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I discovered tripadvisor a couple of years ago and since then have used it every time I have gone away whether in the UK or abroad.
Basically the site allows people to write reviews bout places they have visited, not just hotels, but attractions and popular areas and places as well, there are also discussion boards and lists of places to visit all over the world, just search the area and it will come up with the most popular attractions adn information about the area.
Personally I tend to just use the review section, especially when I am going to book a hotel or if I am going to buy tickets for some sort of attraction. Often there are thousands of reviews for places and it is an excellent way of getting a good idea of what the hotel or attraction is like.
You can filter the reviews, for example only seeing reviews from people ho went as a couple, or as a family, people who rated it is poor, or excellent etc...
Whilst I do look at reviews from all sections I try to take the 'terrible' ratings with a pinch of salt, unless there are a huge number of them, I prefer to look at those with average and good ratings and see what they think to get a more rounded judgement of a place.
You do need to have a bit of an open mind and remember that we are all different, especially when it comes to things such as holiday resorts, I for example have been places which I loved but others have marked as terrible, examples of this being people who have gone to family resorts and then rated terrible because there are too many children there!
I would say research as much as you can, but tripadvisor is an great place to start and I find it to be so useful in making my travel choices.
I love mayonnaise, I love it in sandwiches, homemade coleslaw and of course tuna mayonnaise. The problem with it though is it isn't great for you.
Hellemans has always been my favorite but as I have been trying to lose some weight I know I need to cut that out a bit because the fat content is astronomical. So, I switched to the Hellemans lighter than light and hated it, doesn't taste like mayonnaise at all, so I then tried the light version, still pretty rank, not to my taste at all.
The solution I have found to my mayonnaise woes is Heinz light mayonnaise! I go to the seaside occasionally in the summer and get the obligatory cone of chips, of course I have to have some mayonnaise with that and it is always little sachets of Heinz.
When I was in the supermarket last week I saw the Heinz mayonnaise on offer, just £1 for a 445g squeezy bottle. I had the option of both the regular and the light version, I decided to be good and go for the light version and see how it compared to the regular.
I'm really impressed, the taste is still very much like mayonnaise, the consistency is still like mayonnaise rather than some thick paste as I found the Hellmanns light to be.
The fat content still isn't great at 3.8g per 15g serving ( and 0.1g less fat than the tasteless Hellmanns), but it is far better than the 10.7g per 15g in the regular version without having to compromise on the taste.
Heinz also offer a money back guarantee if you don't love the product more than other mayonnaise, however I am totally sold on it, yummy and better for my waist line!
I have always been a fan of Cif as I remember my mum using it when I was a child however when I recently moved house I wanted to give our old place a good top to toe clean and also clean our new place so was searching for something which would really go to work on the bathroom rather than just a nice clean.
Someone suggested that I give Cilit Bang shower foam a go because I was complaining that the limescale was difficult to shift with my showerhead, they were even kind enough to give me a 600ml can which they had bought on offer. The can is usually £3.50 but they had managed to get it in a buy one get one free deal so passed one on to me, I’ve been using it ever since.
This stuff is so easy to use and where as I usually get into the bath and scrub away with my Cif cream, with the Cilit Bang you just cover the area in the foam ( make sure you have about a 30cm spraying distance) and then leave it. Personally I like to spray it on and leave it for about 20 minutes, although after 10 minutes the results are amazing.
The foam melts away and becomes more of a liquid which you can then just shower off, simple as that, no scrubbing, no getting into the bath on your hands and knees like I had been doing!
The bath and shower are left shiny and clean looking with a nice fresh scent, it is great if you don’t have much time to dedicate to cleaning, let’s face it we all have better things we could be doing don’t we!
I still scrub clean the bath once a month using a bleach, I have to say though this isn’t necessary and the only reason I do it is that my other half is a grubby engineer who brings in lots of oil and muck!
I am totally converted to Cilit Bang now and highly recommend it to others.
I love scented candles and was melts; I have tried many brands but always seem to come back to Yankee because their quality is far superior to the other brands out there in my opinion, they do cost a little more but I believe you pay for the quality.
