Friday, 26 February 2010

Content Theft

I was intrigued the other day to find a link to my site from so I went to check it out and saw that Tesco has a search facility for internet content. Cool...

However, visitng the search section which was already populated with the results I noticed that one of my blog entries was there, but that the address wasn't my own website - it was one called Health Fitness Support!

At first I thought "ahh that's nice, somebody like what I wrote and decided to quote me" on some other healthy resource, and then I found that, not only was it the ENTIRE post, there was no mention of where it came from and, worst still, there were others!!

I was horrified to discover that whoever runs "Health Fitness Support" has been stealing my blog entries and posting them on their own site - without any mention of where they came from and who wrote them - for about 4 months!!


These are all MY posts!

And these are just the ones that I know of, how many more this spineless person (or people?!) has taken from my site I don't know.

I have tried to find contact information for whoever runs the site but there is none, I have left numerous messages in the comments section but these are yet to be answered and my content is STILL there! >:-(

The thing that pisses me off the most is that this site is run by someone who is using it for financial gain. Every entry is littered with adverts. I don't get paid a penny for what I write. I know I talk about Maxitone and Maximuscle a lot but that's because I both like and USE their products - but they don't pay me to write about that fact!!

So some scumbag is using MY words, MY pictures and MY experiences to line their pockets! And they don't even have the BALLS to reply to me?!

Has this happened to anyone else before? Am I the only one?

Clearly I'm not the only one targetted by this creep as there are numerous other blog entries from other people that are being siphoned away from the rightful source. I think I might contact those people and ask them if they're aware that another person is using THEIR words to make them money!

I've written to wordpress so hopefully will hear back from them soon, but the cowardly criminal has hidden their details, I can find out the IP address: but that's it... I don't know how they're getting my posts or what I can do about it.

I'm so upset, I put my heart and soul into this site and some faceless bastard has been stealing my words and passing them off as their own - all to make a quick buck?!


So upset :'-(


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Product Review: Maxitone Definity Crisp

Promax Crisp bars are the bomb, seriously, they are like a lifeline for me, a saving grace, the perfect panacea for any mid/late afternoon slump/sweet craving and they help me avoid the multitude of sweet and/or fat-laden treats that adorn every available surface area in my office!!

Nom nom nom...

Guess what I've just found out?!

I'm gonna have a bit of a rant here so sorry but bear with me as this is pretty horrific...

You know Cocoa Pops, or chocolate rice, or whatever other incarnation of these evil chocolate puffs of stripped-down rice you might have tried (I say 'tried' in the hope that this nutritionally devoid cereal doesn't feature in your kitchen cupboard), well did you know that their cereal bar equivalent, Coco Pops Cereal & Milk Bars contains 42g of sugar per 100g!!

Of course, This is hardly surprising when you consider that the word 'sugar' features FIVE times in the ingredients listing, and I've not even counted the glucose syrup - and the sorbitol... (why put a sugar substitute in if you've got so much already?!)

It really made me feel ill to read the 'enticing description' for the Coco Pops bars:

Kellogg’s have packed your kids’ favourite cereal into a soft and chewy cereal bar with a delicious milky layer on the bottom, making it a real anytime treat. Fortified with vitamins, iron and calcium, now you can give your kids a great tasting snack that you can be sure won’t come back from school in the lunchbox!

Who the hell would send their child to school with one of those in their lunch box after checking out the back of the packet for the nutritional info - each bar contains 2g of fat, which doesn't sound huge or bad at all until you read on and see that all of that is saturated fat!

I can't believe Kellogg's market it as a healthy anytime treat to send your child to school with, fume!

Anyway, rant over... but just as a contrasting comparison, Promax Crisp Bars have 20g less sugar per 100g, almost half the salt, less than half of the fat comes from saturates and there's 6 times more fibre!

And now.... cue fanfare... we have another addition to the yummy snack-tastic high protein, low calorie offerings from the Maximuscle/Maxitone company in the form of Definity Crisp Bars!!

I must admit to being a little worried in case these tasted like Special K bars... which are okay at first but soon get sickly as hell!

Thankfully they're not, in fact they're really tangy and very tasty indeed! They definitely beat Special K hands down on taste alone.

With 4g less sugar and over a third less salt they are definitely a healthier choice for those who watch what they put in their bodies.

However, that isn't all Definity Crisp bars have to their benefit, they also contain the teeniest amount of Calories (only 83 - plus only 1.6g of saturated fat!!) and are also deceptively filling to boot! This is probably due to the fact that they are enriched with whey protein and so have over 6g of protein per bar the perfect afternoon/mid-morning snack, take it from me!

So, just think, if you're surrounded by kids eating sweet treats, or colleagues tucking into Calorie and saturated-fat-laden chocs, cakes and pastries, you can feel smug in the knowledge that are you helping to abate, and hopefully eliminate, any sweet cravings with a guilt-free bar of fruity yoghurt smothered yumminess.



Sunday, 21 February 2010

Quick update on short term goal...!

I don't have time to update properly as I'd like to get an early night for once and get up early to go to the gym...

You see, I have a short-term goal to work towards, and scarily short it is too!!

In 13 weeks from today I will be attending the FAME UK Champs in my hometown of London.


In my usual impulsive style I thought about this a bit yesterday before going out and drinking too much for the 3rd time in the space of 5 days and woke up this morning thinking "that's it, I need a new challenge"

So I've entered! And now I'm scared.

