Prairie Bliss Botanicals Caffeine Fix Eye Serum Review

The skin around the eye is thin and the first place to show signs of aging. After finishing YBF Skincare’s Correct Eye Cream, I was looking for an eye treatment that wasn’t such a heavy hitter, as my eyes are pretty good – a few fine lines and can look tired in the mornings with a bit of discoloration and a bit of puffiness especially after too little sleep.

Prairie Bliss Botanicals is a small Canadian spa company based in Saskatoon, SK that makes a number of all natural and organic skin care products. After reading the description of the Caffeine Fix Eye Serum, I wasn’t sure what the texture was going to be like. It’s called an eye serum, but the description says it is a “rich eye cream.” When I bought this serum, there was no ingredient list on the website or on the bottle I received, so I emailed the company asking for the ingredients. They responded to my email within the hour saying they couldn’t provide me with ingredients as it was propriety information. I see that the website now lists the ingredients; however, it is a hover list and has a copyright label, so I’m not sure I’d be allowed to list it fully here. Please see their website for a full list of ingredients. I’ll go through the primary ingredients though.

bliss caffeine fix

Primary ingredients: Organic coffee, vitamin E, grape seed oil

I’m not sure if the company uses coffee, coffee bean oil, coffee extract and/or caffeine. Depending on what is used, there are lesser or greater amounts of caffeine and fatty acids. For example, coffee bean oil has a small amount of caffeine, but is rich in fatty acids, and smells like coffee. Caffeine on its own has no smell. Caffeine can help reduce eye puffiness as it enhances circulation. Caffeine is an antioxidant and helps protect the skin against UV radiation.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, fighting free radicals and helping prevent wrinkles. It is a good moisturizer for the skin.

Grape seed oil is an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It has fatty acids, helping improve wrinkles and may improve scars and marks. It contains vitamins C, D and E.

Directions say to apply a small amount after moisturizing – after moisturizing the eye or face I’m not sure. It seems a bit redundant to use two eye products as the Caffeine Fix is plenty moisturizing.

The serum is packaged in a dark blue bottle, protecting it from light. It uses a pump which could have been better. I found that the pump was not very easy to push down smoothly, and way too much product would very suddenly come out as the pump eventually was able to be pushed down. It is very light yellow in color and is an oil serum, not a rich cream. It smells amazing; just like a cup of freshly roasted coffee. I didn’t really like to use it in the morning as it took a few minutes to absorb fully and if I got too much (which was easy to do with the pump) I found it could be a bit irritating if it got too close to my eye and just looked too oily, so I ended up just using it at night. I’ve used it so far for about 3 months. In the morning my eyes look less tired, less puffy and feel so moisturized, soft and smooth to the touch. I didn’t find too much difference in fine lines or under-eye darkness (may need to use it longer to see these results).

I don’t think I’d buy this again, as I much prefer an eye cream to an oil serum, but Caffeine Fix is very moisturizing and helps the eyes look more awake. This will last a long time as such a small amount is needed and it is very fluid (however the pump is not as smooth as it should be which leads to wasted product).

Akita Face Wash Review

Akita is a skincare company founded in Turkey specializing in rose water and rose oil skincare. They have four different product lines; rose, lavender, cacao and unscented and use natural plant-based ingredients. I bought a number of Akita’s rosewater products, and the 100% natural face wash with rose water was the first one I tried.

rose cleanser1

Ingredients: Aqua, potassium oleate, glycerine, rosa damascena flower water, potassium salt of coconut fatty acid, olive oil, potassium citrate, rosa damascena flower oil, panax ginseng, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, green tea extract, potassium sorbate

A bit more detail on some of the ingredients – Potassium oleate is a salt and a fatty acid that prevents ingredients from separating. The rosa damascena flower water is rose water made from distilling the petals. Rose water is apparently anti-aging and moisturizing, smooths fine lines is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Potassium citrate is the salt form of citric acid used to naturally preserve products and adjust acidity. Panax ginseng can help tone and brighten skin. There is salicylic acid and glycolic acid, BHA and AHA respectively. Salicylic acid helps breakouts, blackheads and skin texture as it can clean deeper inside the pore and glycolic acid can be effective in treating fine lines and uneven skin texture and tone.

I like the ingredient list and was hopeful this would become my go-to cleanser. This product claims to clean dirt and oil from deep within pores while not over-drying skin. The website says this cleanser is oil-free, but it does contain olive oil and rose oil.

