I had to do was make my way to Victoria for my 9.30am train. After buying a good supply of Millies cookies and some breakfast, I was hit with the news that all trains to Brighton were cancelled. *What? Are they kidding me?* I was literally no longer in chill zone and started to regret even thinking about doing something about the day.  Our previous one hour long journey diverged into becoming a long winded trip to Timbuktu... I joke.  After boarding another train that was too terminated my patience started to wear out and it was only 10am. Luckily we was able to transfer to another train towards Brighton and Hove then jump on a rail replacement bus. 

As I heard the squawking of several uncleanly seagulls I knew we had finally reached sunny Brighton, we decided to head straight for the beach with our munchies in tow and relax taking in the hypnotizing waves and calm breeze. 
We then explored the streets of Brighton (I took a few snaps here and there which I hope you enjoy). After much shopping and walking around aimlessly we decided to have a spot of lunch, at the wonderful Burgers and Cocktails, who provided us with tremendous service and delicious food. I would recommend and definitely go back.  I opted for the basic beef burger with bacon and caramelised onions with a side of crinkled chips *reminiscent drool*, whilst Sarah my bestie enjoyed a chicken schnitzel with crinkle fries and coleslaw, and my mother devoured her own creation of beef burger with onions and avocado with a side of sweet potatoe fries.
After our delicious meal we continued to explore the streets of Brighton, passing through the lanes and appreciating the local graffiti art *I wish I could do that but all I can achieve is scribbles. Then headed towards the Brighton Dome and explored even more. I'm so glad we didn't get lost but it was a lovely time and the weather was even better, not too hot and not cold. It was even more special as my mother is considering moving down there so was nice to show her around a bit.
All in all I had a lovely time by the seaside and doing some shopping for some home-ware bits and bobs, which I am sure you will see in a haul over the next few weeks or so. We then jumped (not literally) on the train back to London which was running smoothly again and headed to my flat for food, drinks, presents and a much needed movie night. I have never been one for a big shindig and would much prefer a more laid back casual thing. 

Popping away from London for the day was lovely, I want to travel all over the UK as there is some amazing places in little old England etc that doesn't get much recognition. We don't always need to speak about America and all these other places when we have beautiful beaches and alike in the UK. And if you didn't know, *here's a spoiler for you* that is one thing that is on my bucket list, travelling and exploring the UK.

Thanks for having me Brighton on my special day, I'm sure you will see me again soon, very soon. 
But for now Brighton is just a distant memory, a Brighton Daze.

xx
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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Birthday Blues


I think it's official, as we pass the age of 21 birthdays don't seem as special as they once were. Whenever my birthday starts to approach, and we enter the bright fresh crisp mornings of Spring April the countdown begins to the day of my birth. Recently for the past few years I have continuously felt this daunting feeling as the day approaches. A feeling of uncertainty unravels a cloud of self doubt and procrastination drops into my atmosphere. I start to doubt everything I have achieved and feel as though it's just not good enough. Comparing myself to those who are also turning 24 and what they may have achieved in that time frame. The idea that at this age, I should be independent, in my chosen career and ticking off my bucket list or life plan is definitely not in motion. Is it weird to feel that time is running out and that's why I don't feel so happy to celebrate my birthday?

Not only is the self doubt fluttering in my mind like moths on crack but then there is this unknown pressure of what to do and how to celebrate your birthday, Everyone want's to know what is happening, As the day approaches people who you haven't spoken to since secondary school post on your unused tumble weed Facebook with HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOPE YOU HAVE A FAB DAY or the ones who haven't put all their heart into the post and choose to write the 3 letters HBD (wtf?), like we are the best of friends and have shared all our deepest darkest secrets on the phone with one another, when really they haven't a clue what you have been doing for the past eight or so years. Family relatives that you don't speak to suddenly come out of the tomb and realise your still alive. I'm not sure about you, but I have never really liked people that don't speak to me wishing me a happy birthday as it never seems genuine. 

Birthday blues is obviously more common than most think, and I certainly need to realise that it is more than normal for me to pause and threat whether my chosen path is going the way I wanted it to. I need to remember that actually everyone does have plans but they alter and change during our  journeys.When I was younger, I imagined that at this coming age I would be working in a successful career or running my own business, bought my own house or renting a pretty cool pad, being a socialite and driving. But in reality I'm going into my fourth year of university (fingers crossed) living in my rented one bedroom flat,working here and there, writing a blog in which I adore. And I am  most certainly not a socialite. The expectations I had created as a child was no where near the reality of what I knew I could achieve, now I'm not saying I couldn't be all the things in that list but my ten year old self had no idea how much houses cost or how hard it is to set up and run your own business. But realistically I am pretty happy where I am, right now in this space in time. It's a whole lot better than a few years ago and I'm content with that. 

