Sunday, August 23, 2015


Weather permitting.

I’m sorry to be typically British and moan about the weather, but unfortunately, in my opinion, we Britons haven’t had much opportunity to bask in continuous days of sweltering sunshine this year and this has played havoc with my summer wardrobe and my routine annual leg wax treatments, which are both usually dependent on what the meteorologists forecast.

I recently treated myself to this long-sleeved ASOS denim shirt dress, firstly because it’s a timeless, effortless piece which will see me through subsequent summers, and secondly, I felt this particular longer length style would suit days when there was a chill in the air and a bit of stubble on my legs; pairing it with the gladiator sandals reminds me it’s still summer and ensures I’m comfortable all day!
Shirt Dress, Asos              Sandals, Topshop             Bag, Mulberry        Headband, River Island

Later x
Read More
Sunday, August 16, 2015


At One Day Spa

We know that a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity are important components of a healthy lifestyle and optimal wellbeing, but everyday life can just get in the way sometimes which can make it difficult to adopt and maintain healthful habits. The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe and thus we are encouraged to ensure we set aside some ‘me time’ to socialise, relax or exercise. One of the things I like to treat myself to when it’s been a long, stressful and busy month is a spa treatment; sometimes I will recommend the option of a spa treatment to my clients when they have achieved one of their dietary goals, rather than treating themselves to a burger and fries or bottle of wine.

At One DaySpa is a Birmingham-based spa that I like to attend for body massages, facials, waxes and the odd manicure. Beth Davies is the Spa owner and her outlook on health and wellness is similar to mine, and as a fellow health-related business owner in the city with a successful spa bustled with clients, she’s an inspiration to me -  I decided to interview her as part of my Birmingham Wellness Scene series to find out more about establishing the business, her health and wellbeing tips and her view on the growing wellness trend. (NB: it’s a bit of a long one so you may want to pop back to read the rest if you’re interested)


  •     When was At One Day Spa established, and what fuelled your desire to set up a spa business in Birmingham?

I set up At One Day Spa in Great Western Arcade in December 2010.  We were a complete start-up with no existing client base, I was new to Birmingham with very limited beauty industry experience, it snowed like nobody's business throughout December and I was 7 months pregnant!  I'm still not quite sure what fuelled my desire to put myself through that, other than a masochistic desire to punish myself!   

  •      What is your business’ ethos in terms of the services/products you offer?

Initially we took the "spa" approach of relaxation and holistic treatments, but we have gradually refined and adjusted that to meet the needs of our clients.  I don't believe that I (or any of my team) have all the answers and so we try to listen all the time to what our clients want and need and adapt our approach accordingly.  This means that we constantly introduce small changes to allow us to deliver to our clients' expectations.

We primarily serve the needs of the local business community, in particular women working in the corporates in Colmore Business District who want a great professional image but need to fit their beauty routines into their working day. So we have moved away from our original raison d'etre in some ways.  We used to offer Elemis treatments but we have moved to Dermalogica because it serves the needs of our core clients better.  With the help of my Manager, Lynsey, we have upped our game in respect of beauty treatments such as nails, waxing, tanning, etc. We still retain an element of relaxation you'd expect from a Day Spa but I would say we are now much more of a hybrid Beauty Salon/Day Spa.

  •      What types of treatment do you offer? Also, what is your most popular treatment and do you have a personal favourite treatment?

We offer a whole range of treatments from truly holistic therapies such as our Signature Healing Therapy, through to truly beauty treatments such as brow and lash tints.Our most popular treatments are our massages, facials, waxing and manicures.  We have a great team and each of us has our own specialisms which means that we can recommend treatments that personally we may not deliver, but we know that one of the team does brilliantly. My personal favourite treatment to be on the receiving end of, is a good long facial with a scalp and face massage included.  It is absolutely guaranteed to send me to sleep!

  •       When you think of a spa, you often think of an overnight retreat in some rural area, how do you think your ‘day’ spa in the city centre compares?

I think that we fit into a position in between an overnight retreat spa and a high street beauty salon.
To explain, if you go to an overnight retreat spa you get a great quality product, sophisticated surroundings and lots of bells and whistles.  However it's not a convenient location for regular visits, the treatment you get can be hit and miss depending on the therapist you get, you don't develop a relationship with your therapist, it can feel a bit like being on a treadmill, and many people find the environment or approach rather intimidating.