I first heard about this a little while ago on facebook from Jay Benedetti who won the Maximuscle Body of 2009 Cover Model category, he has entered and will be blogging about his progress.

However, it wasn't until I looked in my latest copy of ultra-FIT (which does seem to get better and better with each issue I read :-) ) that I paid it much attention as they've dedicated most of the magazine to training for, and competing in, bodybuilding and fitness shows!

The mag featured the lovely Eleni Plakitsi who won the Fitness Model category and came 2nd in the Bikini Model too!

Her victory was facilitated by the equally lovely and very wise Audrey Kaipio, herself a FAME UK Fitness Model winner, 2 years earlier back in 2007, and who now trains and models and will be heading up the 'FAME Camp' that I'm hoping to attend next month as it's also, very handily, being held in London! :-)

So, it's good to have a new challenge but I'm a bit terrified in that it's only 13 weeks away!

The good news is that I've gotten back into my weight training and I think I've got a decent amount of muscle mass already in place.

The bad news is that I have a lot of fat covering these fabulous muscles, especially round my mid-section, which might be thanks to all the boozing, hmm

Basically, I need to sort it out, and fast, otherwise I'm just going to make a prat out of myself in front of a lot of people!

The alcohol is going to go out of the window (though not literally!), I'm going to try and not drink at all but my birthday is the week before the FAME champs so I'm going to be realistic and say that I'm going to reduce it quite a bit.

I've been reading a lot about alcohol for my Open University course and the effects of ethanol on the body, it's not great, especially if you're trying to lose weight!

You know that our body has no way of storing alcohol so it uses it for energy. Great you may think? However, that means that your body is not calling on its fat reserves for fuel and, worse still, if you've eaten a big meal while drinking (or grabbed a bite to eat while out because you've had alcohol-induced munchies), that food will just be stored. Great... not!!

So yeah, alcohol is bad news if you're trying to lose weight and, to be honest, it's something I could do without for a while as I'm going to try and make every calorie count, and that means avoiding any empty or frivolous calories... basically, if it's not going towards muscle repair, recovery and rebuild - or providing me with a good source of long-lasting energy, it's not going to get consumed. Fact.

So, tomorrow will be the first day of my new training regime. I'm going to sit down at lunch tomorrow and plan everything out for the next 12 weeks and really try and nail it! I'm also going to do some research into what's expected in these shows, I'll need to get a bikini, some fake tan and some ridiculously high transparent-heeled shoes too I think!!

Excited, but scared, more excited though, I think this is just what I need to spur me into action, I've been getting complaisant, it's time to kick ass!!

So, the only thing left is to ask who's going to join me in this little escapade?! JAG, Gym Ninja, Lucie...anyone?! :-)


Friday, 19 February 2010

It's 03:40am

...and I really should be in bed, not on here!

no, I'm not drunken posting, I've just finished my latest TMA (Tutor-Marked Assessment) on the last two case studies I've been reading - 'Alcohol and Human Health' (a really fascinating and scary read!!) and 'Screening for Breast Cancer' - topics very close to my heart as they affected my parents - mortally in the case of my biological father and almost likewise in the case of my mother.

I was meant to have the morning off tomorrow to complete my assignment as it doesn't need to be in til noon tomorrow but we've got a consultant in from our software provider and my systems colleague is off sick so I need to be around... hence why I'm still up at this ungodly hour, oh dear

Anyway, I didn't think I'd complete it in time but I have and I'm feeling rather glad, chuffed, relieved etc

hurrah! :-)

but quite tired too, so I think I'll go to bed now

just thought I'd pop on here though as I've got that out the way to say HELLO! and that I've not disappeared off the face of the planet, just the blogosphere it seems

so much has been going on lately I don't know where to start - will have to compose one of my mammoth reads for all of you with a spare half hour of your life to kill! I've got lots to write, lots of pictures to post, recipes, product reviews etc - I've just not had a moment to myself!

okay, quick brief update...

Although I expected that, when travelling along the road to happiness, the occasional speed bump was to be expected... what I didn't envisage was meeting one big huge bloody road block!!

Yes, dear reader, things have got wrong. We got the FULL building survey results back last Friday, read through them, were happy with no structural probs just lots of refurb work needing done... the next day Joe was out doing a long ride so unreachable and it was up to me to call the estate agent and say yes we're all good to go, let's move to exchange...!

then, I open the mail and there's a cheque from our solicitors - a refund of their fee!!

without telling anyone, estate agents included in this, the seller had pulled out as he figured he could probably get more if he spent a bit of money on it and did it up


cue the whole weekend (during which I was supposed to be completing my assignment) spent in emotional turmoil as we didn't realise the above until Monday as nobody could get hold of the bloody seller all weekend...

Monday I found out the news and had to go home, was devastated, we were all ready to move in.

Anyway, I'm trying to be positive and there's actually a chance that this might be salvageable... nothing's clear yet but if we can part with a bit more money and still end up with it that would be awesome as we simply can't afford anything that size in that area otherwise.

I have been looking at places further afield and am thinking it might be okay to sacrifice the super location and prestigious postcode for somewhere even bigger and a lot cheaper... We did go to see a place this evening which was fab, really huuuuuge with a monster garden (the place we were trying to get had a dinky postage-stamp sized one) but that needed a lot of work, but was on for a *hell* of a lot less than the houses in the area we were hoping to move to... food for thought anyway although we do have to think about transport links, me and Joe to get to work and my son to get to school as his is absolutely miles away!

