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Review: The Body Confidence Program

I finished The Body Confidence Program two weeks ago, just in time to celebrate my birthday looking slimmer and feeling more confident about myself!

The 8-week program went much faster than I had initially thought and in the end the protein-rich meal plans were easy to follow and kept me full.

When you start the program you submit your ‘before’ photos and measurements online then at the end of every week you update your measurements. You’re allowed to weigh yourself at the start, but then you focus on the inches you’re reducing and not how much weight you’re losing. It’s very motivating, especially at the start when the inches reduce more quickly, to see your numbers getting smaller!

There are weekly conference calls with Ru-Tee, the founder of the program, where you discuss your progress and any issues you’ve faced with the other people doing it. Unfortunately the 30 minutes allocated wasn’t always enough for everyone to say what they wanted.

Initially, the recipes are limited, but as you complete each week, more recipes become available and give you more choice. Most of them are quick to make and give you leftovers you can adapt into a yummy lunch the next day. Most are also family friendly so you don’t need to make other meals for the rest of your family.

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I followed the first week’s meal plan exactly but then adapted the others to fit in more with my tastes and my family’s. I also started making recipes in bulk to freeze so I didn’t have to cook so much. People who aren’t used to cooking every day may find this aspect of the program challenging.

Having one cheat day a week where you can eat whatever you want is a big positive of the program. Some weeks I really needed it, particularly if going out, but as the weeks passed I didn’t feel so much of a need to cheat.

The focus of the program is getting your diet right first and then getting your exercise right. Ru-Tee says the focus should be 80% on diet and only 20% on exercise and doesn’t believe in exercising every day, which was perfect for me! You get a good number of exercise ideas which are added to as the weeks progress or you can decide yourself what exercise to do. Every week there are also new articles to read which helps make sense of what you’re doing as well as educating you about staying healthy.

The biggest disappointment for me doing the program was that for the price (£450 for the eight weeks and then £29.99 per month for the maintenance program), I was expecting more personal support and feedback, for example a one-to-one weekly support call or longer more individual feedback after submitting my updated measurements. While I enjoyed the support from others doing the program via the private Facebook group, I wanted more expert individual support.

Money-Back-Guarantee-slant

Having said that, the program works! I reduced by more than what is guaranteed. Ru-Tee says you’ll reduce by two jean sizes, which is 16 inches over your whole body and I achieved slightly more than that by the end of week 4; I reduced by a bit more than 22 inches by the end of the 8 weeks.

After finishing the program I’ve continued cooking many of the recipes and will continue to do so.

If you want to drop a jeans size or two and are interested in doing The Body Confidence Program you can use the code ‘FRIENDS1402’ to get £50 off.

Disclosure: I was very lucky to do The Body Confidence Program for free in exchange for documenting my progress. My opinions are honest and my own.

Read my update halfway through the program here.

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The Body Confidence Program – halfway update

Woohoo! I’ve completed 4 weeks of The Body Confidence Program!

It’s actually gone really quickly and so far (I have another 4 weeks to go) it’s been a very positive experience.

The Body Confidence Program is all about living a healthier and more confident lifestyle. The aim of the 8-week program is to help you kick-start your way to achieving this while giving you more body confidence.

Ru-tee Block, a former Adidas model, designed The Body Confidence Program and leads you through the 8 weeks. She has combined her knowledge being in the health and fitness industry for 25 years with her experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach together with years of study of the human body. She’s spent the last few years perfecting her program.

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What initially attracted me to the program was the guarantee of losing 2 jean sizes. As I recently confided, over the last year my weight has steadily increased. Stress has made me turn to food and this comfort eating has not only piled on the kilos but has left me feeling lethargic and not good about myself, which has made me stressed and the cycle continued. I knew I had to do something, but needed an extra external push.

Ru-Tee’s program gives you weekly menus to follow (the recipes are very easy and also usually quick to prepare) which change so you don’t get bored, there’s a weekly support call and a closed Facebook group where you can share how you’re going with others doing the program. There are also regularly updated articles, tips and exercises to keep you motivated while understanding the change you’re making to your lifestyle.

Of course, changing your lifestyle isn’t a walk in the park. It’s common to be very grumpy and irritable the first week as you go without carbs, gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine. The first few weeks have reminded me of the Dukan diet – loads of protein with some vegetables and very little fruit. It’s a good way to start reducing your body fat but it can also leave your body craving the not so healthy food we often fill it with! The second morning of the program I woke up with a massive headache that felt like the worst hangover I’d had in a long time; thankfully that was the worst I felt for the first week.