The latest addition to my collection was the Wild Passion Fruit scent. I first tried this as a tea light when it was first released about 2 years ago, it was a pleasant smell but in all honesty I do not find tea lights to really be worth their money, I had gotten it as part of a new scents sample pack but usually I wouldn't buy the tea lights as they do not have a strong enough smell for me on their own and I do not see the point of using them alongside the wax melts since the melts are strong enough already.
I bought my Wild Passionn fruit wax melt from a local store where they have a huge range of scents; I saw it and remembered the scent from the tea light and thought how nice it would be to have that scent again only stronger. I paid £1 but generally I see the wax melt tarts available for around £1.25 in most stores which stock them.
My burner takes a whole tart, in the past I have used burners which are smaller and you have to break the wax tart into 2 or 3 pieces. It is simple to do, just place the tart in the top, no need to add any water as you do with scent oils. Then just pop your tea light underneath ans it will slowly start to melt.
The big difference I find with Yankee wax melt tarts is that they are highly scented from the start, they melt away very slowly but still provide big bursts of fragrance which is great and cost effective. Generally I find I can use 2-3 tea lights under a tart before I would think about changing it because of the scent diminishing.
I was really pleased with the Wild Passion fruit, the scent was just like the tea light I had tried only it was much stronger, it is not an overpowering scent but is kind of floral and fruity at the same time, it is soft yet very present, I really loved it and am certainly keen to get it again.
I used 3 tea lights with this, the scent was very strong for the first 2 tea lights and became weaker but still pleasant with the third. It was simply to remove from the burner, I just put a tea light on under it so it began to melt slightly and then it slid out easily, I then wiped around the burner with a piece of kitchen towel and the burnr was ready to use again.
I think this scent would really appeal to lovers of fruity scents and also of floral scents because it is a bit of a mix of both, it would also appeal to those who like a scent in the background but not one which is really strong and overpowering.
I bought some Metcalfes skinnt topcorn in the heat and sweet flavour as part of my healthy eating plans for the new year. I had been making myself popcorn to snack on and also eaten popcorn which came in my Graze boxes so when I saw more unusual flavours produced by Metcalfes I thought I would give it a go.
The popcorn I bought was heat and sweet and was in poundland, it was a multipack of 4 so at 25p per 17g bag i thought it was pretty good value compared to the 79p bags I had been buying fro another brand.
The corn appears healthy with regard to nutritional values with 76 calories per bag and 2.9g of fat it was comparable to others I had and of course since it was a sweet version I expected it to be slightly sugary, the contents is 3.4g per bag which isn't great but my rationale was that its better than a chocolate bar.
My partner tried the popcorn before me, one day I came home and an open bag was on the counter, I asked if he liked it, his reply was that it is the worst popcorn her has ever tasted; so I gave it a go and I have to agree!
It has a bright orange covering, a bit like a wotsit and whilst the smell is ok and reminded me of sweet chilli snack a jacks (which I love) they taste was pretty awful. The pack says its combines the flavours of sugar, chilli, lemon, paprika, garlic and cumin and for me these flavours just do not work and it is nothing like the sweet chilli kind of taste I had expected. They were also kind of soft and I didnt enjoy the texture.
I also tried the sweet and salt flavour which were nice and had the texture I expected - unlike the heat and sweet.
Big thumbs down from me, whilst they were reasonably priced, and the texture of the sweet and salt popcorn was fresh and bouncy the taste was not good at all.
I have been trying to curb my Lush spending now I am a student again so I was really pleased when I picked up one of my Christmas presents and could smell the distinct scent of something from Lush!
I unwrapped my present and came across a diary, some hair bits, a top and yep you guessed it, Golden Wonder bath bomb.
This is a huge bomb, I am guessing you could split it in half and make it last you two washes, I decided not to, it was a bit of a treat for me and I relished the thought of having a highly scented luxurious bath, soo I used the whole thing.
The bomb is shaped like a present with a white bow on top and a gold dusting around the present itself, it is quite pretty and is one of the more highly scented bombs even before you put it in the bath.
You use it as you would any other bath bomb, start running the bath and then pop it in, as it begins to fizz away the layers in the bomb reveal different colours making a kind of rainbow effect on the water, and its not just colours, there are tiny little soluble stars and a golden lustre in the water.