Speaking of the boy, had to take him shopping the other day for school trousers as the ones we bought him a few months ago that reached the ground have no got clear air-space round his ankles... poor lad! So, he's now wearing age 15 trousers and he's not even 14 yet, it's scary the rate he's growing, he'll be towering over me in no time and I'm pretty tall for a girl! Oh, and his voice has broken, that's weird too, I'm not used to it, it's been quite sudden and now there's this deep-voiced tall and lanky emotional teenager in the place of my angelic-voiced golden haired little boy


anyway, it's now 4am and I'm somewhat worried now as my eyes are now open properly again so hopefully I'll be able to sleep when I get up to bed, Joe will *not* be impressed at the time!!

will update you all soon about my life, injuries and physio treatment (yes, I finally hauled my arse back to Balance), training, aspirations etc... we've got friends round for dinner tomorrow so won't be til Saturday daytime (hopefully!)

hope you're all well and have a very happy Friday


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Fruit and nut bars - take 1!

I really like to think that I do my best to feed my family good healthy real food. Breakfast for my Joe and my son is either muesli or fruit & fibre, and I even bake the bread that goes into their sandwiches for lunch which I always manage to pack loads of salad into, and we all eat the same thing for dinner which is invariably cooked from scratch by either myself or Joe (mostly me though, I *love* cooking, it's really therapeutic).

However, as my meals tend to be small and frequent and I am mother to a teenage son who is growing at a ridiculous rate and have a boyfriend who is training for a particularly arduous mountain-based cycle race in France - we need fuel to keep us going in between these meals!

We don't have crisps, chocolates, sweets, biscuits, cakes etc in the house. I just refuse to buy them and therefore they're not expected to be there so that's cool and not an issue.

However, in addition to the yoghurts and fruit in our fridge I do buy fruit and nut cereal bars. My son's current faves are Kellog's Nutri-Grain Elevenses in Raisin.

"Great" I thought, full of fruit, no chocolate etc etc...

But I recently looked at the ingredients list and this is what I found:


Cereals (36%) (Wheat Flour, Rolled Oats), Invert Sugar Syrup, Raisins (10%), Glucose Syrup, Apple, Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Skimmed Milk Powder, Emulsifiers (E475, E472e, Soy Lecithin), Raising Agent (E500), Flavouring, Modified Starch, Salt, Cinnamon, Molasses, Stabiliser (Guar Gum), Barley Malt Extract, Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid), Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.

Three E Numbers! And does it really need all the rest that's in it? Okay so sugar isn't the *highest* ingredient but it's damn near close in 2nd place! Oh, and look what comes 4th - Glucose Syrup!!

If that wasn't enough, they've thrown in a little bog standard 'Sugar' later on... just for luck I assume, it obviously wasn't sweet enough already ;-)

Oh, and what *exactly* is 'Flavouring'? Which flavouring? Is that not the most ambiguous ingredient going - it could be treacle or turd for all we know!! (I'm assuming it's not the latter else they wouldn't sell many bars but still... case in point!)

Hmm, this ostensibly innocuous healthy bar may not be all that it seems.

Of course, you can get bars that have very few ingredients which are all 'natural', but these tend to be items like flapjacks - (fat)butter, sugar (white), oats, more fat (oil), tonnes more sugar (syrup) etc etc... heh, tasty, but probably not something you want to eat every day!!

So, inspired by my recent foray into the world of wonderful cold-pressed only-natural-ingredients yummy bar goodness courtesy of such companies as Wholebake and Natural Balance Foods, I thought I'd give it a bash at making my own, at least then I know EXACTLY what has gone into them and therefore what I'll be putting into myself and family - sweet!

So I did a load of research of cereal/granola/fruit/nut bars on the internet but couldn't seem to agree on one particular recipe so what I did was took a little bit of everything I found that sounded nice and then guesstimated the amounts and threw it all into the melting pot to see what would happen...

And, without wishing to blow my own trumpet I think I did rather well considering it's the first time I've ever made anything like this ... but then I have two biased fellas living with me, and me - well I'll eat just about anything!

(I'll definitely tweak the recipe next time by quite a bit - i.e. adding more peanut butter, less nuts, more fruit, less honey, more sugar, less heat, more cooking time etc etc... not worked it out yet but I'm pretty happy with my first attempt.)

And here, for your reading pleasure, it is:

First thing first, here's what I elected to put into my Fruit and Nut bars

* 50g Rolled/Quick oats
* 75g Puffed Rice (I used Organic Puffed Wholegrain Rice from a fab organic foods company called Rude Health)
* 50g Quinoa
* 50g Dried chopped Dates
* 50g Dried soft Apricots
* 50g Demerara Sugar
* 150g Clear Honey (acacia is best if you only want a subtle flavour)
* 50g Whole Almonds
* 50g Plain Cashew Nuts
* 50g Whole Hazelnuts
* 50g Walnuts Halves
* 25g Sunflower Seeds
* 25g Pumpkin Seeds
* 150g Crunchy Peanut Butter

Here's the method, it really couldn't be easier!

(apologies for not photographing everything but I was getting carried away by the fact that I hadn't immediately failed on my first attempt!!)

1) Pre-heat the oven to about 140 degrees Celsius (Gas Mark 1/ 275 Degrees Fahrenheit)

2) line a baking tin (I think the one I used was 20x30cm) with non-stick greaseproof paper (then no need for extra fat to prevent sticking).