This cleanser is a very pale yellowish color and smells like those small bottles of body wash one would find in an economy hotel (not the best smell). It doesn’t suds up too much. As a cleanser, it does its job well.  On the first use as I was rinsing I was struck by how much friction there was between by fingers and my face. It was actually difficult to trace a smooth line across my cheek with my finger without the pause of the friction; there was definitely a very squeaky clean feeling (not in a good way). The cleanser seemed to rinse well, so I was unsure if this friction was due to leftover residue or if the cleanser stripped my skin that much. Once my skin was dry there was still the squeaky feeling, which mostly went away after spraying my face with a toner. I used this in the morning and evening and by about the fifth day my skin felt very dry and by the seventh day the skin on my nose started flaking. I used it for three more days and then had to give up using it as a face wash. I tried using as a body wash, but this also made my skin feel dry and overly squeaky on rinsing. So unfortunately, this rose water cleanser did not work for me. I have since used Akita’s hand cream, roll-on deodorant and 100% pure rose water which I quite liked (the hand cream is a new favorite).


1-2-3 Grow!! Review

Before we get into the program review, a bit about my fitness and nutrition – As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained weight and can’t seem to lose it very easily just by decreasing calories. Over the years I had done low calorie, low carb, binge eating, didn’t exercise, felt tired and got low blood sugar regularly. My nutrition was lacking; I ate healthy balanced meals at supper as I cook for my family, but throughout the day I’d eat junk food, high fat and high carb foods or not eat much at all. I weighed myself for the first time in a long time and was shocked to realize that I had become 192 lbs (at 5 feet 9 inches), the most I’ve ever weighed.

Over the years I have bought many home workout DVDs, tried them for a couple weeks, then quit. I hate cardio; it’s boring. But I’d get really motivated, in my head at least, and tell myself I’d finish a program, I’d lose weight – all to give up after a couple weeks. It’s pretty emotionally exhausting to go back and forth like that and it takes a toll on self confidence. I was feeling like I was failing, but hadn’t really done anything yet. As I was browsing online for yet another home workout program to try, I came across the programs developed by James Wilson (certified personal trainer) at Aesthetic Training Solutions. I purchased the home-based weight loss program, Body Earned, and tried it for a couple weeks, then after discussing my goals (hopefully eventually taking part in a figure competition; body type and mental strength allowing) with James, bought the muscle building gym-based program 1-2-3 Grow. This is a program for males and females at any stage of fitness. The first 3 weeks are full body circuit style workouts to get the body used to working out and lifting. The next 9 weeks are body part specific, still in the circuit style. With this program, you want to set the resistance (weight you are lifting) so that by the last rep, it should be impossible to do another. For the cost of the program, you get the workout, invitation to a private Facebook group, files on macro and calorie calculations and recommended food lists and personalized nutrition help provided by James for as long as is needed. You can do many rounds of this program, and people have done 5 or 6 rounds while getting personalized macros every week for the one-time cost of the program.

While there are recommended foods, the program uses an 80/20 approach where 80% of the food will be from wholesome and nutritious sources and 20% from more refined sources. This way we don’t feel limited, and with the high amount of carbs needed to build muscle, more refined carbs are needed, otherwise the body can get too much fiber, leading to digestive and absorption issues.

I joined the private Facebook group for the Grow program. This group is where you can post successes, weaknesses, strengths, goals, questions and anything fitness, nutrition and/or program-related. Members offer encouragement and there’s such a sense of community and support from the 1000s of members, a feature that might be lacking in other programs. James and his wife do the workouts, answer questions and post comments as well. The program is emailed to you and all exercises are linked to a YouTube video so you know how to perform each exercise, and I took advantage of the personalized nutrition help (as I was reverse dieting) for the one-time cost of the program.

Having not been in a gym since essentially since my early 20s and never having lifted any substantial weight, I went to the gym with a lot of trepidation to do my first few Grow workouts. The YouTube videos were very helpful and I had to check how to perform the exercises for almost every one for a few weeks. It took me until about week 5 or 6 to know the names of the exercises and remember how to do them, therefore cutting down on my time in the gym. It was taking me about 90 minutes to complete the warm-up, workout and cool-down. Midway through the program it was taking me 45 to 60 minutes. Around week 8 I was surprised to notice that I was looking forward to going to the gym to lift especially after a stressful day. I have never looked forward to exercising and previous to the gym I would eat junk when I was stressed. Grow is the first program I have ever completed. It took me about 14 weeks to complete the 12 weeks of the program and 16 weeks to be fully reversed, which is getting to my maximum amount of carbs reverse dieting (slowly increasing carbs week after week). 