Once you get in the bath the colours all blend together it it leaves a dark green/blue kind of colour, what I really loved was the gold still floating and swirling around in the water - it made me feel like a mermaid haha!
The scent is beautiful and strong but not overpowering which is great, the mix is quite unusual, orange, cognac and lime make up the scent; it is difficult to describe but does resemble champagne snow showers for those of you that remember that, its a kind of elegant scent and very relaxing.
I was pleased that the bath didn't really need more than a rinse around afterwards, too often Lush products leave scummy marks but this didn't despite the gold in it. My only criticism is the scent after you have used it, I love when I smell like my bath bomb as I go to bed at night, unfortunately the scent didn't really stick around with this bomb, although it was nice while it lasted.
It is a Christmas special so not available in the store at the moment, when it is I believe the price is £3.25 which is reasonable in comparison to other Lush products.
I am quite careful about what I eat and that means meal times can get a little boring for the kids and I end up having to make them something different, it also means they do not get to have junk food which is great for their health but as active boys I think they do deserve a treat sometimes.
Often my youngest will say he wants a pizza when I am offering alternative dinners. A takeaway pizza from our local costs around £7 which I think is a bit much for one meal, so last time I was out shopping I decided to grab some Asda frozen pizzas at just 63p each!
The pizza comes in the Asda own brand green and white colour box and actually I think looks quite yummy in the picture. It is a simple cheese and tomato flavour, sometimes my lot fancy a plain pizza and other times they want ham or something on it but the extra cost of buying a pizza with these extra toppings outweighs the cost of doing it yourself, so I have been buying these pizzas and then letting them make their own toppings by either adding extra cheese, ham, sweetcorn or tuna onto it.
This has gone down really well because it means everyone can have the flavour they want and for the prize of one pizza from the takeaway everyone can have a pizza in whatever flavour they fancy. Nutritionally this is also a winner compared to other pizzas, half the pizza has 318 calories and 6.8g of fat. It cooks in 12-14 minutes in the oven so it is nice and quick which is great when I have had a busy day.
Taste wise this is a yummy pizza, much more so than I was expecting considering it is from the value range, the toppings are generous enough not to have to add any more if you don't want other flavours in there and it is a nice soft fluffy base.
These are a winner in out house!
I tried Persil Small and Mighty as part of a product testing campaign, whilst I got it free, the bottle for 18 washes was around £3 at the time making it not too costly.
The bottle is mainly white and blue and has Persil written across the front, it also says it has wash booster included in it this is to help with stain removal.
There is a dosing cap on the top of the bottle and this came in handy, you simply fill it to the correct line and pop it in the machine along with your clothes - on the back of the bottle is a guide for how much you need to use depending on how large and how soiled your wash load is.
It was the non-bio version I used as I like the washing products I use to be kind to my childrens skin; this did not cause them any irritation and I was actually quite impressed that it was still effective in a cool wash.
I tried it on various child stained clothes, they included ketchup, grass stains, pasta sauce, jam and mud, each time the clothes came up nice and clean, On whites it is also good for general grubbiness however I did find then when i tried to wash some honey and mustard salad dressing out of my partners white top it was not effective which was disappointing.
I am not sure I would buy this because I am quite happy with both Sainsburys and Tesco own brand gels, but if you are someone who likes to buy brand names then I would recommend Persil Small and Mighty because it washed well and was pretty much inscented which I like because I prefer to use my fabric softener to make my clothes smell nice.
I tried the Batiste Cherry dry shampoo because it was on offer in Boots reduced from £2.99 to £1.99 for the 200ml can, I also had a £1.50 voucher so I was able to get a can for just 49p, can't go wrong at that price I thought.
I was interested in trying dry shampoo because I am going to the Sundown music event at the end of August so I wanted a way to keep my hair fresh whilst camping - I'm glad I tried it before going though as it really isn't for me.
The can is simple like a can of hair spray and there are many varieties for different hair types and with different scents, I liked the sound of the cherry one so I went for that, it is advertised as 'for all hair types'. Batiste say that the dry shampoo revitalises hair between washes so it sounded perfect for while I was camping.