3) Weigh out the puffed wholegrain rice, quinoa and oats into one bowl, your mixed nuts into another and then chop up your dried fruit into bitesize pieces.

4) Chuck it all in a bowl together with the seeds - ahh isn't that perty :-)

(of course 3 and 4 could be done in one step but that would reduce the pretty pictures)

5) (I don't have pics of this unfortunately) mix the honey, peanut butter and sugar into a bowl and stick in the microwave for about a minute (can't remember exact time) until the peanut butter and honey have mixed into one lovely gooey runny mess (if you don't have a microwave you could heat it all in a pan on the stove for a bit until it all runs together).

6) (the fun part) mix the *whole* lot together in a big bowl, vigorously, and then (before you get tempted to take out a spoon and start eating) tip the mixture into the lined pan and press down really really firmly with the back of a spoon until it's all evenly distributed and nicely compacted.

7) bake in the oven for about 30 mins or until it's gone nicely dark golden on the top (I left mine in a little too long and frazzled the edges!)

8) Take out the oven and leave in the tin to cool *completely* (for as long as possible, you want it to be rock hard before you cut into it - I left ours out in the garden as it's so flippin cold in London at the mo!!)

9) When complete cooled, lift out onto a large chopping board and cut into rectangles (cut mine into 1/2's then 1/4's then 1/16ths)

10) Serve! Or do what I did and wrap them into individual portions and then hide them round the house so my son has one-a-day to take with him (he'd seriously scoff the lot if I left them out in his sight!!)

So there you go!

As I said I'd like to tweak the recipe and I have already bought some blueberries and strawberries for the weekend so get ready for round 2! I'm very pleased with them though, particularly because they didn't fall apart and taste pretty decent!

You can get 16 generous servings out of the recipe and each bar weighs approx 50g - just like shop bought - perfect :-)

And finally, here is the nutritional data per bar:

Calories (kcal) 247.6
Carbohydrate (g) 24.2
Protein (g) 6.5
Fat (g) 14.1
Fibre (g) 2.7
Alcohol (g) 0.0
Fruit & Veg 0.1

If you do end up making these, or something similar, please do drop me a line, and let me know what you thought/how they turned out :-)

Happy baking!


Official Maxitone Launch Party - Wednesday 27th January 2010

Sorry for the delay in posting about this!

Well the night began badly as, for some reason, google maps had taken the postcode I'd submitted and thought "ahh, let's play a game of 'send Tara on a wild goose chase' shall we...?"

So, instead of finding my way to INC Space (a rather posh health club/gym/events venue) on Grape Street, I ended up round the back of the Ambassador's Theatre with some lovely actors trying to assist me in looking for a road which I assumed existed between two buildings... but in fact didn't!

I would like to add that this isn't entirely my fault as I took the postcode I'd found (WC2H 8ED) when I searched for INC Space and typed it into google maps and this is where it sent me!

Anyway, I finally ditched the printed map, pulled out my Palm Pre (which I don't tend to use as annoyingly it only seems capable of searching for half a postcode at a time!!) and looked at the maps on there and realised I was in completely the wrong place and had a little bit of a walk ahead of me still!

So, eventually I turned up in a sheen of sweat (attractive!), feeling a little fed up, not to mention a lot flustered and highly embarrassed at being late!

I cooled down a bit and got changed into some sporty workout pants and a lovely Maxitone t-shirt that I'd just been given and headed to the bar to join everyone else...

...after first passing a table and picking up one of the attractively laid out Maxitone water bottles and finding that it contained the yummy Maxitone Sculptress bar I reviewed on Friday.

However, just as I was about to enter the room I saw a familiar face, but one whom I'd not seen for absolutely years - Wole Adesemoye!!

(I would like to point out that I don't usually look this red and shiny - I had just finished an intense Zumba workout... more about that later!)

Awesome!! I'm not sure exactly why I hadn't actually expected to see Wole there as he's probably one of the most (if not the most) famous and recognised faces of Maximuscle and also runs a successful Personal Training business called Wole Training, but it was a lovely surprise :-)

Next I was lucky enough to get a personal training session from a rather fabulous guy called David Perks. He took down some details about me and asked about anything in particular I wanted to address so I told him about my tight hip flexors, dodgy weak ankles and my equally dodgy constantly-injured right shoulder and he set about showing me some really effective exercises to address all these issues.

Here's me performing 'the clock'...

Which was quite a tricky move that involved me standing on one leg and then moving the other round at various angles - hence the clock reference.

...and next performing the New Zealand All Black's Haka

Heh, seriously I don't remember what I was doing here but I'm sure it was worth the silly pose ;-)

Fortunately the photographer didn't manage to capture me doing the other move for my hips which involved me kneeling on one leg and then raising the other out to the side (just think dogs and lampposts), although thoroughly unattractive looking it was incredibly tricky, tiring and made me ache a little afterwards - fab!!

I really love exercises which just involve your own body weight but have such great results and you can immediately feel working.

Last but not least, David showed me the most excellent (sorry if I sound all Bill & Ted here) move for improving my shoulder strength - not actually targeting my delts but working on improving the stability of the whole rotator cuff, specifically (I think) the Infraspinatus muscle.

I've been trying to find a picture of this move to show you guys but have been unable thus far - if anyone knows the exact name of the move then please do let me know as I'd be thrilled to hear of it!

