Tuesday, 25 June 2013

REVIEW: Voltz Energy Shot

I tested the Voltz Energy Shot today! It was quite an interesting experience, mainly because I didn't really expect it to do anything, so I was surprised with the results.

The product is a small, 60ml container of a berry flavour high caffeine shot with amino acids and vitamins that is supposed to give you rapid energy that lasts for hours. It is only 3 calories, so no harm in trying it, although the packet does say that results vary - hence my skepticism in trying it!

I decided to do a control week and then compare the results this week. So, last Tuesday and today I have cycled to work, done a full day's work, cycled to the gym, done the 45 minute aerobics and tone class, followed immediately by a 30 minute aerobics class. Next I cycled home, then half an hour later went out to do a big shop. A busy day! On today's test day, I drank the Voltz Energy Shot when I arrived at the gym, before my classes started.

The bottle is a little bit like a miniature shampoo bottle, so the neck isn't very effective for drinking from, you have to take quite tiny sips. The berry flavour is very synthetic, as you would expect, quite like one of the powder sports drinks you get, but it's not particularly unpleasant. Plus it's small so it's not a hardship to drink it all.

At first I didn't really notice a difference, but 2/3 way through the first class I noticed that I was still putting 100% effort in, which I was quite pleased with. Then, when the second class began I got straight on with it, no internal dialogue about whether it was a good time to go home after all! As that class continued I again noticed I was again putting in a lot more effort than I normally would by that stage, clearly my energy levels were up.

On the cycle home, which is uphill a lot of the way, I stayed in a much higher gear than normal, even up the biggest hill, which I don't think I've ever done before, let alone after so much other exercise. I got home and babbled a bit at The Boy, clearly still quite caffeinated, and then went to Tesco with no fuss. So in my opinion, I certainly got a good deal of extra energy that lasted a few hours. It is now around 6 hours since I drank the shot and while I am tired as it is my normal bed time, I am not experiencing any kind of crash or negativity. Which means I am really pleased with this product and would happily recommend it. I'd give it 9 out of 10 Extreme Points, purely because I'm not enamored with the flavour or the bottle!

I'm also testing the Voltz Rasberry Ketone at the moment, look out for that review soon. And in the meantime, if you'd like an exclusive 10% off Voltz products, just enter the code GK9GEQEMQ9 at their online shop. Don't say I never give you anything!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Duerr's Strawberry Jam Oat Squares

I just got sent a load of jars of Duerr's jam to try. Happy days, a family run brand, Duerr's is one of the oldest jam makers in the country and they are from Manchester - hooray! Great preserves from God's Own City. This is my first trial, using their strawberry jam, in honour of Wimbledon 2013 starting today. It's a recipe I've made up myself, with a loose relationship to my Strawberry and Coriander Crumble Slices - but even easier as there is just one mix involved!

Duerr's Strawberry Jam Oat Squares
Makes 9

Ingredients
100g sugar
100g butter (I used I can't believe it's not butter)
1 egg
Dash of vanilla essence
125g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
150g oats
170g (half a jar) of Duerr's Strawberry Jam

Method
  • Preheat your oven to 180'C.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until smooth.


  • Add the vanilla essence and egg and beat until combined.





  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth.
  • Add the rolled oats and combine until you have a very stiff batter.
  • Place two thirds of the mix in a greased baking tray.


  • Crumble the remaining mix over the top and bake on the middle shelf for about 25 minutes, or until the top starts to go golden brown.
  • Once cooked, take them out of the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing into 9 squares.







I am really pleased with how this recipe went. It's soft and moist, but with a slightly crunchy, crumbly top. The Duerr's jam is really delicious - a lovely strong strawberry flavour that reminds me of my Great Aunt's home made jam. It took me only 10 minutes to get these in the oven too, so they're a really quick and easy treat to make!

Amazingly, this recipe smashes its way in per serving as a 'sub 300 calorie' recipe - woo hoo!! If you can stop at one that is...

Nutritional Information per serving (recipe makes 9)
Calories 198
Fat 4.7g
Sat Fat 1g
Fibre 2.3g
Sugar 19g

Sunday, 23 June 2013

One week until the wedding!

