Saturday, 30 April 2011

DIET: The Beginning Of A New Me

OK, I've taken the plunge and am on a diet as of today (30th April 2011). I would like to give a huge thank you to Slimavite who are providing me with the milkshakes for my diet as part of their trial.

I was ashamed when I finally got on the scales and my weight came in as 15st 2lb - at 5' 3" this makes me very much overweight. I was even more horrified at my waist size - an horrific 48" was what I saw.

I've wanted to lose weight for quite some time. I used to be a clothes size 12/14 (not sure on the weight) before I had my son, but that was more than 8 years and 7 months ago when I gave birth to him and the added weight never went away and I didn't put any effort into shifting it. Instead taking to eating what I like, whenever I like  and gaining even more weight.

I have tried a calorie controlled diet previously using Slim Fast, but I gave in, mainly due to the fact that I was finding it quite costly.

I've been saying for a while I want to lose weight - I'm sick and tired of feeling drained of energy and not being able to do as much with my 8 year old son as I would like. So when I heard from a friend (Sandy Hallett) on Twitter about the Slimavite trial, I was very eager. I would like to thank Sandy for making me aware of it.

I'd been putting off starting, but the decider for me was that I won £2,000 in holiday vouchers from Vue Cinemas back in January 2011 and I knew I would finally be able to visit my dream destination of Cairo, Egypt and I knew I would be going to the beach at some point and I don't want to be the "big beached whale" - that, plus I'm sick of wearing frumpy, unflattering clothes because that is all that is available in my size!

Today, my meals were made up of:

Breakfast - N/A (I got up too late for breakfast)
Dinner - A Slimavite strawberry milkshake
Tea - Jerk chicken with rice and black eyed beans (I was a bit naughty as I had a small glass of wine as we had family & friends around for tea)
Snacks - Low fat yoghurt, 2 bananas
Drinks - Strawberry & vanilla sparkling water, 2 cups of coffee, small glass of wine

I found myself feeling quite full after the milkshake. It didn't stop me yearning for a bar of choccy or a biscuit, but I made sure I didn't buy any when I went shopping yesterday, instead buying fruit, salad and healthy yoghurts for if I needed a snack. I'm quite pleased with my ability to resist my urges - but it is only the first day - better hope it continues!

I must say, I don't want to sound ungrateful to Slimavite, because I really am grateful, but I did prefer the Slim Fast milkshakes. Why? Because the Slimavite has bits in (I think it's granola or something) and I really can't stand bits in drinks (I do realise it is a meal replacement, but bits are a no, no for me) - mainly due to the fact that I have enlarged tonsils (this is a permanent thing) and I spend a very long time eating food (I have to chew food to oblivion basically to prevent me choking), so drinking a drink with bits in is very much a challenge for me - it often sticks at the back of my throat thus irritating it and causing me to cough a lot. I assume the majority of people don't have the same problem as me though, so for most people this wouldn't be a problem. The taste itself is fine, quite nice actually. The strawberry tastes of strawberry (though the after taste is a little straw-like because of the bits). The consistency is nice as well - not too thick like a McDonald's milk shake, but not so thin it's like water either. Despite the bits in the drink, I'm going to push forward with the Slimavite as it does have a nice taste and it's worth the difficulties with my throat so I can lose weight.

I'm going to post short daily updates on my progress over on this page - DIET PROGRESS - so please have a look there regularly and see how I'm doing.


My dreaded "before" pictures:

Thursday, 28 April 2011

REVIEW: Super High Power Spanx Shapewear

I was lucky enough to be chosen to review the new shapewear called 'Spanx' from Tightsplease and I had the chance to try them out yesterday.

Most often, I wear shapewear with a dress as the last thing I want is my flabby layers showing through my dress! I often have the problem, however, that they only go to your waist which leave flab hanging over the top. I also find they squash flab mid-way on your thighs too because of the seam band.

My first impressions when I took the Spanx shapewear out of the packet was "Wow! They're small - how am I going to fit into them?" - they were the size I had requested, but they looked about the size of a kid or a very slim person. I expected they would stretch, but looking at their original size, I thought to myself, "No way are these going to fit" - I am astounded and really pleased to say they did - I was very shocked - you would not believe just how much they stretch!

I love the fact that they go right up to your chest - it meant that all the flab was held back with no big belly hanging over the top like usual shapewear does. The lack of leg band on the seam also meant those thigh bulges were a thing of the past too. I'd read the claims of what the shapewear could do, but I had my reservations, as the ones I have used in the past have left me disappointed. I can honestly say that this wasn't the case with the Spanx shapewear.