I'll describe the move:

1) Grab a pair of *really* light weights (seriously, 2kg or less - David got me to do this move with 1kg weights and I really felt it working despite the fact that I use 9kg weights for my dumbbell shoulder press!)
2) Prop a bench up so it's at about 45 degrees, then straddle it so you're facing the wrong way - like you're about to do a seated rear lateral raise.
3) Hang your arms over the back of the bench and then bring the elbows up and out to the side as if you were about to launch into the 'Scarecrow' dance move.
4) Holding both weights with the backs of your hands facing up towards the ceiling, slowly rotate your arms upwards until they reach shoulder height.
5) Slowly lower again, then repeat.

After my fabulous PT session we were all invited to try out a Zumba taster class which was taken by the beautiful and inspirational Lindsay Jay.
I soon discovered that I truly have two left feet and am *much* less co-ordinated than I thought - there's a reason why I only dance when I'm drunk!

As Lindsay writes about Zumba on her site:

"Latin and international music are fused to create an explosive, booty shakin’ party of a workout that will target all those problem areas, burn 400 to 1,000 calories a class and leave you on a high!"

Lindsay managed to condense a whole class - incorporating all elements of a typical Zumba class - into an intensive 20/30 minute 'blast' which was the most fun I'd had for ages - as you can see from this picture!!

I would like to point out that, although you can see David taking part in this picture, he soon skipped out after the first few minutes - wuss! ;-)

Wole also didn't join in having hurt his hamstring while taking part in one of the Wasps Rugby Club's training sessions (or so he says... it could just be that he didn't want to look daft... ;-) )

Us girls are obviously made of sterner stuff though and we stuck it out. In the pic you can see gorgeous Laura Muirhead - who was the worthy winner of the 'Motivate' category in the Maxitone Body of 2009 competition. Also there is equally lovely Nicky Edwards who was also a finalist in the 'Motivate' category and looked fab!

From the 'Inspire' category that I entered, it was only myself and the fabulous Lucie Anslow.

Unfortunately our category winner didn't come along as she was quite busy having recently moved into a new place and changed jobs. It was a real shame as I'd have loved to see her again and I don't think hell or high water would have prevented me from attending the launch, especially if I'd actually won our category!

I know that it was particularly difficult for Lucie to get away from work so I hope she didn't get into too much trouble and that she has as much fun as I did!

After the Zumba class there was a presentation on the new Maxitone products, the brand and the vision for the women who use it.

As I mentioned in my post the other day I find it so encouraging and refreshing that there is a diet and nutrition brand that actively encourages you to go out and exercise! There's so much focus nowadays on simply eating less food, and not enough on actually doing MORE!! Maxitone is not aimed at people who want a quick fix in return for more sofa & soaps time, they're a company who want you to improve, enhance and ultimately elongate your life by getting active and engaging in physical activity.

I'd got engrossed in the presentation and forgot that I had a camera but I managed to whip it out in time to capture this slide which gives you a broad idea about the aim of the nutritional advantages of the products.

After the presentation, Lucie and I decided to go try out the lush cocktails that were on offer

Here Lucie is drinking a 'Definity Mojito' while modelling one of the Maxitone T-shirts we got...

And here I am with one of each also :-)

I also couldn't resist the 'Sculptress Martini' - how fab does this look?!!

While propping up the bar sampling the yummy cocktails (well, it would have been rude not to!) I got talking to Lindsay and persuaded her, despite having just taken a Zumba class, to have her picture taken:

She still looks great mind, although here's her looking even more amazing in one of the pics on her profile page - She was a runner up in the World Sports Model 2009 competition!!

Look at that stomach, I don't remember ever being as envious of a tummy before that night, ha! :-)

Aside from looking great and being a fabulous instructor, she is also lovely to talk to and we had a good old chin-wag. It turns out that, as well as being a Zumba instructor and presenter - representing the brand globally as well as in the UK - she is also running a fabulous brand new exercise class called Disco Health Club, based at the Green Carnation in Soho, London - honestly I don't know where she finds the time!!


Launched on Wednesday 13th January 2010, Disco Health Club is an innovative concept that allows girls and guys to keep fit while dancing along to their favourite disco classics, all in the surroundings of a West End club

This class looks hugely fun and exciting so I'm hoping to pop along one day and check it out - if only to get the opportunity to dress like something out of a Jane Fonda video - long-term blog readers will *know* how much I like dressing up!!

It was great to chat to Lindsay, I love meeting people as passionate about sports and fitness as I am and I think it was quite a coup that Maxitone were able to secure her for the evening as the Zumba class was fantastic and I also can't wait to try one out again. That being said, I think I might buy a DVD first to get used to some of the moves - although everyone can do it, I doubt there are many as uncoordinated as I am, I want to practice at home!!

I also had a good chat with Maxitone's nutritionist whose name annoyingly I didn't take down, we were having a chat about using Maxitone products in food as I use protein powder both in my savoury as well as sweet treats, here are some recipes from the Maxitone site. She had some other great ideas that I'm looking forward to seeing appear on the website, especially the one for quiche. She's been a vegetarian for 20 years now so getting enough high quality protein from other sources in her diet is something that's very important to her.

Finally I got to talk to Wole later after he'd finished giving a PT session to a lucky lady from Women's Fitness Magazine (one of the women's few women's sports magazines I actually rate as it's not patronising, gossipy and I haven't yet seen an article encouraging you to do biceps curls with baked bean cans).

It's fantastic to see that

a) he still looks just as good as he did when he was 18 because, as much genetics obviously play a large part in how you look when you reach maturity, if you don't take on adquate nutrition and put the hours of training in as you age, then genetics will only carry you so far and there'll be a very limited timeframe during which you look your best!

and b) he's still as passionate about his training and getting results.

