Monday, 31 March 2014

Review | Exante Diet

I'm a girl that loves her food (and as a consequence could really do to lose some weight) so when I was offered the opportunity to try products from the Exante Diet, a total meal replacement company, I was intrigued, but approached this one with no small amount of trepidation.

A selection of the meal replacement products I received from the Exante Diet
 
What is the Exante Diet?
After having a good read of the Exante Diet website it quickly became obvious that this was not a catch all meal replacement and that there were several options available to suit different lifestyles.  From VLCD (very low calorie diet) plans at 600 calories a day, to LCD (low calorie diet) options with up to 1200 calories a day, each plan on the Exante Diet is designed to put your body into ketosis, essentially encouraging your body to burn its fat reserves when it gets fewer calories than it requires.

My Exante Diet Plan
For my personal circumstances, and taking into account the fact I have epilepsy, I quickly discovered the the only viable option for me (based on the advice on the Exante Diet website) was the Simple Solution plan.  This version of the plan allows the highest number of calories in a day (1200) and consists of the three meal replacement products amounting to a total of 600 calories and one low carb meal amounting to 600 calories.

The Products
The meal replacement products I received as part of my plan included lots of shakes (the flavours were toffee caramel, banana, blueberry, vanilla and strawberry), two packs of porridge and four hot meals (a mushroom soup, two curries and a spaghetti bolognaise).

The shakes were on the whole very pleasant, I really enjoyed the vanilla, strawberry and blueberry flavours, but the toffee caramel and banana weren't my favourites.  The porridge was also quite nice, it reminded me very much of the consistency of those instant porridge packs I used to eat as a kid, not bad at all!

The hot meals unfortunately were all a bit of a miss for me; the spaghetti bolognaise didn't taste bad but I just really didn't like the texture of the soy mince and the sauce.  I had similar experiences with both the curry and the soup I was sent too, they just weren't to my taste at all.

How I got on with the plan
My first admission here has to be that I didn't manage a full week on the plan, instead I managed three days.  When it quickly became obvious that I didn't like the hot meals I realised I wouldn't have enough meal replacements for an entire week and so I did the best I could with the variety that I had.

Day one was perhaps the most challenging on the plan, I woke up feeling instantly hungry, I was definitely dwelling on the idea that I wasn't having any solid food but once I got to work and was busy I didn't feel hungry at all until lunchtime and my next meal replacement.  One further meal replacement later (and admittedly some more hunger pangs when I got bored and distracted), followed by a lovely 600 calorie dinner of lean roast pork with some vegetables and a salad left me feeling completely satisfied.  Thinking about how my day had gone later that evening it really hit home how a lot of my hunger didn't feel genuine, it was really my habit of eating lots of food, and then occasionally being bored that made me want to eat something.  After this days two and three were far more successful, I had my meal replacements and didn't feel genuinely hungry until my evening meal and again felt completely satisfied after that.

My results
I both weighed and measured myself before starting the plan, and at the end of three days my measurements hadn't changed but I had lost 2lbs.  Granted, this wasn't as much as the losses I'd read some people had, but I was pretty happy with that to say the least.  I would have liked to continue the plan for a bit longer, but I didn't have much of a variety of products left and knew I would get bored with it.

If I decide to try this plan longer term, I will definitely get a much wider range of products, there are lots to choose from on the Exante Diet website, and from as little as £3.87 per day for meal replacements, I don't think the cost is too prohibitive for me.

You can read all about the Exante Diet on their website, here.

Have you tried any meal replacement diets before?  I'd love to hear how you got on with them, leave me a comment to let me know.

Sharon x

*PR Sample

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Angela Parkinson Facials

When I was asked recently if I wanted to review a treatment with Angela Parkinson, a fantastic facialist based in York, I absolutely jumped at the chance.  I don't often get to treat myself to facials and in fact I've only have about half a dozen in my life, but I really do believe in the benefits of them, and like so many beauty bloggers I love having an opportunity for a pamper. 

Blake House, St Martin's Lane, York

The Setting
Angela's salon space is based in Blake House, an absolutely beautiful restored Georgian townhouse on a side street in the Micklegate area of York, on Martin's Lane to be exact.  (On a sidenote, if you're not familiar with this area it's well worth having a bit of exploration, it's chock full of independent retailers offering fashion, gifts and beauty, and has a few bars and restaurants thrown in too).


Blake House, St Martin's Lane, York


It has that typically grand feeling of similarly restored buildings of it's age, but is fantastically quirky, with a bright purple door, a gold fox door knocker (I'm seriously coveting this) and in the hallway has perhaps the most interesting floor I think I've ever seen.


Blake House, St Martin's Lane, York


The treatment room itself is a wonderful little oasis of tranquility, decorated in warm taupes and whites, it felt instantly relaxing and soothing.