It is curious as when my actual birthday is here I am not depressed and my blues goes away as I try and treat it as a normal day, ignore the anxieties the stress and the doubt I had been building up. 

So when next year approaches and the blossoms start to appear so too will my 25th birthday and the onset of my birthday blues. I will aim to come back to this post and laugh about all the reasons that cause me to ponder on another year.


xx
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Spring Edit: Birthday Wishlist

We can officially stop saying spring is around the corner, and enjoy the beautiful weather, with the birds singing and the bees humming (even though I am terrified of bees). Spring has always been my favourite month, when ''the weather is not too hot and not too cold, all you need is a light jacket''.  

So I decided to put together a small spring must have post, which could also be a birthday wishlist as my birthday is only a week away. So family and friends if your reading this and stuck for ideas. haha.

There isnt much more to say about this little beauty, you can see and read exactly what it is. I have been longing for the Miss Dior perfume for the longest time, and ever since I tested it at a counter, it has been on my wishlist ever since. And this spring 2015 it has to be mine.

White anything and everything really, crisp white clothes, trainers and shoes is perfect in spring and summer weathers as it makes you look so fresh and so clean. I haven't had my chance to pick up the white converses as I am always worried about getting them dirty but now is the time.

The perfect lipstick colour for this time of year, I absolutely love peach/coral lipsticks for spring and the colour compliments all skin tones so well. Estee Lauder is also one of my favourite brands for high-end makeup such as lipsticks and mascaras.

This is not necessarily a wishlist birthday item but definitely a spring must have, if you have had your brushes a while (regardless of washing them) upgrade them to the real techniques brand, very affordable and great brushes in general. I already have a few and would like to continue upgrading all my brushes with real techniques. 

Many of you may know I recently moved out of my hostel and into my very own one bedroom flat, and I was ecstatic to find out they were completely new flats fresh and I would be the first person to live there. I have been here now around two months and still in the process of buying things and getting the property to how I would like it as my home. My kitchen is the place I spend most of the time as when guests are coming over I love to cook, hence why the Kitchen Aid would be the perfect addition to the Shug household. Preferably in cream as that is the current theme.

And that's it. A few things i'm lusting for my birthday or things I might just treat myself with in the near future. 

xx
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Thursday, 2 April 2015

La Roche Posay Presents

After being invited to the La Roche Posay event just over a week ago at the Rook & Raven in Central London, it was a chance to learn all about La Roche Posay's 'Anthelios 2015' range. The Anthelios range has very high protection, specifically designed for those with sensitive skin which is recommended by dermatologists.

I have fallen in love all over again with sun-block. I have always been an avid user of sun protection, and if you know me, I'm that annoying person screaming from the roof tops not to forget your sun screen and the benefits of protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays. It has fallen into my routine to use sun protection everyday morning, noon, and night, winter, spring and summer, come rain sun or snow

Did you know skin cancer is the ninth most common cancer in the Europe. So during the event, La Roche Posay also officially launched their #skinchecker campaign, reminding everyone to look out for unusual moles that may pop up. If the mole is different in size and colour to other moles you have, it is a good idea to check it out with your GP.  Hence the creative link with the dalmatians, reminding you to 'spot the difference'.
La Roche Posay is number one for catering to all with a range of products for all skin types and skin tones. All though you may already be familiar with their current sun protection products. Here are a few from the new range recently launched. 

1. Anthelios Baby Demo-Paediatrics RRP £11.00
New to the baby range, La Roche Posay have presented us with a baby sun protection lotion with SPF50+. Enriched with Shea butter its texture helps to moisturise and soothe skin whilst creating that all important protective barrier. 

2. Anthelios Comfort Cream RRP £15.50
The new Anthelios Comfort Cream SPF30 or SPF50+  is infused with La Roche Posay's key antioxidant ingredient 'Baicalin' which helps to protect against the ageing effects of long UVA. Comfort Cream provides moisture to dry skin types, with a non sticky and non greasy formula, whilst protecting the skins surface against high UVB and UVA.

3. Anthelios BB Tinted  Comfort Cream RRP £15.50
BB Tinted Comfort Cream is specifically developed for sun sensitive skin to soothe, moisturise and illuminate and unify skin. Containing strong protection for the skin surface from both UVA and UVB. Boosting of its active ingredient Baicalin, Both of the Comfort range benefit from containing La Roche Posay's Thermal Spring Water to soothe the skin  as well as being paraben and fragrance free. 