To use the shampoo just shake the can, spray over the hair ( 30cm away), massage into hair and brush through, then you should be ready to style your hair as usual. Not me though! I found this was not at all suitable for my hair, it may be because I have curly hair which is a bit frizz prone anyway, but my hair puffed up into an afro style mess and it looked like I was going grey, i just couldn't get the spray to massage in and my hair felt horrible. I ended up having to wash my hair anyway so rather than save me time it took longer - I am just glad I tried it before I went away or that could have ended up being a bit of a hair disaster!
The only positive thing I found about this was that the scent really is yummy, it is a soft fruity cherry scent and I love it, so its a shame I won't be using the shampoo again.
I still have some other varieties to try out, including the hair plumper and the conditioning mist, but I have a feeling I should do that on a day when my hair style isn't important!
I often get heartburn and usually I have found myself buying packts of Rennie or Settlers from Poundland thinking that it was the cheapest way to do it. Recently I found myself without anything to ease my heartburn whilst I was out and having to pop into a chemist. Looking at the various products I noticed there was not much difference in price to buy Gaviscon than other brands so I thought I would give it a go.
I paid around £4.30 for a pack of 32 tablets, there were many varieties including spearmint, peppermint and strawberry. I chose the peppermint flavour.
The tablets contain Sodium Alginate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate and Calcium Carbonate and are advertised as being fast acting, long lasting and for heartburn and indigestion.
I was pleased that the tablet did not taste too chalky and that they did not leave my mouth feeling dry as some others do, they can also be chewed or sucked - personally I choose to chew mine.
I was very impressed with how quickly they work, maybe five minutes and I could already feel the benefits. The thing which impressed me most was how long the relief lasted, as i said I have used other products which can be bought cheaply however I find myself using quite a lot of them as the dose needs repeating often, with Gaviscon I have not found that, actually I think I had 2 tablets in the day which is much better than the 5 or 6 I would have had with the brands I usually use. I also found that they do not repeat on me which Rennie do and it can be unpleasant.
I will be switching to Gavison now, although I do not think I would buy the liquid, the tablets are very effective and they have benefits such as being gluten and sugar free.
I was purchasing some shampoo and hair mask from Tesco and saw that they had a 3 for 2 on all their shampoo and conditioners. Usually I buy a mid range conditioner because I tend to use hair mask quite often so do not need more expensive conditioners, but since the offer was on I decided to treat myself to some of the new herbal Essences Bee strong strengthening conditioner. As I was shopping online I could not give it a sniff before i bought it so had to hope it would be nice!
Herbal Essences is made by Clairol, personally I have always thought they were a tad over priced and only ever really had the brand when I find it in Poundland. Quite honestly I chose this conditioner is particular because the bottle looked nice! The fact that it is strengthening is good for me though as my hair gets quite dry and damaged due to working long shifts in a very warm environment, but ultimately I bought this because I liked the orange bottle against the leaf green cap and the name Bee Strong - the sound of honey and apricot scent sounded appealing too. The bottle is 200ml and costs £2.25 in Tesco, although I got it free as the other itemds I had purchased in the deal were more expensive.
I used the conditioner having used my Lush shampoo, it smelt gorgeous the moment i squeezed it from the bottle! I massaged it into my hair and was very surprised how little I needed to use to cover all my hair considering I have very long hair - usually I have to use loads. The smell really filled the room and was delicious, the fruity scent of apricot was what I could smell the most and then the honey was more of an undertone.
During use my hair felt really silky and soft and continued to do so as I rinsed the conditioner out. I left it on for around 5 minutes as i always do with my conditioner. As I towel dried my hair the scent was still there, nice and strong but I did not find it over powering at all. After my hair had fully dried off in the air a few hours later I could still smell the apricot and the bathroom still had the apricot and honey scent for many hours after I used it.
The bottle claims that this is a rich and creamy conditioner, I certainly agree, it is lovely! They recommend using the Bee Strong hair mask once per week along with this conditioner but I personally haven't as I already use another hair mask. The effects of this conditioner were lovely, my hair looked in good condition for days after use and the scent lingered well too. I am not sure if my hair is stronger but it does have a healthier look to it which I am really pleased with. I will definitely buy this again.
As part of a Christmas present I was given some Soap and Glory bits, I have already written about my experience of the body butter and now I have tried to Flake Away so am going to write about that.