By contrast, when you go to your favourite high street beauty salon round the corner from your house, you may be a great quality treatment because you have built up a relationship with your therapist and she knows what you want.  However, the surroundings may not be so high quality, you won't get the little added-extras, the products may not be great, and whilst the location may be convenient sometimes the opening hours aren't if you commute to work.

We have positioned ourselves to deliver great quality in both products and treatments in beautiful relaxing surroundings.  We add some of the bells and whistles so that you get a more luxurious experience, but you also get "normal" people delivering your treatments so we are not intimidating.  We have a low staff turnover so you can build a relationship with your therapist, and we are conveniently located to fit into your daily schedule - with opening hours to match.

  •        Health is at the top of many peoples’ agenda these days, which is great news; how does At One Day Spa fit into the evolving health and wellness scene, particularly in Birmingham?

We want to help people to tackle health and wellness on a number of different fronts.  From a very practical point of view, for example, we offer sports and deep tissue massage to help alleviate back pain and discomfort arising from too many hours spent at a computer!  We also offer a fabulous range of Dermalogica skincare which is designed to protect skins from the pollution and stresses inherent in our modern environments.  And our holistic therapies help to improve our clients' mental wellbeing.

However we also offer treatments that can help people to feel better about themselves.  Whether we like it or not, our image is a key part of who we are.  I know that I, for example, behave totally differently and feel much more confident meeting others if I'm in a business suit with my nails done, my hair tidy and my make-up in place, than I do if I'm dressed in my spa tunic and slightly bedraggled after a day of massage.  People view me differently too.And so we want to help men and women to achieve that well groomed look that makes a difference particularly in corporate life.
In addition to all that, we also offer a pop-up service so that if you need massage or holistic treatments in work we can do that, and we also carry out health and wellness talks for businesses, on topics such as nutrition and stress management.

  •       You have recently renovated your premises to create an even more beautiful and modern haven for your customers. What initially inspired you to do this and are there any other exciting business plans/projects in the pipeline that we can be privy to?

The inspiration for the project was a combination of practical issues!  We were running out of room, our storeroom and washing machines were at the far end of the Arcade, and we needed to repaint our premises.  At the same time, our lease was up for renewal and the premises next door to us became available when Julian Graves went into liquidation.We had a choice - we either continued as we were which was very much a "make do and mend" approach to our premises, or we really went for it and invested in premises that would see us through for another 10 years (hopefully).  I decided to do the latter.  I'm very pleased that we did it because the premises are much more suited for purpose now and better meet the expectations of our clients.  However, it was a massive investment and that still keeps me up at night!

In terms of future plans, we have a few in the pipeline and you can expect to see some changes to the way we approach things before the end of the year, but I don't want to say too much because we are still very much in the planning stage.

  •      I know you sell beauty products and I’m sure you practise what you preach. Can you briefly describe your health and beauty regime?

I try to eat healthily although living with a 4 year old and a junk-food addict husband makes this quite challenging.  And I try to exercise when I can, but I need to do more of that and lose some of the weight I've gained since I gave birth! I was always useless at beauty regimes but Lynsey has made me realise the error of my ways and educated me properly!  I now use Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse and Essential Cleansing Solution, Daily Microfoliant (which I just love because it makes an instant difference to your skin), Multi-Active Toner and Skin Smoothing Cream.  I've been experimenting with Dermalogica Power Firm and also their PowerBright range since I've seen the difference that has made to some of our clients' skins.  And I use the Skin Hydrating Mask when I need a boost.
From a make-up point of view, mineral make-up has been a complete revelation for me.  I started off using BareMinerals but I've now switched to YoungBlood which we sell in the Spa.  And I can truly say that the coverage is fantastic, and it's the first make-up I've ever used that doesn't give me breakouts.  I absolutely love it!

Everyone assumes that because I own a Spa, I must get loads of facials and massage but really nothing could be further from the truth!

  •  You are a former ironman triathlete, which is amazing. What is your outlook on living healthy and do you have any healthy lifestyle tips you can offer your customers and my blog readers?

