Thursday, 12 April 2012

Nibble and Graze

Hey beauts! I recently started a new job and have fallen into the bad habit of drinking lots of coffee/tea and snacking on biscuits/cakes at my desk. When I wrote up this post it reminded me that I needed to refrain from binging on junk even more so now that I sit behind a desk for the majority of my day. Then, a few days ago I read a blog post on the lovely Asmaa's blog about Graze boxes (click the link to read her post).

Now unlike monthly beauty boxes (yawn) this is a box of tasty, healthy, nutritious snacks which are delivered to your door. You can choose from over 100 different snacks including, olives, nuts, fruits and fresh breads and then rate them based on your preferences so that you receive the ones you liked more often. I love this concept as I knew this would allow me to snack at my desk but without feeling guilty about it afterwards. I ordered my first box (which was free thanks to Asmaa) and it arrived in yesterday's post.

I received Basil and Garlic Olives, White Choc Raspberry Cheesecake, Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks and Tom Yum Yum.

I took the box into work today and tried out two of the snacks I received. In the morning I tried the White Choc Raspberry Cheesecake, which is a mixture of hazelnuts, white chocolate buttons and raspberry infused cranberries. This box works with their 80/20 formula which contains 80% of goodness (the fruit and nuts) and 20% treat (the chocolate). The hazelnuts had a very strong taste because the skins were left on. I found them to be quite peppery and overpowering. The cranberries were juicy and sweet and tasted very fresh and pleasant - a mixed reaction for this one from me.

Later on in the afternoon today I tried Tom Yum Yum. This was a disappointing snack for me. I expected these to have a lovely oriental taste, but the lime leaves completely overpowered the smell and taste of anything else. I also don't like (more like, can't hack) spice and these were a little too spicy for my liking also. I offered these to my family and no one liked this box too much.

I haven't yet tried the olives and flapjacks but overall I do love the whole concept and for my first (free) box I am quite impressed. Looking forward to the next one now and here's to guilt free snacking!

Graze boxes are just £3.49 each and you can receive your first box for free also when you sign up using the code F5PY5NK on the Graze website

Have you tried Graze boxes yet? Let me know if you have and what your thoughts are on them!

Numera x

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

100 Followers MAC Giveaway WINNER!

Thank you to everyone who entered my MAC lipstick giveaway in celebration of me reaching 100 followers on my blog. You girls (and silent male followers) are amazing and the giveaway was just a little something to show my gratitude for the support.

I sorted through all the entries last night and I was so amazed and overwhelmed (in a good way!) at how many of you took the time to enter! I finally tallied up all the entries and used to pick a winner so that it stayed as fair as possible.

So without further delay, the winner of my giveaway is...


Congratulations my lovely! I will be contacting you via email and will confirm if your chosen MAC shade is available. 

Thank you so much to everyone who entered and please do not be disheartened if you didn't win this time as I will be holding another giveaway soon!

Numera x

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Henna/Mehndi Designs

When I was younger I used to watch my aunt apply mehndi (or henna) on mine and all my sisters/cousins' hands every Eid or time of celebration. I was fascinated with the intricate designs and the way her hands just flowed and held the cone shaped plastic which had the henna paste inside. As I got older, I tried to apply henna on people myself and with much practice over time, more people have asked me to apply it for them too!

For those who are interested, henna paste is made from henna leaves which have been ground up into powder form and then mixed with lemon and usually an oil such as eucalyptus oil. The paste is then applied to the skin and left to dry. After about an hour (or longer if you can leave it on the skin) the dried paste is removed to reveal the pattern which has been dyed on to the skin. Since the paste is made from a leaf, it is safe to use on your skin (but always remember to check the ingredients and maybe do a patch test, especially if you have sensitive skin).

Here are some of the designs I have done for people:

Designs for Eid or parties

Henna tattoo on the back of the neck

 Designs for an engagement party

Bridal Designs

Numera x

Monday, 9 April 2012

Workout Plan for Men (and Women!): The Ins and Outs to Getting In Shape

Hey loves hope you're all well. I have a different sort of post for you today, this is something which I have been excited to share with you for a while but I had to wait until the right time before I could write this up properly. As some of you may be aware, my other half is a big fitness fanatic and he agreed to help me with a short series of posts for my blog which focuses on how he has been getting in to shape recently. I think it is very important to look after your body and that how you feel on the inside will reflect on the outside, so keeping in shape is a great first step to achieving that positive feeling. I wrote out a number of questions for Waqar and asked him to answer them in as much detail and with as much information as he could. Be warned, this is a text heavy post but I promise it is worth the read!