The scrub comes in a little pink screw lid tub, it seems high quality and sturdy, but with a simple design, I would say it is premium looking but without a sky high price tag. As I did not buy this myself I looked up the price and found that in Boots it is £7 for a 300ml tub and is on offer in the 3 for 2 deal at the moment. My own tub is from the travel size range, contains 50ml and costs £2.50, this is also in the 3 for 2 deal at the moment.
The simple design of the tub consists of a label on the top with the Soap and Glory lettering and there is writing around the lid instructing how to use it, on the side it simply says Flake Away, shea butter, sugar and peach seed body polish. The bottom of the tub has a label advertising the ingredients and the fact that it should be used within 24 months of opening.
The lid is easy to twist off and a nice scent greeted me as soon as I did - i recognised the scent from the body butter I have used. It is sweet but not overly so and musky, I am not sure I would attribute peach to it but it is kind of fruity and floral. I would say the scent is stronger in the scrub than it is in the body butter.
The scrub is a dark mustard colour and is very thick, I quite like the consistency, often I have found scrubs are either too runny or have too much sugar and are hard to get out of the tub and too scratchy on the skin. This scrub scoops out easily and when mixed with a little water lathers up nicely into a creamy exfoliating lather.
I could feel the sugar working on my skin, but it was not too rough, it was a nice and gentle and the scent filled the shower. The sugar seemed to disolve quite well my skin had a strange feel to it. At forst I was not sure if I liked it, it felt a little cloggy. However once I had gotten out of the shower and dried myself off with a towel I found it felt much better and my skin felt really soft and moisturized. I also felt my skin was nicely exfloiated and felt refreshed.
The scent lingered on my skin for hours after using the scrub, it was quite subtle but you could tell it was there, and I also felt nice and soft for a long time after use. I do not think you need to use a moisturizer if you use this scrub, I like to moisturize twice per day but found using this I only need to do it once.
I love this scrub and despite it being a tab on the expensive side, I do not think it it too bad really because my little tub has lasted me about 6 washes, so the 300ml for £7 is pretty good value especially if you can get it on offer. I think this will be winging its way into my shopping basket again!
I recently did a review of Pure deep cleanse facial wipes, I was not overly impressed with them for much more than a simple face wipe. Going through my masses of toiletries I found a packet of 3 in 1 make up removal wipes, also made by Pure. I do not remember buying them, I think actually I got them included in a toiletry bundle as a birthday or Christmas present.
Although I did not buy the wipes, I have seen them in Savers for 99p and I have seen them 3 for £1 in Poundland. Each pack contains 25 wipes, so they are pretty good value - if they work that is!
The packaging is quite pretty, a nice tranquil purple design along with information about the product are on the front of the pack. They claim to remove make up whilst cleansing, toning and hydrating leaving you with smooth, refreshed and radiant skin.
The back of the pack shows the used wipes should be thrown in the bin rather than flushed, the packaging is recycled, the product is not tested on animals and details of the manufacturer - Saraco Industries. It warns to avoid contact with eyes and sore of broken skin and also gives details of the ingredients. It has lots of not very natural ingredients so is not really suitable for people who like to use more natural products.
The wipes are in a resealable packet, this is easy to peel back and remove a wipe and then reseal - the seal works quite well although I did find it lost its sticky after being in my handbag for a while. The wipes do not come out very easily, I have found that at least 2 wipes come out at once and I have to put once back.
The wipes are very soft and the moisture in them is good, they are not too wet or too dry - I really hate using wipes which leave you face really wet after use. As for make up removal, well I do not wear foundation so would not be able to comment on that but they do remove lipstick well, they even do a good job on the lip staining kind of lipstick. Eye shadow comes off well also, and I did not found the wipes caused any irritation to my eyes and there was no need to rub too hard. Mascara I am not so impressed with, I found that I ended up with dark smudges around my eyes.
With regard to how it makes your skin feel, it does feel fresh and clean, although I wouldn't say they are anything special, my face feels just as good when I use baby wipes, they do their job though.
I would perhaps consider buying these to have in my handbag as the pack is small and light, however at home i think I would stick to baby wipes.