Whatever he's doing, it's obviously still working and, to top it off he's keen so show others how to reach their potential, which is just fantastic!

I'm hoping to get a training session in with Wole at some time soon, which would be superb :-)

For those of you who think that Wole looks that way just because he he drinks a few protein shakes and maybe lifts a couple of weights then think again! You don't get to look that good unless you train well, take on correct and adequate nutrition and have a great work ethic to boot!

Wole gets up early, trains people until around the middle of the day, then has a few hours which he devotes purely to his own training before he starts his firefighter shift later that day.

He works hard and he looks great, he puts the time in and he gets the results out, simple but *definitely* not easy!!

Oh and he runs six miles EVERY day. As Wole says "Cardio is King", and you're not going to get to look like one unless you're willing to do some! It's that kind of thinking that secured him a sub 4 hour time in last year's New York Marathon! Finishing in under 03:51 is amazing for a fella of his size and he was deservedly very pleased :-)

I left INC Space with a fab sports bag containing a Maxitone Shaker, snazzy new waterbottle, (though unfortunately no hoodie which was a shame as we thought we might get one), a whole box of yummy Definity Crisp Bars! (review to follow), and a renewed appreciation for the benefits of exercise and good nutrition!

I love being sporty and enthusing over sporty matters with equally like-minded sporty people. What a fabulous evening, still grinning, thank you Maxitone!!


Friday, 5 February 2010

Product Review: Maxitone Sculptress Bar (plus some thoughts on long-term health and happiness)

I was both excited and apprehensive about trying these bars as I'm totally still in love with the Maximuscle Promax Diet Bars after munching on them for the best part of a year...

...which is very unusual for me as I'm so fickle and tend to go off things quite quickly - hence why I can never just stick to one sport and am an avid and enthusiastic collector of experiences (as well as sporty gear and gadgets!!) ;-)

I guess the main thing I was worried about was that they had modified the recipe to the point where the ingredients and taste were dramatically (and possibly detrimentally) dissimilar to the original.

I needn't have worried. Maxitone Sculptress bars appear to me to be Promax Diet bars in a pretty wrapper - which is fab news for all who already enjoy Promax bars, and also for those who have never tried them before and have been missing out thus far - everyone’s a winner! :-)

If they've altered the ingredients then the difference is too subtle for me to detect, which is GOOD!! I thoroughly subscribe to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" way of thinking :-D

However one clear distinction that I'm guessing is now apparent is that, whereas before Promax Diet was for both men and women, and that was it, now it would seem that, while we still have Maximuscle Promax Diet Bars for the guys (and the girls if they so wish), Maxitone Sculptress is specifically aimed at the girls and is there to complement the rest of the range. Which, as I mentioned in my post the other day which detailed my initial thoughts on Maxitone, is as far as I’m concerned - a good thing! We deserve our own female-specific nutrition brand!

In case you hadn’t noticed(!) I’m a very big fan of the Maximuscle/Maxitone protein shake range. From research and my own experiences I would consider drinking a protein shake as soon as possible after strenuous activity to be the very best means by which to get your protein - as the absorption rate is far superior to any other method. That being said I do consider the bars to be a superior in some respects due to, amongst other things, their portability - they travel so well!

So, if I were forced to choose between shakes and bars, bars would win hands down. You can take them anywhere, in fact I've taken them abroad with me a number of times! They don't melt like normal fatty chocolate bars and, even if they do get lost and squashed in your bag, they still taste just as lovely. Plus, if you start a bar and decide to eat the rest later it still tastes as good - it's *not* a good idea to do the same with a whey protein drink!! ;-)

So, like the original Promax Diet Bars, Maxitone Sculptress Bars are incredibly tasty, dense and filling considering how few calories there are - 205 per bar!! They provide more than 20g of protein and also over 5g of fibre which is fantastic as that, along with the protein, helps to fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, considering it is a 'chocolate' bar, it only contains 2.3g of saturated fat - that's pretty good huh?!

Also, because they have over 18g of carbohydrates too they make a pretty decent pre-workout meal/snack (best 2 - 2 1/2 hours beforehand to ensure digestion and processing is complete)

These bars are a perfect complement to a healthy diet. But be under no illusion, they will NOT make you lose weight just by eating them alone. They, like the shakes, are designed to work in unison with your weight-loss programme and support your goals by providing you with optimum nutrition to both fuel your workouts and ensure adequate muscle recovery and rebuild afterwards.

You cannot think "Oh, I'll just sit on my bum, watch TV and take a few Maxitone products twice a day and that'll be enough to drop the pounds". If you want to lose weight you have to effect change and that includes removing the obstacles to your weight loss - the biggest being overeating, and/or eating the wrong types of food, and inactivity.

You will not see skinny, hungry looking hollow-eyed celebs endorsing these products, instead you will see slim, strong, healthy, sporty-looking real women who take their exercise and nutrition seriously.

These women are the ones we, and our daughters, should aspire to look like. Not the bony dull-eyed ‘celebrities’ whose gaunt shapeless frames we’re forced to stare at in the media and believe to be the look we’re meant to strive to achieve!

I don't think that Maxitone products are intended for those people looking for a quick fix, you have to put in the effort to see results - however, you will see them a lot faster if you have the right systems in place to support your goals. Get the exercise right, and the nutrition spot on and you will transform your body, trust me.