Please keep in mind, although the answers have been given to me by a male, the general concept and advice still applies to both women and men. 

Why did you begin a diet/workout plan?
I was out of shape and didn’t have a healthy or consistent diet for a while and decided it was time to make a change in my life. In my mind I had an image of what I wanted to look like and I didn’t want to quit until I achieved it.

What was your starting weight and body fat percentage?
My starting weight in September 2011 was 98.5kg (217 lbs or 15.5 stones). Body fat percentage was around 25-27%

What is a cutting cycle?
A cutting cycle is a diet related term. It simply means to eat at a caloric deficit daily under your maintenance level to ensure consistent and healthy weight loss. Your maintenance level could be 1500, 2000 or 2500 calories etc. It is purely determined by your present weight and how active you are. A healthy deficit would be 10-20% under maintenance.

How does one determine their calorie maintenance level?
The simplest method of estimating needs is to base your intake on a standard 'calories per unit of weight (usually kilograms)'. Typically:
- 26 to 30 calories per kg a day for normal, healthy individuals with sedentary lifestyles doing little physical activity.
- 31 to 37 calories per kg a day for those involved in light to moderate activity 3-5 x a week with moderately active lifestyles.
- 38 to 40 calories per kg a day for those involved in vigorous activity and highly active jobs.

- To ADD weight: ADD 10-20% calories to the total above
- To LOSE weight: SUBTRACT 10-20% calories from the total above

Then monitor your results and adjust as required.

Photo taken at the beginning of the diet/workout plan around September 2011

How often do you go to the gym and how long does a typical workout last?
I go gym without fail five times a week. Each workout is fixed to 90 minutes as I’m strict with time and don’t laze about when I’m there. This is what worked for me but three times a week with the right routine can be just as effective.

What does your diet consist of? Describe a typical day in terms of what you eat.
Oatmeal, Chicken Breasts, Egg Whites, Wholegrain Brown Bread, Peanut Butter, Low Fat Strawberry Jam, Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice, Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Low Fat Ice Cream, Skimmed Milk, Apples, Greek Yoghurt 0% with Honey and Almonds, Protein Shake, Water!
The above is a typical list of what I buy in terms of food supply with the exception of water. But I drink lots of it. I’ll keep it simple in terms of what I could eat during a day with the average 3 meals a day plus snacks if needed.

Breakfast – Oatmeal with Skimmed Milk OR Egg Whites.
Lunch – Whole Grain Pasta with chopped tomatoes and onions OR two peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
Dinner – Chicken Breasts chopped up cooked in home made sauce and served with brown rice OR Chicken Breast grilled and served with broccoli and sweet potatoes.
Snacks – Apples, Protein Shake (compulsory for me), Almonds, Low fat ice cream, Greek Yoghurt.

I think it’s important to stress here that what you eat doesn’t matter much it’s ALL about how much you eat. Losing or gaining weight is strictly a numbers game and all that matters is whether you’re in surplus or deficit at the end of the day. I eat what I eat because it works for me. The only advice I can give is stay off the fizzy drinks and junk food such as crisps and fast food take away. If you must drink fizzy then stick to diet coke and keep it moderated.

Breakdown your gym routine for us from the moment you walk into the gym to the moment your workout is complete for the day.
Well I train different body parts on different days so the first 45 minutes will be weight exercises relevant to that body part. For example on Monday I work my Chest and Triceps and I will typically do four exercises for Chest and two exercises for Triceps on that day. The reason I only do two for Triceps on Monday is because I have a Bicep and Triceps dedicated workout on Thursday!
Each exercise will consist of 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps, I tend to mix it up every couple weeks so my body never gets accustomed. I get the best results this way.
Once that’s done I focus strictly on my abs for the next 15 mins and do 4 circuit sets which consist of Cable Crunches, Hanging Knee Raises and, Cable Twist Crunches. A circuit set in this case simply means doing all three exercises without rest.
Finally I finish it off with 30 mins of cardio where I always aim to burn 500 calories minimum.