I have been dying my hair since I was about 12, I had my hair bleached, highlighted, low lighted, dark colours light colours, you name it I tried it! During adulthood I have tended to go for dark reds and plum colours and have always used permanent colour rather than wash out. Last year I decided that I had enough of dark colour and since I had gone to quite a dark plum I was pretty much stuck with it. I called my friend who is a stylist and he told me my options were basically to let my hair grow and the colour to grow out or use a chemical remover which he said was not the best idea as it can ruin your hair - I have quite dry hair anyway so was not keen on that idea. So I decided to let it grow with the intention of using some lighter shades once I was back to my natural light brown.
Fast forward a year and I was getting frustrated, there was a clear line in my hair from my light natural colour and the darker albeit faded hair dye I had last used. So I decided my best bet would be to use a temporary dye so that my hair would all look the same colour whilst the permanent colour was growing out.
I went to Savers and looked around, I was surprised to find there was only a limited selection of temporary dyes. Eventually I came across Palette. There was not much choice of colour options, mainly light brown, dark brown and red brown. I decided to go with the velvet brown 720, looking on the chart on the back it looked like I would get a medium to dark brown on my natural hair colour and since the dye I had on was faded but still a darker colour, brown seemed the way to go.
Palette is made by Schwarzkopf and the box boasts it to be the no.1 colour brand in Europe, it claims to be an intensive cream colour which is rich and long lasting with perfect grey coverage - I did find a few greys once my previous dye was growing out so that was a definite bonus! Plus it came with a money back guarantee.
I paid £4.50 for the box of dye, I actually bought 2 because I have pretty long hair. So I spend £9 for the dye and thought that was good. What I did not realise was that this is a permanent colour! On the side of the box it has a selection guide 1,2 and 3. I being 6-8 washes, 2 is up to 24 washes and 3 is permanent. I think I was in a bit of a rush and just glanced at the box and my eyes chose only to see option 2 saying upto 24 washes! I did not realise this until I had already dyed my hair.
The box contains a tube of colour cream and a bottle with a nozzle on it for application, this has developer already in it. There is also some hair mask for after you have used the dye and a pair of gloves along with an instruction leaflet.
I was not impressed with the gloves, they were very thin and too small for my hands, I ended up using some latex gloves I had under the sink. Also there is only one pair of gloves and I like to use a pair to apply the dye and another pair to wash it off. So, with my gloves on I followed the instructions and squeezed the colour cream into the developer bottle. I replaced the lid and gave it a good shake. I then applied to it my hair, roots first. I then did the same with the second bottle.
I found it easy to apply the cream, it squeezed out from the nozzles easily and I was then able to massage it into my hair. Once applied I left it for around 25-30 minutes. When it was time to wash it off the process was simple, much more so than other colours I have used, I have been known to spend around 25 minutes trying to get all the dye out of my hair, this took about 5 minutes. I then applied the hair mask and left it on for 20 minutes. I did use both sachets of mask, but they are more generous than other brands I have used, in the past I have often found I have needed to top up with my own conditioner. The scent of the conditioner was really lovely, kind of sweet and fruity - the scent of the dye was not too bad either although I would not say it was nice, it was not particularly unpleasant.
Once the dye was out and the mask removed I was shocked by how dark it seemed, I had expected a medium to dark sort of brown, it looked black! I decided that since it was went it looked darker and that I would see how it was in the morning. There was not much change, it still looked very dark. I hoped that once it had been washed a few times it would fade out a bit. 3 weeks on it is a bot lighter but it is not the colour I had wanted.
I found my hair was quite soft and nourished after using this dye which was good because I hate it when a dye makes my already dry hair even worse. It does cover grey hair well which I am pleased with, it is simple to use and the smell is not too strong. I do feel though that the colour guide was misleading, it is much much darker than I had imagined it to be. Of course there is also the problem for me now that it is actually permanent rather than 28 washes as I had thought.
I would use this brand again although I would take more care about selecting a shade and also about checking how long it will last!
My weight has always been an issue for me. At my highest point I weighed 19.5 stone and was a dress size 24/26. I tried Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Atkins, the cabbage soup diet, detoxing - each time I lost a few pounds but I couldn't keep it up, calorie counting, starving myself it just didn't work, or the side effects and constant hunger were too much for me. So I waddled on with life, I had zero self confidence and very little motivation. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and I wasn't sure how to get myself on the right track.