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I missed sugar the most during the first few weeks. Surprisingly, being a coffee snob, I can live without it. The only other thing I struggled with (and continue to) is having a protein-heavy breakfast.

I never feel able to eat anything but a light breakfast, so not only having to eat bacon and eggs or spinach frittata but also having to cook them first thing has been a struggle!

The biggest positive for me is being able to have one cheat day a week. Yes, once a week you can eat whatever you want! It’s perfect if you’re going out or have a special occasion and it seems like most people doing the program make the absolute most of their cheat day, especially during the first weeks!

I really like having all my meals planned out for the week. I know what I need to buy and usually the extra cooked protein from a dinner will be made into something else very quickly for the next day’s lunch. Each week more recipes are added so you have more variety. I’ve enjoyed most of the recipes – they’re tasty, definitely not boring and fill you up. There are also many family-friendly recipes so you don’t need to cook different meals for other family members. I’ll definitely keep using many of them in the future.

BUT the biggest positive of the program for me is that it works. Losing 2 jean sizes over the 8 weeks is equivalent to losing a total of 16 inches from your body. After 4 weeks my body has already reduced by 17.5 inches! I’m getting back into my old slimmer clothes and feeling so much more confident about myself. It’s gotten easier every week and I can’t wait to see how good I feel in another 4 weeks!

Disclosure: I’m very lucky to be doing The Body Confidence Program for free in exchange for documenting my progress. My opinions are honest and my own.

Taking better care of myself (The Body Confidence Program)

There are many reasons we don’t take care of ourselves and if you’re a mum, that list of reasons is definitely longer!

I could tell you about my upbringing; being a minister’s daughter, putting other people’s needs and feelings first was drummed into me. I could tell you about struggling with depression after my daughter’s death which led to me not loving myself. I could tell you about our very stressful house renovations that went from a few months to a year making me comfort eat. I could tell you a lot of things that have led me to not putting myself first (or second, or third, or…) and feeling very negative about myself. BUT…

… in the end all of these reasons are irrelevant. What IS important is the realisation that I HAVE to take better care of myself, no excuses!

Not taking care of myself means that the weight has piled on, my energy levels have diminished and, for the first time ever, I’m feeling my age. While making sure my family eat healthily is a priority and I love experimenting with the healthier versions of recipes I post here, I often grab the easiest thing to eat on the run (which usually isn’t the healthiest).

But no more excuses. And to help me put myself first I’ve signed up to The Body Confidence Program. It’s an 8-week program that focuses on following a healthy lifestyle without having to count calories or exercise every day. There’s lots of support and the guarantee you’ll drop two jean sizes if you follow it properly. It sounds like the perfect solution for me!

Day 1 starts tomorrow, so today I’ve been enjoying the foods that aren’t allowed (bread, cheese, salami and also coffee). But the great thing is, especially for someone like me who rebels against restricted diets after a while, is that you’re allowed one cheat day a week when you can eat whatever you like (and thank goodness for that!).

Please wish me luck. I’ll post regular updates of my progress (and, when I’m brave enough, the ‘before’ shots I’ve taken).

Here’s to a healthier and happier life, not just for those I take care of but for the most important person – ME!

Disclosure: I’m very lucky to be doing The Body Confidence Program for free in exchange for documenting my progress. My opinions are honest and my own.

Review: Culture Vulture measuring spoons

When I have to rustle up meals for my family I don’t worry very much about precise measures or amounts. My day-to-day style of cooking is definitely ‘it’ll be fine’ or ‘I think this is what I did last time’. But then I get into trouble.

If it turns out well and I want to share it with you, my lovely readers, I can’t say ‘just add a smidgen of this and a dash of that, oh and don’t forget a pinch of salt’.

Well actually now I can! The lovely people at Culture Vulture have found exactly what I need, measuring spoons that can measure a smidgen, a pinch and a dash.

image_3Based in rural Cumbria, Culture Vulture are experts in sourcing unusual home furnishings and gifts, celebrating the creativity of artisans from around the world, from kitchen and dining ware to furniture and home accessories, from clothing and jewellery to food . In their online catalogue you can find the most wonderful gifts for foodies, including ceramic pots of Mediterranean sea salt, fig flavour pearls, Calabrian liquorice jellies, French Kir syrups and even a cheese-making kit.