Photo taken approximately half way through the diet/workout plan around December 2011

What is your favourite gym exercise and why?
Cable Crunches! Doing this for the last 4 months has helped me go from a belly to a six pack :-P.

Tell us about a point where motivation was low for you and how you overcame this.
Well I hit a major wall when I was around 85kg where my progress just stopped completely for a few weeks. This had a massive impact on my motivation as I was nowhere near my final goal (77kg) and I almost felt like there was nothing I could do to overcome this plateau. I had you to support me telling me not to give up and try and change things up a bit to see if that helps. So what I did was lower my calories slightly and do a longer cardio session (went from 15 to 18 mins). This gave me the edge I needed to break that wall. 

What is your current weight and body fat percentage? Total loss so far?
Current weight is 78.5kg and body fat percentage is 11-12%. Total loss so far is 20kg (44 lbs or 3.1 stones)

What happens now that you’ve finished this cutting cycle? Where do you go from here?
I plan to bulk for 4 months till the end of July where I will have hoped to pack on 5kg – majority of which will be muscle. From there I’ll cut down back to 79-80kg hoping to attain my long term goal which is 8% body fat rocking a very solid set of abs.

Photo taken at the end of the cutting cycle around March 2012

What keeps you motivated?
My beautiful yet annoying other half Numera. Hope you’re feeling appreciative while enjoying that pinkberry when I’m busting my ass in the gym lol.
(I would like to add that I did NOT pay him to write that!!! Ok, maybe I bought him some nandos..)

Do you have any tips for men who want to improve their fitness/lose weight/become stronger?
Depending on what your goals are; bulking up to gain muscle, cutting down to lose fat etc the main thing is to stay dedicated. Make a plan to go to gym however many times a week you can commit to (3-5 is enough) and be disciplined on your diet. You can cheat with your diet once a week if you wish as do I but don’t do it any more than that. Lift big and train hard. Finally, be patient. The results will take time to come but if you stick to it you’ll be loving it in the end.
I think a good tip would be to find a training partner who has similar goals to you so you can keep each other motivated.

Do you have any tips for women who want to improve their fitness/lose weight/become stronger?
Same advice as the guys really however I’m sure with woman lifting weights is a bit of a touchy subject because of some myth that they’re going to grow muscles and look like a man LOL. Most women who suddenly get interested in health and fitness do so because they want to lose weight so focusing on that group I’d say get lots of cardio in. Eat at a caloric deficit and do some weighted exercises. The weights will give your body definition and symmetry in the right places to improve your figure. If all you did was run on a treadmill all day yes you’d most likely lose the fat in time but you’d look like a STICK as you’d lose muscle too. No figure, no shape = FAIL.

What would you say to motivate someone who lacks motivation/does not see any point in all this?
For someone who lacks motivation but has an interest I’d say do some reading up, sign up to a local gym and try to make the effort in improving your fitness and body. Find something to motivate you, You could simply want to be more attractive to the opposite sex or just be stronger and fitter. If you have a friend who goes to the gym or is thinking of doing so maybe you can touch base with them and train together! There’s a massive community online and there are thousands of people going through the same situation as you.
The person who does not see the point of it I’d say continue being fat/skinny the rest of your life while the rest of us reap the benefits.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To train hard and never give up or make compromises. Always try to be better and never settle for ‘normal’.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Even if this motivates just one person to take that step and get into a gym/diet routine I’ll be happy with my contribution to this blog.

I know this was quite a long and detailed post with a LOT of information to take in, but I hope you enjoyed reading and please do leave your comments/questions for either myself or Waqar and I will try to get him to answer them for you!

Numera x

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Link Love

Hi beauts, I'm actually going to share the posts I've been reading over the last two weeks. I caught up with a lot of blog posts in the last couple of days and today especially!