That all changed for me when I met a new friend at an event I went to. One day we met up after work and he had his ID badge on, I could not believe how different he looked from his photo. He told me he had lost several stone from doing Zumba. I wasn't sure I was up for that, I was sure I would be the biggest person there and I have no coordination. He told me a group of friends went and I would be fine, a couple of weeks later I went to my first class. I loved it and over the course of about a year I got myself down to 14 stone 8 pounds. I was going to classes 3 times per week and enjoyed it so much as well as being thrilled at what it was doing for my body.
Then I came to a stand still - I wasn't so disgusted with my body any more and I had more confidence, but I was still very overweight and keen to lose more, but I just couldn't. My weight was yo-yo-ing. I tried changing my exercise and varied what I was doing but I was stuck. It felt like madness, I was physically very fit, I could do 2 hour workouts one after another, I could run 10k, I had given up smoking, but still I was overweight - and going my my bmi I wasn't just overweight, I was obese.
So, when my Zumba instructor told us she was getting involved with a new weight loss product which taught you how to eat healthily. Until that point I has lost weight, however my relationship with food was still not healthy. I tried to eat right but still had trouble making food choices that would keep me full, this was especially true because I exercised so much, all that exercise made me hungry, so I was really keen to learn about this new plan she was promoting - Herbalife.
Herbalife offer a number of products, Formula 1 shakes are meal replacements which is what I used, they also do snack bars, thermo tea and protein powder as well as hair and skin care products, muscle gain products and so on. I used the Formula 1 shake personally.
The plan sounded simple to follow - replace one meal per day with a Herbalife Formula 1 shake, eat two healthy meals per day, have 3 healthy snacks per day and drink at least 2 litres of water per day. This was made easier for my because my instructor gave me a sample meal plan which covered 2 weeks. There were things on the plan which I did not like, so I remodeled the plan a bit and went through and made a list of the snacks, breaksfasts, lunches and dinners. Each day I would then pick something from each category and have that.
The shake can substitute whichever meal you choose. I decided to substitute my breakfast, the reasons for this were that I had trouble making sure I had breakfast each day, I often skipped this meal, but my instructor told me how important it is to eat breakfast. Sometimes I did have a lunch from the list and then a shake for lunch depending on what fitted in best with my day. I never swapped my dinner for a shake because I always felt like my dinner was something to really look forward to and that I would not want to end my day with a shake.
An example of what i would eat on the plan -
Breakfast - shake ( depending on flavour I would mix in fruit )
Snack - green olives
Lunch - Salmon, asparagus and poached egg
Snack - yogurt with nuts and honey
Dinner - chilli made with turkey mince
Snack - fruit
There were so many more things I ate as well - pesto chicken, eggs and turkey bacon with toast, roast chicken with veg and sweet potato, homemade soup, butternut squash salad, fish and salad. It was really refreshing and interesting trying lots of things I would not have thought of eating before or things I had not associated with eating healthily, it was even fine to have wine a couple of times per week.
I carried on with my exercise and started on the plan, I was going to give it 1 month and see how it goes, although I was not too confident because I had tried shake diets before such as Slimfast and I didn't get on well with it.
The shake comes in a 550g canister, the design is quite simple with a picture of a shake on the front, it clearly says Herbalife Formula 1 and the flavour on the front. On the back is the nutritional information, instructions on how to make it and a summary of the benefits of the product.
The shake comes in 7 flavours - cookies and cream, vanilla, strawberry, tropical ( tastes like banana ), chocolate, coffee and cinnamon apple. One shake made up with 250ml of skimmed milk contains -
Of course this varies slightly between flavours but only a tiny amount. It is also packed with vitamins and minerals, each shake contains 38% of most vitamins and minerals, slightly higher with some. The rest of your daily needs are easily made up with a good diet, eating fruit and vegetables as part of your diet makes it up to your daily requirement - I personally also take a multi-vitamin supplement but I was already doing that before I started on the plan.
The shakes have less sugar than other shake plans I have come across, higher protein ( keeping you feeling fuller ), low sodium and the fat is actually slightly more than other shakes I have come across but I do not see this as a negative thing because your body needs a certain amount of fat, especially if like me you work out quite a bit - it is of course still perfectly within healthy levels of fat for a meal.