Only one week to go until my sister in law gets married, and I have finally selected which dress I am going to wear. Surprisingly, it is only really tight around the bust, which isn't normally a problem for me!! However, since I got back from California, I've been trying hard to lose my holiday weight and look great for the wedding, hence the Proskins trial and so forth. 

It's been another pretty standard week for me, a mixture of healthy meals, lots of vegetables, and also a couple of eating out treats and a few evenings of drinking the odd glass of wine. Particularly fatty burger meal on Wednesday, countered with a relatively healthy homemade moussaka today. I've been to the gym several times, step on Monday, aerobics and tone followed by another aerobics class on Tuesday, a 18 mile cycle on Wednesday, aerobics on Thursday and circuits on Saturday morning. All complimented by the usual 7 mile round trip daily cycle commute to work. 

My measurements are showing a maintain this week, which is good although I would prefer another inch or two off my waist to get back to where I was. I'm starting to notice some good tone in my arms though, which I am pleased about!

Measurements:
Waist: 29"
Hips: 35"

So this week, I'll be mostly packing in as many gym classes as I can to get that last little bit of toning in before the wedding - no doubt pictures to follow next week!





#silentsunday


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bloglovin claim

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Why not? What else could you ask for from your Sunday evening?

Day 28 of the Proskins Challenge

I have come to the end of my Proskins 28 Day Challenge. It's been another mixed week for me, I've had some fantastic and naughty meals out, but I've also done a lot of cycling and been to the gym three times including having a go at the advanced step class for the first time. I've been wearing my Proskins leggings a mixture of overnight and then at the gym/in the evenings.  I must confess that I didn't have chance to wear them a couple of days this week, but that was interesting as it showed that my soft skin from the Proskins did stay when I wasn't immediately wearing them.

Final measurements:
Waist - 29" (lost 2 inches)
Hips - 35" (lost 1 inch)
Thigh 21.5" (lost 0.5 inch)
Calf 14"
Ankle 8.25" (lost 0.25 inch)

Before




So it's a pretty good result I think. The Proskins leggings are of a good enough quality that they could stand up well to the semi continuous wearing over the 28 day period. The most noticeable effect was the softening and slight tightening of the skin on the thigh. I am undecided on the slimming aspect of the Proskins as I was doing enough exercise that it may just have been a contributing factor, but I am certainly happy with the reduction in my waist measurement over the period and I think you can see the difference in my before and after photos.

If I keep on track all should be well for looking fabulous for my sister in law's wedding in a fortnight!!





#silentsunday


Monday, 10 June 2013

Top Tips for New Cyclists

By now, everyone knows that I love cycling. I have been commuting daily since February 2012 and I have had The Tank, my two wheeled baby, since October 2012 and I simply couldn't be happier with the whole thing. However, that's not to say being a cyclist is easy. Car drivers hate you, pedestrians hate you, sometimes even other cyclists can be downright rude in your direction. But that is not to say you shouldn't perservere. In fact, if you're thnking of taking up cycling, think of the benefits to your health, the environment and your wallet, ignore the nay sayers and follow my top introductory tips!

The Tank
  • Get a high visibility jacket - if you forget your light (tip 2 - don't forget your light) and it goes dark on you, you still have some protection and even on a sunny day it may be hard to appreciate how hard you are to see. From the front or rear you are very narrow!!
  • If you haven't already, get a bell
  • Make eye contact with motorists when you are turning out at a junction or using a crossing. If you haven't made eye contact, assume they haven't seen you, it's much safer that way.
  • Observe traffic lights. Nothing pisses me off more than cyclists who ignore them and the same goes for all other road users. Not only is it arrogant, it's also stupid. Traffic lights are there to safely control traffic flow, have some respect.
  • Get some GOOD waterproofs. I used to have some 'waterproof' trousers which were in reality 'borderline splashproof'. This led to soaking clothes by the time I got to work, not to mention the soaking wet arse in the days before I had a decent rear mudguard. However, once you get decent wet weather gear, you'll find it takes up no space in your pannier so is easy to carry round and you'll be happy to travel whatever the weather - just peel off your gear when you arrive and off you go! I find in a heavy downpour I now get to work in a better state than when I used to get the bus.
  • Get some cycling gloves - they give you extra grip and you can get surprisingly cold fingers even on a warm day! Additionally, last summer I got the worst cyclists tan with tanned back of hands but white fingers from where I gripped the handlebars. It just looks stupid, so I'm avoiding that this year.
  • And on that note, remember your sunblock. You're outside ALL THE TIME now, don't put your skin at risk.
  • If you get your grocery shop on the bike for the first time, be really aware of where your centre of gravity is. Heavy baskets or panniers really change how you ride, so take it steady.
  • Remember, even if you're riding perfectly safely in a cycle lane, there will still be pedestrians walking down it, not looking where they're going. Assume every pedestrian has absolutely no spatial awareness and you'll do fine.