Desi Girl Does Makeup by Rhamnousia

For a peek into lots of hauls and reviews of products, Rhamnousia's blog is fabulous. She talks about a huge variety of beauty and skincare products she uses and her thoughts on them. The above post is a breakdown in to eyebrow threading. I also have mine done on a regular basis and have been doing so for years and I think it is the best method to shape and clean your eyebrows. Her post is packed with information for anyone who isn't too sure about what threading is and are curious to maybe try it out.

Amy Antoinette by Amy

Amy's blog is lovely and girly and she covers everything from lipsticks to laptop cases! What caught my eye in the last two weeks is a series of posts on her blog which go through some of the lead up and aftermath of her beautiful wedding. The link above goes to the highlights video from her wedding day which is so stunning and really blew me away. It looked like she had the most amazing, happy day of her life which is exactly how a bride should look and feel on her big day.

Rosey Blushes And Beauty Crushes by Emma

Emma has a fresh and exciting blog with lovely, clear photographs and a huge variety of posts. She gives her in's and out's and shares her choice of music for each day. I love her outfit posts and if you know me personally, you will be aware that shoes are my weak spot and that I believe firmly that a girl can never have too many pairs. I love Emma's post on how to jazz up a pair of boring shoes that you may have worn countless number of times and maybe you're thinking of getting rid of them? Don't, because Emma shows you how to create a brand new pair of shoes with minimal fuss and effort (not to mention expenditure!)

Lipstick Loves

Lipstick Loves is written by a lovely lady whose blog link I got at TOWIB. It's a blog which has a wide variety of topics including many wedding related posts as she is currently planning her wedding. Lately she has been posting recipes which she has been trying at home and the above is her version of Spicy Falafels using a Goof Food recipe with her own tweaks which I love and can't wait to try for myself.

Pampered Prince Beauty by Andy

Ever wondered what that little logo is on your beauty products? Click the above link to find out! Andy's blog is the first male beauty blog I have subscribed to, and I read it on a regular basis. I love how he isn't afraid to test out all sorts of products and gives his honest opinion every time. He's a man that likes to take care of himself and appreciates all things beautiful and that's a quality I admire.

All Things Pretty by Izzy

Izzy blogs on a daily basis and her posts are short, sweet and to the point. She reviews products and talks about makeup, nail polish and jewellery, showing her lovely collections and hauls with plenty of swatches. Currently, Izzy is taking part in the Blogger challenge in which you must post a photograph of a different listed item every day. Day 1 was eyeliner and Izzy has chosen the Urban Decay 24/7 pencil as her favourite.

Truly Madly Beauty by Aysh

Aysh has a major nail polish addiction and she has great NOTD's using creative nail art and fabulous colours. She recently got hold of the new collections from Models Own and has put up her first NOTD using Disco Heaven. Don't forget to check out her cute OOTD's and beautiful makeup looks!

If you don't already follow the blogs which these lovely ladies write - then do it now! Go follow them on Twitter too ;) 

Rhamnousia - @rhamnousia84
Emma - @EmmaDhanak
Lipstick Loves - @Lipstick_407
Izzy - @iz222
Aysh - @Aysh_tmb

Please note: I do not own any of the photographs in this post. They are from the blogs which are mentioned and linked above.

Which blog posts have you been reading recently?

Numera x

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

100 Things - Part 10

So here it is, the very long overdue last installment of 100 Things I Love! After much complaining from a certain someone about my lack of blogging, I am here with the last section from the series.

Ninety One
My engagement ring - <3

Ninety Two
Meeting new people - I've met some really amazing people through blogging especially!

Ninety Three
Movenpick - If you haven't tried Movenpick ice creams and sorbets you are MISSING OUT

Ninety Four
Magazines - for inspiration

Ninety Five
Pretty Lingerie - to make you feel extra special

Ninety Six
Liverpool Football Club - because they are the BEST

Ninety Seven
Motorbikes - I have a love/hate relationship with my other half's bike

Ninety Eight
Weddings - which girl doesn't love a wedding?!

Ninety Nine
Payday - Puts a smile on everyone's face

One Hundred
YOU - My amazing followers and readers!

That's it!!! It's all over! If you missed any of the other posts in this series, just click below:

I hope you've enjoyed these posts and having a little peek in to my life. If you have done the 100 Things I Love tag please comment below with your link, I'd love to see your picks!

Numera x