Of course, Maxitone recognises that it's not always easy to eat 100% healthily and that it's important to treat yourself from time to time and not feel like you're missing out. After all, if something is unpleasant then it's not going to be sustainable. That's why it's so good that Maxitone products are so flippin tasty! The Sculptress bars are delicious and filling and the Definity Crisp bars are enough to satisfy any sweet toothed snacker without causing the ensuing guilt that often follows! I'll review Definitey Crisp another time though, they're so yummy they deserve their own post :-)

Unlike basically all the other weight-loss products you find on the 'diet shelf', Maxitone doesn't make false promises like you'll "drop lbs within days", or claim to be able to remove fat from the food you consume, or, like a popular breakfast cereal, instruct you to replace your morning and lunch time meal with their products in order to "drop a dress size". Maxitone wants you to get up and get active whilst also eating sensibly - Maxitone wants you to set in place good and healthy long-term habits. After all, what happens when you stop eating that cereal for breakfast and lunch, or stop taking those diet pills and return to whatever pattern of eating and inactivity that encouraged the weight gain in the first place? I tell you what happens, you gain the weight back, and then some more for good measure!!

So isn't it refreshing to have a brand that actually encourages you to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle? As someone who spent over half her life in a negative relationship with both food and her body, I get very excited by companies and products that promote positive body change through a combination of healthy sensible eating and exercise. A company that endorses a strong, healthy and, above all: achievable look is one that wins my vote any day.

In short, if you don't want to put in any work but want an easy quick fix which may assist you in losing a few pounds but will pretty much guarantee that as soon as you stop whatever 'programme' you're following you will put the weight back on - with interest - then stick to the Slim-Fast, or the Lighter Life, or the Lipobind, the Adios, the Special K.... the quick-fix list goes on and on, so much to choose from but nothing there to enact long-term change

If however you want a strong, but sleek, lean, healthy, firm shapely and toned body - one that you can be proud of - and you’re interested in seeing if and how Maxitone can help you achieve this then visit the Maxitone site for yourself. Check out the nutrition information and meal plans, take note of the exercise advice and examples and then choose the products which you think will best support your goals. If in doubt, ask the experts, or you can even ask me about my own experiences if you like, but all I would ask that you not expect it to be easy.

If it's quick and easy then it's probably not worth doing, nothing that important is. As the saying goes “a road without obstacles probably doesn’t lead anywhere”.

If you really and truly want to want to lose weight, keep it off and achieve the body of your dreams, then you need to put the work in. Ultimately it will be so worth it and the sense of achievement you get at the end is better than you could every imagine. But you need to be prepared to work for it.

Us humans aren’t designed to sit at desks, on computers or sofas all day, we’re built to move and keep on moving, it’s what we’re good at, we’re capable of amazing feats of endurance. Before our weapons were advanced enough to catch our prey from afar we had to rely on our legs and our ability to run our prey down, however long it took. Some of us humans still enjoy that, like my nutty endurance running friend Dave, the Subversive Runner - he runs ultra marathons for FUN!! Now, I don’t have a burning desire to run a marathon but I fully intend to walk a few in my lifetime, all in aid of keeping on moving.

We’re also not designed to eat junk food. A fellow blogger, Chocolate Button, posted this YouTube clip about a McDonald’s cheeseburger which, despite being left in the air for four years, without any form of preservation, hadn’t aged a bit - it’s quite scary really, it can’t be real food, real food decomposes! So if something is that far removed from being a real food, how is our body supposed to know what to do with it when we consume it?

So, why not commit to starting to take yourself, your health and your nutrition, seriously - today! It will be the best decision you ever make. If you put the effort in, you will get the results you want, not immediately, but give yourself time, because time is what you’ll get back. The healthy changes you make now ensure that you live longer and feel fitter, stronger and happier for years to come.

If you stick at it I promise you that you succeed - in fact, you can't fail! I guarantee you that very positive change you make, no matter how small, will pay you back tenfold in years to come.

Stay strong, live long, feel happy and look great.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

'A List' Hollywood Party

I'm still waiting on some pics from the Maxitone Launch Party last week so won't update you on that until I've seen them (got one yesterday though of me performing some balancing act with a PT!! :-D )

I will however share a rather good evening that took place the very next day...

While our current leisure benefits co-ordinator was away on a secondment somewhere, she was replaced by a rather fabulous guy called Adam (who also rather fabulously has the same surname as me - top guy!) who secured some superb local deals, discounts and offers.

He's had to go back to his usual day job as the original lady has come back *sob* but his final act, his swansong, was to organise an 'A List' Hollywood themed party for all of us based at head office.

What a legend.

The whole night cost me a fiver, Joe was £20 as he's not a partner, still amazing value!

The venue for the event was Tiger Tiger on Haymarket in Soho. I'd never been to the place before and didn't know what a huge venue it was - really nice too with a big club area 3 floors high at the back!

Here we are at the start of the night following our 'red carpet entrance', I love it when Joe dresses up. The dress code was black-tie which was not something that everyone (i.e. the men) adhered too unfortunately! Obviously all the women made a fantastic effort though which is pretty usual!

Here's my outfit. I was going to wear a spangly dress of some description but as I spent the whole of the Maxitone launch party the night before in sporty clothing I thought I'd wear the outfit I'd picked out for that instead!

I love the skirt, I bought it the weekend before in a sale and it cost me a meagre £10 from a fabulous boutique-style shop near me in Herne Hill called Dust.