Have a little lie down after a long ride
So that's it. I'm no expert, but these are things that have helped me a bit and I hope they help you a bit. I absolutely love cycling now and I wouldn't be without it - walking is sooooooo sloooooow!

HELP ME! Veet EasyWax

Evening all! I am a BzzAgent and got selected to join the Veet EasyWax campaign to try their new electrical roll on home waxing kit for myself and then to tell you all about it and show off my super smoothness to anyone who'll have a look. It's really easy too - all I have to do is plug it in, warm it up, roll it on, pull it off…then enjoy four weeks of beautifully smooth skin. 


Except I have a problem, I've wussed out. I want the aforementioned beautifully smooth skin, but I'm not sure I can do to myself. The last time I got waxed was in India in 2009 and I got my armpits done. It tickled like a baddun' when they put the wax on and stang like billy'o when they ripped it off.... So what do I do?

I have read my beginners guide to waxing guide, I have had a stern talking to myself that ladies all over the everywhere are getting waxed without being ridiculous, but I think I need the support that only the bloggosphere can give when it comes to waxing myself.

The kit looks great, really easy to use, easy to keep clean, reusable with easy refills... There's a good reason they called it EasyWax I reckon. This is my perfect waxing opportunity. And the weather's great to show off my smoothability. HELP ME - my extreme housewife powers are fading....
(Happily if anyone wants to help me out by trying it for themselves and telling me how awesome and painless it was, then you can go to Amazon, input the code EASYWAX4 and you will get 50% off making this electrical kit for legs and arms a stonking £7.50 with free UK delivery - no need to thank me!)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Day 21: Proskins 28 Day Challenge

This week I have been mostly wearing my Proskins in bed. This has resulted in an increased urgency to wee in the morning, which I have been told is due to their detoxifying effect. I would imagine it's certainly something to do with the caffeine content that the microcapsules are releasing into my body.

My eating regime has not been particularly good this week, although I have made the effort to snack less. I have been to the gym just twice this week, but have done quite a lot of cycling around the city to make up for it, in fact we're off out for a bike ride in a minute... So I'm not expecting miracles... Let's measure:

Waist 29.5" 
Hips 36"
Thigh 21.5"
Calf 13"
Ankle 8.25"

SO not a huge change, but still another 0.5" off my waist, which is very much progress in the right direction! I wonder if I can get that last inch or so off my waist this week - must try harder!!






#SilentSunday


Saturday, 8 June 2013

REVIEW: Talisman Prologue Premium Edition

When I found out a month ago that fellow Warringtonians, Nomad Games had made classic Games Workshop board game Talisman into a computer game I nearly fell off my chair. This was my absolute favourite childhood game, we spent whole weekends sat around the dining room table playing this over and over again. In fact, it puts me in mind of one time that we were playing it and I literally did fall off my seat, for no apparent reason. I still don't know what happened to this day but everyone laughed heartily for what felt like hours.


Anyway, enough of this chair falling offery. Naturally I got in touch with Nomad Games straight away and begged for a review copy to indulge my nostalgia. And they agreed! I downloaded it and was immediately greeted with an old friend - the warrior fighting a fire breathing dragon and the old logo, made all digital and shiny. I was excited.

They tell us that: 'In the Talisman board game, your primary goal is to reach the Crown of Command 
at the centre of the board and then kill off all of the other players.
Everything you do along the way is designed to help or hinder your progress, 
but the goal always remains the same. 
In Talisman Prologue, we’ve created a questing system using the same rules as the board game, 
but with one major difference – it’s ALWAYS your go! 
Your goals will change from quest to quest, creating a great fantasy story along the way.'