They are very comfortable to wear - when sitting, I was not in any discomfort and when walking around they were very comfortable. I also found them very 'airy' which was good as I find wearing shapewear and lycra undergarments often leaves you uncomfortably sweaty and prone to chafing. This wasn't the case with these. I was very surprised as lots of things make claims about how great they are, but very rarely live up to your expectations.

The only negative aspect for me was the name 'Spanx' - it's a really bizarre name and just makes me think of all things kinky (not that I think things like that a lot! It's just what springs to mind when I hear it).

They are fantastic value for money at £33 and are available in black or fleshtone depending on what you prefer and in a wide variety of sizes - you can buy them from Tightsplease here.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

April - A Busy Month

Well, I've had a busy time recently, albeit it in a good way, but very busy and tiring nonetheless! The sunshine has inspired me!

14th April
Me and the hubby took our 8 year old son, David and my 9 year sister, Latisha out for the day. We took them to see Megamind 3D with the Sky Kids 3D Club at Cineworld which they really enjoyed and for £6 for all for of us - it was a bargain trip out. After that, in the afternoon, we went to Otterspool Park here in Liverpool, it is not our nearest park, but it is very beautiful and also has a lovely play area for the kids. On top of that, there is the lovely promenade with a gorgeous view, so worth the extra distance and besides, we all had saveaways which are tickets that can be used all day on the buses and trains in our local area which cost a little over £10 for all 4 of us! In the evening, we went to something called Shiverpool - which is a ghost tour of Liverpool's haunted spots as well as some interesting history/stories along the way. I got a coupon on LivingSocial and it only cost £15 for a family ticket instead the usual £50 I think it is! It was really good fun and the kids loved it equally. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a ghost, but really good fun anyway!

David & Tisha at Otterspool Park

17th April
Me and the hubby took David and Latisha to the World Museum in the morning which was really brilliant - we only had enough time to visit the Space section, Ancient Egypt section and Aquarium though. Then we went to something called Pirates Ahoy at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall using tickets I won - it was not something I would have normally thought to go too, but the kids really enjoyed it. It's basically an introduction to classical music for children, but it was really, really fun and I have to admit, I found it quite entertaining too. In the evening, we all went to Jungle Rumble which was mini adventure golf and cost £20 for all of us for 1 game, but it was very fun and entertaining - it's something that's amazing for adults and kids!

David playing mini golf
Pirates Ahoy

19th April
Me and the hubby went to London - the Cineworld at the O2 in Greenwich to be precise - for the UK premiere of the film Arthur. Neither of us have been to a premiere before but it was really amazing! We got a great spot right at the front where the celebs first arrive right next to the red carpet! Russell Brand, Dame Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig were all close enough to touch! Stupidly, we forgot to take a pen and something to get signed, so we missed out on all of the autographs :( Got some brilliant photo's though. We also got pics of Katy Perry, Noel Gallagher, Jason Winer and David Baddiel! It was truly amazing! I'm so grateful to Cineworld on Twitter as that's where I won the tickets and the admittance to the red carpet audience. It cost a lot of money (around £150 in total!) but it was worth it. We were going to go by coach, but we hired a car in the end - it took a little over 4 hours to get there. We got home about 6am by the time we'd gone for something to eat and had stopped a couple of times to get some coffee. Hubby was amazing as I don't drive so it was  a long drive overall for him there and back. A special thanks to my Mum who looked after David for us while we went.

Noel Gallagher

Dame Helen Mirren

Geraldine James

The film was amazing - if you haven't seen it yet, you should go out and see it. Russell Brand is as outrageously funny as ever - I'm not just biased having been a fan of him for quite some time either - there are so many laughs - it's not often in a comedy film that I laugh, but I was laughing through a lot of the film. I think it shows how versatile and talented as an actor Russell is as well, because you also get to see a more serious side to him too. All of the stars were very approachable and nice too, which very much surprised me - not at all rigid and in a dash as I was maybe expecting them to be. Russell enjoyed a snog with Dame Helen Mirren too at the premiere which was quite funny! I've not seen the original Arthur film, but it is half as good as this one, it must be great! Russell really does a fantastic job of playing Arthur - he was made for a role like that. I think Dame Helen Mirren plays Hobson brilliantly too - she makes at least as many laughs in the film as Russell - she is an excellent actress. The film has loads of laughs, but also some very sad moments too. I'd say more, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. All I will say is, you'll love the first Darth Vader mask scene and also the magnetic bed scene!