Nutrition/Reverse Dieting: Briefly, reverse dieting is for those people who have been eating too little calories/carbohydrates over a longer period of time or those who have stopped seeing results with decreased calories and/or increased cardiovascular exercise. Reverse dieting (used in conjunction with muscle building) is a weekly increase in the number of carbohydrates eaten getting to your maximum carbohydrate grams, then holding at the maximum for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks. During these weekly increases, there should be no weight gain above about 2 pounds (allowing for normal fluctuations). If there is weight gain above this, there is no increase in carbs for that week. After holding at the maximum carbs for 6 to 8 weeks, a decrease in carbohydrates and/or increase in cardio is made, thus resulting in weight loss. James has a good in-depth video on YouTube explaining reverse dieting and the body’s adaptability. 

With my before weight, average carbohydrates and calories, my starting reverse macros were calculated at 170 g carbohydrates, 125 g protein and 57 g fat (about 1600 calories). I divided this into three meals and two snacks a day, meal prepping weekly using MyFitnessPal. At the start, for a few weeks, I was so hungry especially on leg day. 

reverse dieting

My macros at the end of the reverse (which took me about 16 weeks; I had to hold my carbs a couple weeks for weight gain) were calculated at 400 g carbs, 135 g protein and 80 g fat (about 2700 calories). Towards the end if I missed a meal or woke up late, still having to fit my macros in, I was so full and some days ended up eating cake just to get those carbs and fats in for the day.

I went from 1600 calories to 2700 calories in 16 weeks and lost 16-1/2 pounds. Weight loss is not typical while reverse dieting, but weight should at least stay the same throughout the process. Having never heard of reverse dieting before this program, I was amazed the body is able to adapt like that. 

Onto the results:

Week 1                                                              Week 12

Weight 192 lbs                                                 175.5 lbs

Chest (bra line) 38.5 inches                          34.5 inches

Waist (1 inch above belly button) 39 inches   36.5 inches

Across belly button 44 inches                     39.5 inches

Hips 45 inches                                                42.5 inches

Thighs 26 inches                                            25 inches

Some of the gains I’ve made in my strength:

Week 1                                                          Week 12

Leg press 50 lbs                                           150 lbs

Dead lift 50 lbs                                            120 lbs

Barbell bench press 30 lbs                       65 lbs

Pullups  assist of 150 lbs                          assist of 110 lbs

Plank 20 seconds                                      2 minutes

Tricep extension 17.5                              32.5 lbs

When I was finished the program and reflecting on how I felt and looked, I was happy to say that I actually completed a workout program. I enjoyed lifting and felt stronger. I got less out of breath when going up stairs. I’m very happy with the before and after photos. I think without taking photos it’s hard to tell the difference made by all the hard work put in and looking in the mirror I didn’t think my body had changed much. My body measurements and strength gains are great for the 14 weeks or so that I worked out for. Unfortunately, I still look about 5 months pregnant. That’ll eventually disappear as I continue to work out. I can’t see any visible muscle as I still have fat, but I can feel good size quads and triceps. I found that I pushed myself harder on my upper body days than on leg day. I didn’t make much gain in my squat strength; these are probably my worst exercise. I was halfway through the program when I realized my form was incorrect and had to take a few weeks to learn the proper form and get my strength back up. I got a lot of anxiety when it comes time for leg day. Leg day is very difficult and takes a lot of mental strength as well to push through the workout. Weightlifting really is a mental game, as your brain is going to tell your body to stop before you actually physically need to. I found I had to encourage myself in my head to keep going especially on squats and walking lunges. As with any exercise regimen, you get out of it what you put in.

Update: I completed this program about a year ago, and did parts of my second round here and there. The longer I was away from the gym, the easier it became to just not go. So, I’ve gained my weight back and will need to start at the beginning unfortunately.

If you’re looking for a new fitness program, I’d recommend looking at James’ Facebook page at James Wilson- Faith, Family and Fitness and reading through his posts and the comments to get a sense of his fitness philosophy and ask any questions you may have.

Thanks for reading.