Launch Screen
I was right to be excited. This isn't just an adaptation of a classic board game, turned into a platform game experience, it is the board game faithfully recreated, but in Talisman Prologue reincarnated with a quest focus so that it is single player. For those of you wanting the full Talisman experience, Talisman DE Multiplayer game is under development as we speak, so not long to wait now happily!

So the game play is simple. You pick a character (at first only the Warrior training quest is available - you unlock more characters and quests as you complete more quests) and make your way around the board, picking up adventure cards to encounter enemies, gather followers, collect objects or have other experiences. The quests encourage you to learn about the finer points of your characters abilities, e.g. the warrior having two dice to roll in combat, so you can select the higher result, or the trolls ability to regenerate a life instead of moving when you roll a 6.

Everything is really simple to use and understand, the dice figure flashing when it's time for you to roll, or the deck of cards flashing when you need to pick a card and face a new encounter. It's just like playing the original board game, except you don't need a giant dining table to play it on and your additional strength modifer cards are remembered by your clever computer and not knocked on the floor or stolen by your brother when you go to the toilet.

Fight!
I've been playing it for a few weeks now and I can confirm that the gameplay is smooth, it's very true to the original game (the first time I got the Cursed By A Hag card it made me snort with the delicious nostalgia of it all, now I'm desperate to find the Mule card so I can carry more objects). It's pretty addictive and stays fresh and interesting as you unlock more quests and characters as you go on. The only thing I find a little annoying is that each time you start a new quest, you have to start from scratch with your basic strength and craft and no objects or followers - part of the fun of the original game was building up your character throughout the game - but I suppose that this will be more of a feature of the multiplayer game when that is released.

It's been fun to learn about the different characters and their particular abilities, which make the game more rich and varied, making each quest experience very different. Your score for each quest is determined by how many turns it takes you to complete the objective, scoring you out of three, so you can also go back to any level you have completed and retake it to try and beat your score. While there is a lot of 'luck of the draw' in the cards you pick, there are also the same elements of strategy from the original game that make this a lot of fun and really engaging.


I absolutely recommend this game. You can buy it for PC, iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The PC version is currently a very reasonable £5.99 for the standard edition or £7.99 for the premium. The mobile game is available through the App Store for £2.99. I am more than happy to give Talisman Prologue 10 out of 10 Extreme Points and a big thumbs up. I've been addicted for a few weeks now, and with 50 quests currently available I will still be kept happy for many more pleasant gaming hours. If you want to try before you buy, why not have a go at the demo?

Sunday, 2 June 2013

#silentsunday





Day 14 of the Proskins 28 Day Challenge

it more of a successful week this week - I've been out on the bike as usual, done a series of aerobics and tone, a long swim and more aerobics and continued to wear my Proskins. Slight impact on the measurements now and still feeling comfortable in the Proskins. They're holding up to the daily wear well and still look like new.

Day 14 measurements:
Waist 30" (1" off)
Hips 36"
Thigh 21.5"
Calf 13.5" (0.5" off)
Ankle 8.25" (0.25" off)

I think the skin on my legs is definitely softer and it feels slightly firmer too, so I am pretty happy with that. It's made my legs more pleasant to the touch especially at the top of my thighs which can be a bit rough from all the cycling so that's quite a nice improvement for me. They also help you to regulate your temperature so you don't get too hot wearing them which is a definite bonus when wearing them to an aerobics class!

Remember all of this has undergone scientific testing at Loughborough, so has slightly more factual basis than other products of these types.


Micro-encapsulated yarn
Proskins SLIM is constructed using patented micro-encapsulated yarn. These microcapsules are released in a controlled way throughout the lifetime of the garment.
Temperature regulating
Garments are temperature regulating to optimise body temperature independently and regulate to 37 degrees Celsius.
Anti-bacterial and odour reduction
Garments also have a silver anti-bacterial treatment for extended wear, odour reduction and improved garment lifetime.

Caffeine
A renowed active slimming agent that activates micro-circulation and promotes fat destruction
Retinol
A skin regenerator which stimulates collagen, giving a youthful appearance to the skin
Vitamin E
An antioxidant that helps the skin appear young and fresh



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