Treatment Room - Angela Parkinson Facials

The Facialist
Angela was very quick to put me at ease when I arrived at Blake House, she was completely professional but very warm and calm, and was a veritable font of knowledge on the subject of all things beauty and skincare.  Angela's background is in film and television makeup, but as someone who has always had a passion for skincare she decided to pursue the idea of setting up her own business (I'm so very pleased she did!).  Angela uses the Sothys skincare range exclusively in her treatments, a brand that I had not heard a great deal about before, but one that she is completely passionate about using on her clients.


Sothy's Skincare - Angela Parkinson Facials

The Treatment
There are a range of treatments on offer at Angela's salon, you can pick one from the options available or discuss any specific needs and get something more personally prescribed.  As I tend to have fairly normal for the most part I opted for the oxygenating facial; it started as you would expect with a deep cleanse and tone, and slowly but surely moved on to an exfoliating treatment, followed by a mask with the most intriguing texture (like one of those peel off masks you had when you were a kid, but much thicker) and finished with a luscious serum.  Each product Angela used, as well as obviously being very effective, had the most amazing fruity scent, with more than a hint of fresh grape and pear.


Sothy's Skincare - Angela Parkinson Facials


At various stages through the treatment, my skin was treated to the most wonderful facial massage and at other times was soothed and warmed with hot towels.  By the time the treatment was over I was probably the most relaxed I have been in a very long time, and my skin felt extraordinarily comforted.


Sothy's Skincare - Angela Parkinson Facials

Would I recommend a visit to Angela Parkinson Facials?
Without a shadow of a doubt, I would love to visit Angela and have a facial or other treatment again; my skin felt great afterwards and I was particularly taken with the skincare range that was used on me, and love the idea that if I find something that really works for me from the range I can also purchase it from Angela.  There are a few special occasions coming up for my family this year, so I'd love to be able to treat a few people to one of these facials, I think my Mam in particular would love it.

You can find out about the range of treatments Angela offers on her website, here.  You can also find her on Twitter, here.

Do you go for facials or massages very often?  What treatments are your favourite?

Sharon x

Saturday, 1 March 2014

February 2014 Favourites

I can't even remember the last time I did a favourites post so I thought that as I'd been trying and loving a lot of new things in 2014, it was about time I did one again.

MAC Eyeshadow Pro Palette

MAC Pro Palette (here) - I finally took the plunge and bought a 15 pro palette from MAC in February.  Despite having a couple of quads already (in various colours) I found myself wanting a bit easier access to more of my nude shades.  As you can see the palette isn't full yet but it's well on the way.  By the way, any suggestions for colours I should add to this would be gratefully received.  So far I have Carbon, Embark, Handwritten, Mulch, Wedge, Grain & Brule.

Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream, Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm

Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream (here) - This pot of moisturiser from Trilogy is actually nearly finished and I'll definitely be repurchasing.  It's a fantastic daily moisturiser for me, it has a fairly creamy consistency, sinks into the skin with no problems and leaves my rather thirsty skin feeling well hydrated.  It also acts as a great base for my next favourite.
Nars Sheer Glow Foundation (here) - Still my most reached for foundation.  This is my third bottle of this now and I can't imagine being without it.  It gives me great medium coverage, and lasts well enough for an entire day at work without looking cakey.
Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask (here) - There's no doubt about it, I'm head over heels for this face mask.  It's full of beautiful ingredients that make it a great multi-tasker (not to mention it smells amazing), I've found it brilliant for softening and plumping up my skin, it also seems to stop any little breakouts in their tracks too.  I'll definitely be reviewing this in full soon.
Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm (here) - I've got to thank two people for my discovery of this beauty of a lip balm, firstly Ruth at SweetPBeauT for recommending it to me, and secondly my lovely fiance for spotting it on my Pinterest wish list and getting it for my birthday.  I like quite a few lip balms, but I've never come across one quite as moisturising as this; full review coming soon.

Aveda Hand Relief and Batiste Dry Shampoo Tropical

Aveda Hand Relief (here) - This was my most used hand cream for quite a few years, but somehow I forgot about it until I received this tube as a stocking filler at Christmas.  It's incredibly rich, so not a hand cream I'd use during the day, but it's perfect to slather on my hands before bed.  Not only does it smell amazing, fruity but not too sweet, but it's full of antioxidants and is claimed to improve the elasticity of skin over time.
Batiste Dry Shampoo (here) - I won't ramble too much about Batiste Dry Shampoo as I think we all know it's virtues, I will tell you why I love this variety in particular though.  In the middle of this rather grey winter, the tropical coconut scent gives me a little reminder of summer, I'm just hoping we have a good one this year!

That's it for my first favourites post of 2014, have you tried any of these products?  What have you been loving so far this year?

Sharon x
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