Katy Perry

Russell Brand

Russell Brand

22nd April
Me and the hubby took David and Latisha to the World Museum again to finish off were we left off last time - this was the duck hunt they wanted to do as well as visit the DNA section, a chance to visit the Planetarium (which was a show about the stars and the planets which is a very unique experience). They also bought a duck each in the Liverpool Duck Race which cost £2 (go and buy one - it's for a good cause and you might win £2k!), but it is for charity (Cash For Kids, Claire House in association with Radio City and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Services) and the owner of the duck that wins, also wins £2,000. We are going to take them to watch the duck race on 9th July at the Pier Head which will make another fun day out for them, I'm sure! Then we went to the Walker Art Gallery to see some of the wonderful pictures and sculptures.

Paul and me

David & Tisha sitting on a monument at St John's Gardens

24th & 25th April
Hubby and I went to Edinburgh for the weekend which was really nice. We don't often get time to ourselves. Hubby had won some first class train tickets from @TPExpressTrains on Twitter so we chose to go to Scotland. We booked a night in Travelodge Haymarket which only cost £15 on special offer and the room was actually quite nice - check-in was quick. It was only a 5 minute bus ride from Waverley Station as well which was magnificent. The train ride took from 11:22 until 16:14 - although it was not flawless - both the TP Express website and on the phone on the day told us it was 1 change at Leeds when in reality, some of the TP services were not running and were replaced with bus services, so in actual fact we shouldn't have got the train to Leeds - instead spending around 8 hours to get from Liverpool to Edinburgh as it included some bus routes. Fortunately, we came across a very nice train manager on the train we were told to get, which turned out to actually be a Virgin train, who was very kind and didn't want to spoil our weekend so let us on anyway - which I'm sure was risking his job, so we were very, very grateful. Rather annoyed at TP Express, however. I know it was free as Paul had won the tickets, but we were only going for 2 days/1 night, so it simply would not have even been worth going with the 8 hour journey. Not to mention, if that kind train manager had not let us on, we'd have spent 2 hours getting to Leeds, only to have to spend 2 hours coming back to Liverpool, by which point we'd have missed the other train we should have been on and probably missed out entirely, even if we had wanted to spend approximately 8 hours getting there! But we got there and found out which buses we could get, checked into the hotel and had a cup of coffee in our room. Then we headed out to see some of the sites at night and take some photo's - we also got some souvenirs from a late opening souvenir shop. The hotel room was nice - spacious and the bed was really comfy - we had a kettle and TV in the room, clean towels and a nice shower and separate toilet - an absolute bargain for £15.


I love this sinister looking photo of Paul outside Holyrood House at night

Edinburgh Castle

Scottish Parliament

The next morning we got up at 7am and headed out to see the sites in daylight and take some more photo's (of St. Giles Cathedral, Scotts Monument, The Queens Gallery, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood House etc.). We stopped around 10am for breakfast at a lovely little café on the Royal Mile - I had a standard breakfast (egg, bacon, toast, sausage, beans, potato cake and tomato) with a latte and Paul had a vegetarian breakfast (eggs, toast, potato cake, beans and tomato) with a cappuccino - the latte was the most delicious cup of latte I have ever tasted - overall, it was quite expensive for what it was though at over £16! Would have gone to McDonald's but they didn't do any vegetarian breakfast items for Paul. After that we went to the Museum of Edinburgh which was delightful - I'm sure I saw a ghost though! I couldn't find any reasonable explanation for what I saw as I checked all reflections and there was no other displays in the room either! It was a woman in really old fashioned clothing with long ginger hair - I was taking a photo of a scene display and could see it through my camera on my phone, but it didn't show up in the picture and it was gone once I put my phone down and I could not find any reasonable explanation as to what it could be otherwise! Weird! After that we went to Edinburgh Castle which is a truly amazing site to behold, and even better if you buy tickets to visit inside like we did. We were there in time to see the guns being fired at 1pm. We saw the cannons, visited the old prison cells, saw the breathtaking views from the viewpoints of the castle, visited the great hall, war memorial - so much to see and do actually - we actually ran out of time before needing to catch our train home at 4.15pm. I wish we could have stayed longer! It was really nice to get some time together with Paul as it's been quite some time since we last did! We got to enjoy going to the places we wanted for a change instead of what David wanted to go to - we love him very much, but it was a nice change - I'm sure other parents know what I mean! A very big thanks to my Mum who looked after him again.

Scotts Monument

St. Giles Cathedral

The Queens Gallery

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Win £100 To Spend With Kitchen Stools Direct

Exciting news everyone! This is your opportunity to win £100 to spend at Kitchen Stools Direct.