Doing Ironman was another example of just being a masochist!  The training was crazy as I was doing 15-20 hour serious training each week alongside a full time job that involved at least 2 hours commuting most days.  It wasn't unusual for me to be up at 5am doing hill repeats in the pouring rain with a headtorch on before heading off to work and fitting in a spin class en-route.  To be honest, Ironman at the "hobby" level I was doing it, was as much about being mentally determined to get round as being physically able to.

I've moved on a bit since then, gone through a divorce, moved half way across the country, changed career, started a business, had a child and I'm about to get married again, so my priorities have changed somewhat! 

However, my healthy lifestyle tips really fit into whatever position you are in:

  1. ·        Do something every day that makes you smile.
  2. ·        At the end of each day, think about 5 things you have achieved that day (even if it was just getting out of bed and into work!).
  3. ·        Challenge yourself - never let life become boring.
  4. ·        Never be afraid to take a risk - think about what's the worst that can happen, and make your decision from there.
  5. ·        Don't stay in a bad place because you're scared to move on. 
  6. ·        Try to eat healthily and if you're in a job where it's difficult to do that, plan ahead.  When I was doing Ironman I was spending half my week living in a hotel and I would take my own mini fridge with me so that I could eat properly!
  7. ·        If you can't work out how to fit some exercise into your life, look at your working day.  Could you park further out and run into work?  Could you get an earlier train and walk the long-way to work?  Could you cycle to the train station?
  8. ·        Don't spend all day sitting at a computer - it's important to take breaks and go for a walk, talk to someone, get a glass of water...or anything really.  Non-stop computer work will mess up your back in the long run!
  9. ·        Don't underestimate the impact of stress.  Be aware of your personal triggers and warning signs, and do stuff that makes you feel better every day.  I love singing along at the top of my voice to the hits of the 80's in my car...where no-one else has to hear my awful voice!
               Thank you Beth

         Disclaimer: I pay for all treatments at this spa and have not been sponsored to write this post or promote any products or services. 
                      Photos courtesy of At One Day Spa

Read More
Sunday, August 09, 2015


Tickles my taste buds

If you’re a fan of dishes that combine sweet and savoury, you may thank me for this simple meal idea. Some of you will know that although I’m a nutritionist and self-proclaimed foodie, I’m not a fan of spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen following recipe instructions to create finicky dishes which require distinctive ingredients and skilful culinary techniques; I want to make/cook something that is as easy as preparing a ready-meal, but that ticks all my nutrition and health-related criteria.

I’d never really entertained the idea of eating figs until recently, mainly because I've never found them in my local supermarket. When I finally managed to get my hands on some at a food market, I had only considered incorporating them into a fruit salad or using them as a topping for my breakfast granola, but then I happened on a recipe where they had been used in a sandwich and decided to make a version to suit my taste using wholemeal pita bread, mature cheddar cheese, spinach, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar - and that’s it!


*Create a salad by tossing together a good handful of spinach (I’d recommend tearing it into smaller pieces), some roughly chopped pieces of cheddar cheese, 2-3 sliced figs, a good glug of olive oil and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar in a bowl -  here, we are combining the heart-healthy fats of the olive oil, fruit and vegetables, a low salt dressing with tangy and sweet properties by using balsamic vinegar, and some protein and calcium in the form of cheese

*Lightly toast the wholemeal pita bread – wholemeal is a good source of wholegrains compared to white pita, and evidence is growing that eating wholegrains regularly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle may help to reduce the risk of many common diseases. Recent UK recommendations have also suggested we need to increase our fibre intake (to 30g/day)

*Toss the fig salad mix on top of the toasted pita and devour with your hands like a pizza (and be prepared to get all that oil and vinegar dripping down your mouth), or eat it with a knife and fork if you’re feeling prim and proper!

Later x
Read More
Sunday, August 02, 2015


Open their newly refurbished doors in Birmingham

Birmingham welcomed the long awaited re-opening of the newly refurbished Harvey Nichols store last Friday, and as much as I’d love this post to be about all the Louboutins, Valentinos and Mulberrys I invested in whilst walking around the sensational store, I’m afraid I can only share what we ate for brunch in their stylish new restaurant whose menu is curated by Michelin-starred chef, Glynn Purnell. Apologies in advance for the quality of the pictures, there was no natural light - perfect for my skin tone when on a date, but not great for blogging - I've not worked out how to operate my camera in ambient settings yet!