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The smidgen measuring spoons would make a great stocking filler for the foodie in your life. While they’re a fun gift, being silver-plated they feel high quality in your hand. They come tied together on a leather cord with a cute floral hook to hang them on your wall.

It’s a shame that the attention to detail and cuteness doesn’t extend to the packaging which is quite plain, especially for an item that would mostly be bought as a gift. However, these are by far the cuteness kitchen accessory I’ve seen in a long while.

Culture Vulture Smidgen Measuring Spoons

Now if only I could get all of you to buy them…

Have you decided what you’re buying the foodies in your life for Christmas?

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Culture Vulture. My opinions are honest and my own.

Ozeri Elite Chef Ceramic 3-Piece Knife Set Review and Giveaway

Elite Chef ceramic knife set by OzeriI was very happy to get the chance to review another Ozeri kitchen product as I’m still in love with my Ozeri frying pan. I was also very curious to try ceramic bladed knives for the first time.

The set of three knives are beautifully packaged in a stylish black box, which make them perfect to give as a gift. Inside the knives are nestled in foam to protect their ceramic blades.
Foam packaging for Ozeri Elite Chef ceramic knife set

The 100% ceramic blades are light and ultra-sharp, and keep their razor-sharpness ten times longer than the more common steel blades. They also won’t corrode or rust.

The ergonomic handles are rubberised making them extremely comfortable to use and you feel you have a solid grip.

review and giveawayThe three sizes are pretty much all you need. There is a 3″ paring knife perfect for slicing and cutting fruit, a 5″ slicing knife for your medium cutting jobs such as vegetables, and a 6″ chef knife for easily gliding through larger vegetables and boneless meats.

I’ve been using all three knives for a month now and am very happy with them. They cut with ease and glide through everything I’ve thrown at them. They’re lightweight while also feeling top quality in your hand. I’m very happy with my first experience of ceramic blades.
Back of packaging for Ozeri's Elite Chef ceramic knife set

You need to wash them by hand, because the ceramic blades are more fragile than steel ones, and so there’s the possibility of them chipping. In our house we don’t put good knives in the dishwasher anyway in order to keep blades sharp so this isn’t an issue, but I do have one disappointment related to the blades.

Having to take extra care with the ceramic blades, it would have been great to have individual covers to protect the blades. My other favourite set of knives have them and it would mean I could keep my Ozeri knives in my cutlery drawer with their blades safe rather than storing them in the original packaging, which takes up a lot more space. But this is just one little gripe.

Overall the Elite Chef ceramic knives are elegant, lightweight and top quality, exactly what you’d expect from Ozeri. As a set of three the RRP of £59.99 is reasonable (they’re currently £49.99 on Amazon).

However, I’m  very happy that one of you will get to try out these ceramic knives for her or himself! I have one set to give away from the lovely people at Ozeri to one of my lovely readers (just those in the UK, sorry).

All you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you’d love to have your own set of ceramic knives.

Leave your comment before 9pm (GMT) on Tuesday 9 September 2014. Please make sure you leave a way for me to contact you such as a blog link or email address. Remember you need to live in the UK.

I’ll pick the winner at random on Wednesday 10 September 2014. If I’m unable to contact the winner within a week, I’ll pick someone else.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I was sent the Ozeri Elite Chef ceramic 3-piece knife set to review. My opinions are honest and my own.

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

Update 10/09/14 – And the winner is…

Ozeri Knife Competition Result

Congratulations Gillian! I’ve emailed you.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered x

Review: Nurture drinks by Mune Health

I’m a mummy who’s never been overly concerned about keeping the environment completely sterile for little ones, instead believing that exploring the world with some freedom can help build up a child’s protective antibodies. And whether it’s this or simply luck, we’ve been very lucky that Nicholas is a very healthy boy.

Since he’s been going to pre-school every day though, he regularly catches colds. Nothing serious, but then we all tend to catch them off each other!

With the lovely sunny days coming to an abrupt end and the new school year quickly approaching, something that could naturally boost Nicholas’ immunity against germs and infections would be great for all of us.