The shake I tried to start with was Cookies and Cream flavour. It was quick yummy and did taste like cookies, it has little chocolate cookie pieces in it too. It is easy to make, just mix 2 table spoons of the powder with 250ml of milk. They say to mix it with semi-skimmed milk, however I am lactose intolerant, I can handle small amounts of lactose however with things like milk I try to use alternatives so I do not have too much lactose in my diet. For this reason I mixed either soya milk, rice milk or Lactofree milk in with my shake and it tasted great. I have tried all the other flavours too except the coffee and they are all really yummy and great with fruit added. Both the tropical and the chocolate are great with a banana mixed in, the vanilla and strawberry are fantastic with some frozen mixed berries blended in and again they are all great with yogurt mixed in.
The shakes are a nice thickness, I like to use a hand blender to froth them up a bot or blend in my fruits. They are a nice consistency, not so thick they seem like a pudding, but thick enough for it to be fulfilling as a meal, I know before I have had shakes and felt like I was just having a drink which meant psychologically I could not feel full. I did not have this problem with Herbalife shakes.
I will admit the first 4 or 5 days were not easy, I did not feel hungry, but my brain needed to get used to the change in my diet, my sugar intake was reduced so was my sodium intake from what I was used to and I even felt like I was eating too much, to me it seemed like I was having more food than I had previously. After day 5 it got easier and I felt full of energy and really proud of myself. I felt like I had lost weight but had resisted the urge to weigh myself, I also felt less bloated.
On the morning of day 8 I weighed myself. My start weight had been 14 stone 8 pounds, on day 8 having done the plan for 1 weeks I was 14 stone 1 pound. I was so amazed I went and checked my weight on another scale, it said the same, I was so happy!
I do understand that people tend to lose a larger amount of weight during the first week, although 7 pounds is quite impressive when you think about the fact it is half a stone. I was not expecting anything like this in my second week, but I lost another 3 pounds, then the next week 2 pounds. I carried on with the plan and the weight crept off. Each week I lost weight and in 12 weeks I had gone from being 14 stone 8 pounds to being 12 stone 9 pounds!
I can honestly say I never felt hungry despite the amount of exercise I was doing. Out of curiosity I tracked what I ate for a week and found I was eating between 1400 calories and 1700 calories per day for 6 out of 7 days. One day per week I ate whatever I wanted, and I do mean anything. If I wanted cake or pizza, curry takeaway anything I would eat it paying no attention to the calories or fat I was consuming, it was treat day. I must say though I got to the point where I did not overindulge on treat day, it was still a day to look forward because it was a day of freedom where if I wanted to go out for dinner I could, or if I wanted a sugary cereal I could and I felt no guilt. It worked so well for me, the day I did it could change so if I was invited out that was fine I just changed what would be my 'free day'.
I feel using Herbalife helped to educate me to making healthier food choices, I am so much more confident now and I do not tend to use the shakes anymore, I have some in the cupboard because I find it useful for when I am unwell, having shakes means I can get good nutrition even if I do not feel like eating, or if I am in a real rush in the morning I can quickly make a shake and drink it on the go, but really doing the Herbalife plan has been educational for me.
I am not saying this plan is for everyone and I do not think I could have stuck to the plan some distributors recommend which says have 2 shakes a day. Shakes do not work for everyone, but for me it has transformed my relationship with food, it did something for me that no other diet plan could do. I have spoken to people who have said why did I not just start having a healthy diet, but for me personally that just did not work, I found limiting my calories made my hungry and grumpy, I could never stick with it.
It is not as cheap as other plans, I could get around 28 servings from each canister, I paid £27.60 per canister. Of course you can get other brands for about a fiver for 12 servings, but I have tried these others which have not kept me full ot have had too much sugar in for my liking and gave me moods swings.
Herbalife has changed my body, it is not a quick fix, I still have weight to lose, I still have to exercise, but it helped me when I was stuck in a rut, my weight loss was at a stand still and this gave me the kick I needed to get back on track and to learn about my eating habits and how to eat well and have my nutritional needs met, have energy and have a steady weight loss.
I give Herbalife a thumbs up from a personal point of view.