I’m always reluctant to opt for scrambled eggs when I’m dining out because I’m quite fussy about how they are cooked, but without sounding like a blogger who was sponsored to write this post (I’m not!), I can honestly say they were among the best scrambled eggs (apart from mine) I have tasted: hot, flavoursome, not too runny, not too firm and served with rashers of bacon, a pancake and some warm sourdough bread which made my taste buds dance about; this specific combination of foods was not on the menu, instead I cherry picked my individual favourites from the other menu options (a waiter’s worst nightmare, right? Well mine was very accommodating.). My friend chose the oeuf cocotte with oxsprings ham and Manchego cheese which I had not heard of before and, admittedly, it seemed a little too adventurous for my taste, but she assures me it was delicious!

Later x
Read More
Sunday, July 26, 2015


Spring temperatures.

August is just a week away and at this time of year I expected to be showing off my, what have been described as, ‘Michelle Obama arms’ every day – those press ups make all the difference gals - instead, there’s a subtle chill in the air that warrants a summer jacket to take the edge off those occasional goose pimples. I don’t think we are ever going to get consistent days of hot summer sunshine in the UK so an investment in a lightweight jacket as a summer wardrobe staple is always sensible. Looking in my wardrobe I realised I only had a 6 year old blue denim jacket, a long black funeral-resembling duster coat and dark coloured work-style blazers, all weather-appropriate for this time of year but…..…… was time for a summer coat upgrade; I needed something transitional, something light, in weight and colour, and something that ticked my functional style check-list – hello pink duster coat!

A cheeky weekend Brunch - What I wore:
Duster Coat, Marks& Spencer          Wedges/sandals, Jones               Bag/clutch,  Aspinal of London

Later x
Read More
Sunday, July 19, 2015


An interview with Nichola Whitehead

The lovely Nichola Whitehead is the editor behind the highly successful and award-winning food and health blog, Nic’s Nutrition. Nichola’s no-nonsense nutritious recipes and healthy lifestyle tips have amassed her thousands of followers, and unlike many other bloggers she interacts with her large audience in an attempt to help and motivate them to practise healthful behaviours – Nichola even features her reader’s ‘Nic’s Nutrition’ recipe creations on her blog.

Having followed Nichola for some time on Twitter, we eventually met briefly at a nutrition conference in London where she shared her love of disseminating evidence-based nutrition messages via her blog and social media platforms. I’m always inspired by credible health bloggers and therefore wanted to find out more about Nic; I decided to interview her as part of my Diet & Style Profile series.

How can people network with you?  Blog:
                                                             Twitter: @nicsnutrition
                                                             Facebook: Nics Nutrition
                                                             Instagram: Nics Nutrition
                                                             YouTube: Nics Nutrition 
Age or age category: 29

Where do you call home? Leeds, UK

What is your Occupation? Registered Dietitian

What are your hobbies/interests? Healthy food, holidays and being with friends & family - and I’m also in the middle of renovating a house which is taking up a considerable amount of my time (making my house a home is a new hobby for me!)

Favourite quote? It’s not about diets, it’s about a way of life.

Guilty Pleasure? Britney Spears!


What inspired you to write a food/health blog, and what do you think fuelled your success? Having read health and beauty blogs for years I wanted to ‘give something back’ and I was also tired of reading extreme/unhealthy nutrition advice online (written by unqualified people!) and wanted to help people with honest advice - there’s no fad diets on my blog! I think my blog’s success has been down to social media and word of mouth - creating good content that people want to read and share!

What is a typical day’s diet for you? I’ll start my day with either a protein smoothie (frozen banana, milk, whey protein and spinach - you can’t taste the spinach!!) or porridge made with milk and topped with banana, berries and cinnamon and then I’ll have fruit/nuts/naked bars as a snack and then I’ll have a salad with crackers at lunch and something like sweet potato with salmon and roasted vegetables on an evening. I like to snack on peanut butter and dark chocolate after work and on an evening as well as berries with yoghurt, honey & cacao nibs!

What is/are your healthy food staple/s? I couldn’t live without oats, frozen berries, bananas & chicken (not eaten altogether!!)