Nurture is a new juice drink for children that does just that – a fruity water drink (50% pure fruit juice and 50% water) with no added sugars, sweeteners or preservatives, and with added vitamins. It’s like a multi-vitamin in a drink.
Mune Health

The company behind Nurture, I MUNE, was founded by husband and wife Lucie and Derek Sanders, who came up with the idea for the drink after unsuccessfully searching for products to strengthen their children’s immunity.

In each pouch of Nurture you’ll find 100% of the optimum daily amounts of key ingredients for a 2-5 year old child:

  • Wellmune WGP 100% natural beta glucan (which comes from baker’s yeast), which has been clinically proven to strengthen key immune cells that help keep the body healthy (read more about it here);
  • Vitamins B6, B9, B12, C, D, and zinc, which contribute to the normal function of the immune system;
  • Calcium and Vitamin D, which are needed for normal growth and development of bones in children.

I Mune Nurture fruity water pouchAvailable in two flavours (strawberry and cherry, and orange and pineapple), it comes in a 200ml spill-proof pouch that can be closed and reopened making it perfect for throwing in a bag for when you’re out and about. The spill-proof spout which has to be pressed down as you drink (not as complicated as it sounds) means munchkins who like to squeeze their pouches aren’t able to make a mess. You can definitely tell parents came up with this product!
Nicholas trying Nurture orange and pineapple juicy water

But what did my juice-loving taste-tester think? After being told they were for him, Nicholas had opened a box before I got a chance to take any photos. He drank his first pouch very quickly (almost in one go) then asked for another, telling me ‘It’s very yummy juice, mummy!’ Nothing for me to add, except that the next day I sneakily had a taste and I can confirm it is very yummy.

Nurture is a brilliant idea whether you just want to give your child a healthier juice drink or also want to give their immunity a boost. It definitely has to be the easiest way to give your little one the equivalent of a multi-vitamin tailored to their specific needs. Now if only they would come up with one for adults…
Nicholas finishing his yummy Nurture fruity water

You can buy Nurture in multipacks of 4 pouches at Tesco (RRP £2.99) and, if you’re quick, you can get a £1 off voucher if you visit the Mune Health site.

Disclosure: we received two multipacks of Nurture for the purpose of this review. Our opinions are honest and our own.

Review: Ozeri Stone Earth Pan

I was lucky enough to be sent the Stone Earth Pan by Ozeri to try and have been using it as my only frying pan for the last month.

Stonehenge non-stick

The pan utilises a natural stone-derived coating from Germany called Stonehenge making it one of the world’s first frying pans to combine non-stick perfection with being absolutely free of toxic substances such as PFOA (PerFluorooctanoic Acid), a harmful chemical often found in traditional cookware.

The eco-friendly pan is made from  heavy-gauge die-cast aluminum and has a magnetized base so it can also be used on induction stoves. The comfortable handle is coated in heat-resistant silicon and solidly attached to the pan.

I’ve been very impressed by the Stone Earth Pan. It’s a lovely solid pan without being too heavy that heats quickly and perfectly evenly as its advertising claims. My pan is the middle size in the range (26cm/10″), and is small compared to most of my other frying pans, but its unusually high sides means you can cook a surprisingly good amount in it.

The instructions recommend always having an initial thin film of oil in the pan before cooking. This has worked perfectly for me, but I’ve also cooked bacon, sausages and pancakes without using any oil or butter and the non-stick surface has stilled worked like a dream.

Ozeri Stone Earth Pan with Stonehenge non-stick coating

Cleaning has also been a dream. Unfortunately it’s not recommended to put the pan in the dishwasher. However, even after a month of fairly constant use it only needs a quick wipe with a soapy sponge. Even after cooking my Asian-style salmon whose sticky honey marinade always leaves my other pans needing a soak and then serious scrubbing, the Stone Earth Pan just needed a quick soapy wipe down!

Ozeri Stone Earth Pan with Stonehenge non-stick

The Stone Earth Pan also comes with a fabulous free pan protector, made from thick felt, enabling you to store other pots and pans on top of it without its non-stick surface getting damaged. This is a brilliant extra and it made me wonder why other pan manufacturers don’t do this.

Stonehenge non-stick

I’m now a huge fan of Ozeri and their Stone Earth Pans and the best thing is, unlike other top quality pans, they don’t cost the earth!

Disclosure: I was sent the Ozeri Stone Earth Pan to review. My opinions are honest and my own.