In fact you can still buy the skirt online for only £15! (I bought my son one of their "Brockwell Park is Sick" T-shirts too, that went down well :-) )

Here's my top, I bought it ages ago from (as seen on screen), I love that site, have used it for years since the company first started, though I have to actively restrain myself from visiting it as they have such bargains and lovely clothes too, great designers and their own brand stuff is super too!

This top is a 'halter-neck' style but unlike normal tops/dresses where you tie the loops round your neck, this one has two 2m long straps that you can wind round your body! It's probably too dark to see but I had wrapped them round me a few times (probably didn't do much for my waistline but I don't care as I love that top!)

So, onto the fab extras that Adam had organised.

Look at this beauty. It was pure white Belgium chocolate. The man who ran it was lovely and had a constant smile on his face, which wasn't really surprising, what a job to have eh?

Apparently the best combination was grape and fudge :-)

Obviously Joe was unable to resist, I however showed the upmost restraint, honest....

okay.... busted!!!

They also had a milk chocolate fountain (always wondered why it isn't just called 'brown chocolate' if the other's referred to as 'white chocolate' ;-) ) but it wasn't nearly as nice as the white... obviously we tested this fact thoroughly!! ;-)

There was also a dude with a candyfloss machine.... OMG I was in sugary heaven!!!

Not sure what Joe's doing here, it looks either like he's about to audition for a Father Christmas role or is exhaling a cloud of white smoke!!

As well as the glorious chocolate fountains, the free candy floss and ice-cream, the complimentary picture in a frame (which currently holds pride of place on our fireplace :-) ) casino tables and champagne fountain...

...there was also a bloody brilliant band!

Some of you may remember that I played Charlotte Lucas in a fabulous outdoor production of Pride & Prejudice last year?

To refresh your memory, here I am with "Lizzie" (Emily) and "Mr Darcy" (Phil)

Well, Emily, aside from being a fantastic actress is also an amazing singer and was at the party looking very rock-chick glam wearing a fab one-shoulder version of the lovely green dress from my December pictures post? which she teamed up with some awesome shoes and superb fingerless gloves.

Here she is belting out some absolute tunes with her band Moko!! She does a mean 'Mr Brightside', she's got such a fantastic voice!

Here we are afterwards, doesn't she look gorgeous!

Phil was there too and still able (and willing!) to recreate his 'Darcy' face immediately on demand!

Some more of my favourite colleagues were there. This is my friend Claire who is the ultimate girly-girl i.e. hair and makeup always in place, skirts, heels, the lot (e.g. opposite of me!) in fact I have *never* seen her wear trousers and as far as I know she only once wore a pair of jeans for 'novelty value'!

Despite all this she has a mad adventurous sporty streak (the first day I met her she insisted on climbing a tree) and is the most game bird going! We're actually both going to do the Three Peaks Challenge later this year (but more about that in another post!!)

And here is Chloe from my very own department, she always looks glamorous and brings a touch of class to our office which is pretty hard to do given the nature of our business! :-)

Obviously my boyfriend also looked gorgeous and deserved a kiss for looking so damn fine

After the band finished the usual cheesy pop and R&B tunes were played but they were actually alright and had lots of fun dancing around as you can see:

I'm not going to post *all* of the ridiculous drunken pics I took but, to give you an idea, here are a few to give you an idea...!

Joe and I were meant to be doing 'The Robot' but I've been told that I look like I'm rocking a baby so I don't think I quite achieved the look somehow!!

When one bottle just isn't enough...

Heh, Emily and I were a little more tipsy and less composed by this point...!

*More* drunken dancing!

It all goes pretty much downhill from there ;-)

A great night though and a credit to Adam, superbly planned and executed, what a star!


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Product review: 9 Bar

As a self-confessed health food junkie, I am always on the look out for nutritious alternatives to existing snacks and just generally other yummy goodness to supplement my diet with.

Also, now that Joe's started cycling again he needs good solid healthy fuel to keep him going on those long rides and prevent him from turning into a grumpy hungry monster when he gets back home afterwards (believe me, it's not pretty!!)!

Anyway, the other day I saw a 3 pack of 'original' 9Bars the other day and thought I'd try them out.


If you haven't tried these bars yet I implore you to do so!

Like Nakd bars they're made by cold-pressing the ingredients together. This removes the necessity for unnatural and unhealthy binding ingredients and processes and in doing so ensures that everything contained inside is nutritious and free of hidden nasties.

I would add a caveat to my enthusiastic ranting though and ask that if you're trying to lose weight, please bear in mind that these bars not a 'light snack' but more of a 'meal in a bar' as they are quite calorie and fat (as well as nutritionally) dense at 277 Cals and over 20g of fat (although definitely classified as 'good' fat :-) ). So unless you've allowed for it in your daily calorie allowance, or missed a meal and need to refuel, or are engaging in something relatively active etc it would be wise to not eat a whole bar in one sitting!

I say 'wise', though actually it's pretty much almost impossible... to avoid scoffing the lot at once, I've taken to cutting a bar in half lengthways into 'fingers' and taking one with me a day to work for my mid-morning/afternoon snack!

Don't just take it from me though, if you'd like to try a bar for free to see what you think then click here and fill in your details, you won't regret it, trust me!


P.S. Inspired by these bars I decided to make my own version over the weekend... results were rather good actually considering I guesstimated the whole!! I want to make some moderations though but will post recipe and pics of my first attempt anyway soon so you can see what you think! :-)