What is your food vice? Peanut butter.. by the spoon!

Can you describe your physical activity regime? I work out Monday to Friday for between 15 and 30 minutes (depending on how long I snooze for!!) and follow videos from the TIU girls and girl from Fitness Blender! I also try to walk 10,000 steps a day and track them using my Misfit.

What is your favourite recipe? I love making baked sweet potato with oven baked chicken marinated in yoghurt & herbs served with a salad drizzled with oil, lemon juice, salt & black pepper! For dessert nothing beats my protein fudge!!

My version of Nic's Nutrition Protein Fudge
Where is your favourite place to eat and why? I love Nourish (in Sheffield and now Leeds) because EVERYTHING on the menu is ‘good for you’!! I also like Pret a Manger because of the salad options.

Can you offer any healthy lifestyle advice/tips in a nutshell? Don’t deny yourself anything - I live by the 80/20 rule where nothing is banned - if you eat healthily 80% of the time then you can eat whatever you want for the other 20%!

Is there anyone you follow for health inspiration? I love Helen West (dietitian), Zanna Van Dijk and Simon from The Diet Kitchen!


How would you describe your personal style? My style is ‘comfy’ but ‘put together’ - I love jersey body con dresses as well as the Topshop Joni jeans - they are easy to wear but look good!

Do you have a wardrobe staple? Black leggings because they require no ironing and are comfy!

Where do you like to shop? I love ASOS and also my friend Em’s shop!

What has been one of your biggest fashion splurges? Probably my Raybans!

What piece of clothing or accessory are you saving up for? In all honesty, nothing at the moment!! I’m focussing on pieces for the house!!

Can you offer any fashion or style tips? Follow bloggers I have bought so many pieces of clothing after seeing bloggers wearing them - it’s great. Hassle free shopping!

Who or what inspires you in terms of fashion and style? I love Em Sheldon on Instagram!

Thank you Nichola x
Read More
Sunday, July 12, 2015


Sparkling water on tap, thanks to the Sodastream

I’m sure my parents won’t mind me telling you this, but when I was younger, during my teens, dinner was typically served with a glass of fizzy soda such as Ginger Beer, Coke or Sprite. A lot has changed in that household since I went to university to study nutrition; the family made a pact to cut down on sugary sweetened beverages (SSBs). Fast forward a decade and the plight to reduce SSBs has gone global. Public policy initiatives to reduce sugar consumption are the subject of current national and international debate and a variety of reports have made a consistent and compelling case for a reduction in the nation’s/world’s sugar intake. According to research published in the journal Circulation, consumption of sugary drinks may lead to an estimated 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide.

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are defined as sugar-sweetened fizzy soft drinks (not ‘diet’ sodas), fruit drinks/cordial, sports/energy drinks and sweetened iced/fruit teas. 100% pure fruit juices contain natural sugars, rather than added sugar, but it’s a sugar with calories nonetheless (juices are also acidic which may harm the teeth); juices do, however, contain some vitamins and minerals and therefore offer some nutritional value compared to sugar-sweetened sodas such as coke. It’s recommended that consumption of fruit juice is limited to one small 150ml glass daily at mealtimes. So what does this leave us with to drink regularly throughout the day, which won’t affect our waistline or our teeth? Well, still water, sparkling water, fruit/tea infused water, and did I say water?

I've never really lost my liking for carbonated drinks from my childhood days, and while I’ll very occasionally have a glass of coke or lemonade, I tend to satisfy my taste for fizz with sparkling water (okay okay and a drop of Prosecco), and the rest of the time I tend to drink still water. Up until this weekend I would buy bottles of sparkling water, but I decided to invest in a Sodastream so that I have sparking water on tap - another gadget to take up space in the kitchen! I love it; it's quick and easy to use, however, there are two things to be mindful of if and when you buy it: 1) the home carbonator comes with bottles of flavoured juices which contain sugar; 2) I didn't realise this but once you use up the gas which is included with your purchase, you have to buy another gas cylinder each time the gas runs out, which costs £9 and reportedly lasts approximately one month, depending on how often you use it of course! 

I flavoured my sparkling water with cucumber, lime and mint.                

Later x
Read More