Who are Kitchen Stools Direct?
Well, Kitchen Stools Direct sell a fabulous, extensive range of kitchen and bar stools - they have something to fit in with everyone's kitchen, be it traditional, contemporary or unique.

What can I buy with my £100 if I win?
Well, there are many things you can buy. Below, I have given details on a few of the many available:

Pod Bar Stool - You have got to love this stool! This contemporary stool is very unique and it's such an amazing design, your friends won't be able to do anything except stare in awe! Very much a bargain too at just £49.99 - you could buy two of them if you were to win. The stool is available in 7 fantastic colours - black, blue, pink, red, silver, white and yellow - so something to such each persons individual choice and colour scheme. It has gas lift seat height adjustment, has an ABS plastic swivel seat top, footrest and chrome base. Perfect for your home bar.

Bentwood Faux Leather Kitchen Stool - I think this is my personal favourite. It is very modern - looks very comfy. This is a gorgeous stool in black - perfect for your breakfast counter or home bar. It has a luxurious, padded, faux-leather seat top, gas lift, 360°rotating seat top and chromed stainless steel footrest and leg. A great price at £99.85 too - you could buy it with your win!

Vista Bar Stool Chrome - This Vista bar stool comes in an iconic pyramid shape with a polished chrome finish. I find it is a very surreal, unique design that would add piqued interest to your home bar. It is very fashionable and modern and its chrome finish means it would fit in with any décor. It has a solid four leg construction, chrome plated finish and is stainless steel. You could afford a pair of these with your win.

OK, you've seen some examples and you're hooked now right? So now you just want to know...


The giveaway rules:
  1. To participate in the contest to win a Kitchen Stools Direct gift voucher worth £100, you need to copy and paste the following tweet on Twitter: "Kitchen Stools Direct has some fab bar stools in stock. Check it out #KSDMyRandomBlurb"
  1. The winner will be chosen randomly and the competition is only open to UK resident
  2. The competition will run from 17th April 2011 until 1st May 2011.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Win A Manchester United Mug - Ends 09/05

I have another wonderful prize giveaway - this one is for all of you Man Utd fans out there.  I am giving away a fantastic Manchester United mug. The competition will run until 9th May 2011. UK entrants only.

1) Follow my blog and leave a way of contacting you such as your Twitter username or your e-mail address
2) Follow me on Twitter @MySonsSpongeMad
3) Post this to Twitter "I want to win a Manchester United mug with @MySonsSpongeMad and #MyRandomBlurb - ends 09/04 ENTER HERE"

Post below (all in one comment) to let me know you have done these and you will be entered.

4) Follow @Xtermin8_net on Twitter (1 entry - post in a separate comment and let me know that you have)
5) Follow @spacefreight on Twitter (1 entry - post in a separate comment and let me know that you have)
6) Post a meaningful comment on any other blog post I have made (excluding competition posts) and leave a separate comment to say you have done so and which post(s) you have commented on (1 entry | maximum of 3 comments on different blog posts means you can get up to 3 extra entries)
7) Subscribe to my blog mailing list on the right hand side of the blog (please rest assured you will only ever receive e-mails from this blog) and leave a comment to let me know you have done so (1 entry)

Win A Pair Of Tickets To Ascot Racecourse - Ends 24/04

OK, up for grabs this time, I have a pair of Grandstand tickets for Ascot Racecourse for 27th April 2011. The competition will run until 24th April and is open to UK entrants only.

If you've always wanted to go to the races, then this is for you. Two tickets available for two people to enter the Grandstand on 27th April 2011. The gates open at 11am - there is no strict dress code, but they prefer smart clothing.

1) Make sure you are following my blog
2) Post a comment on this post to say you are following my blog and leave a way of contacting you such as your Twitter account or e-mail address

3) Follow me on Twitter @MySonsSpongeMad and leave a separate comment to say you have done so (1 entry - you will also get this if you were already following - just post and let me know)
4) Post this to Twitter "I want to win tickets to Ascot Racecourse with @MySonsSpongeMad and #MyRandomBlurb - ends 24/04 ENTER HERE" and leave a separate comment to say you have done so (1 entry | maximum 10 entries posting no more than once a day)
5) Post a meaningful comment on any other blog post I have made (excluding competition posts) and leave a separate comment to say you have done so and which post(s) you have commented on (1 entry | maximum of 3 comments on different blog posts means you can get up to 3 extra entries)
6) Subscribe to my blog mailing list on the right hand side of the blog (please rest assured you will only ever receive e-mails from this blog) and leave a comment to let me know you have done so (1 entry)