4. Anthelios XL Ultra-Light  RRP £16.50
Anthelios XL Ultra Light provides a very high SPF50+ protection that feels weightless on the skins surface, making it effortlessly easy to glide on with its non greasy non oily texture, it provides the best protection for those with combination skin in the formation of a cream consistency.

5. Anthelios XL SPF50+ Protective Oil RRP £18.00
The Protective oil has a light weigh formula with very high protection from UVB and UVA even for sensitive and fairer skin tones. The light formula disappears into skin leaving a water resistant finish without the oily residue. 
To see the full range of products and to find what would be the best sun protection for your skin type head over to laroche-posay.co.uk

Skin cancer is the only cancer visible to the naked eye and if caught early enough 90% of  cases can be treated effectively. The evening gave a real good insight into sun care protection, the products La Roche Posay offer as well as giving in-depth talks about skin cancer and being aware of the signs and differences. 

Adding this additional step into our routines only takes a matter of seconds, so please add sun protection into your regime. 
Thank you to La Roche Posay. 

xx

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Battle of the cleansing milks

Escentuals recently ran an anonymous cleansing milk edit to see which would prevail over the rest. 100 beauty lovers (including myself) were put to the test to trial seven anonymous cleansing milks for over a period of 14 days.

Over the time span I trialled each product morning and night and wrote a few notes about what I liked and disliked of each. When the packaged arrived the anonymous cleaning milks were labelled  'Sample A-G' in small glass jars. This is what I thought of the cleansing milks before they were revealed, and then the reveal and result of what each cleansing milk received. 

Sample A
As this was my first cleansing milk of the whole trial I was pretty impressed in how well this worked with my skin. The scent and texture was luxurious and left my skin feeling delicately pampered refreshed hydrated and clean. Removed make-up with ease My Score 9/10 
Result: Guerlain 48.8% Would use it again 

Sample B
Sample B didn't win me over as much as Sample A but I was still delighted to use it, It didn't leave my skin completely hydrated but I can say it was gentle to my skin. Overall I wasn't greatly impressed but at least it never broke me out. My Score 6//10
Result: Clarins 35% Would use it again

Sample C
I did not enjoy this product at all, and I can say that mainly because I hardly wrote notes on it. Wasn't impressed with the smell and I think that is what put me off. My skin felt a little tight after use. My Score 3/10
Result: Caudalie 36.3% Would use it again

Sample D
After my terrible time with Sample C, I was happy to be trialling the next cleansing milk on the list. This sample was almost as enjoyable as the first the texture was silky and was very delicate on my skin. I love a cleansing milk that is silky to use and is easy to remove makeup. My Score 8/10
Result: Vichy 37.5% Would use it again

Sample E
Another lovely product to use, which I found very similar to Sample D in consistency and texture. Very light refreshing and cooling to the skin. Another cleansing milk that worked wonders with breaking down make-up! My Score 8/10
Result: Eucerin 38.8% Would use it again

Sample F
Unfortunately Sample F was definitely not for me, I was uncomfortable with the consistency in the jar even before using the product. It made my skin feel as though there was still product or residue sitting on my skin. Which I think is the reason why I broke out slightly on my cheeks. My Score 1/10, probably would work better for someone else. Had a nice smell. 
Result: NUXE 50% Would use it again

Sample G
At last another product I could use. Although I held off a day to let my breakout try and settle Sample G really helped with the soothing of the breakouts. Very refreshing kept skin soft, moisturised and plump, definitely battling for my number one spot against Sample A. My Score: 9/10
Result: La Roche Posay 61.3% Would use it again

The cleansing milk trial had to be submitted within the two week deadline and I was eager to await the results. Escentuals announced the cleansing milk edit over on their website and you can see the overall result below. 
Source: Escentuals.com
My two winners of the battle was the magnificent Guerlain and the ever so popular La Roche Posay. I should have known one of my favourite brands would have been in the line up and that it would be the one I would have liked best. After trialling the Guerlain luxurious cleansing milk, it has been officially popped onto my wishlist to purchase. And La Roche Posay well what can I say I already own quite a few of your products so i'm already obviously a fan girl. 

Although I may not of been fond of a few of the cleansing milks, this could have been due to them not being completely compatible for my skin type. So be sure to pop over to Escentuals.com to find the one that best suits you and for a more in-depth result.  

Overall on Escentuals the winner was La Roche Posay with an astonishing 60% of 100 beauty lovers willing to reuse the fabulous cleansing milk. 

Let me know if you find your perfect cleanser. and in your opnion who won that battle?


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