Friday, 27 February 2015

Fitbit Surge - Heart Rate Monitor Meets Smartwatch

I am pretty blasé about most of the techie gadgets that come out. I’m not someone who has a heart attack every time Apple release a new phone or gadget. Google glasses and Bluetooth dishwashers and all that stuff just totally floats past me.

I saw a review a couple of weeks ago in a Melbourne newspaper of the Fitbit Surge and my heart rate picked up. I couldn’t believe it. Excited about a fitness gadget! I haven’t owned anything more fitness-gadget than an ipod previously so this is my first real fitness technology investment.

What it does is JUST as important as what it doesn’t do. I didn’t want something that would do a million things, with a million buttons and applications and features. I believe in keeping it simple and doing the basic things really well – much like a good workout routine.

The watch face allows you to set different workouts, and if you sync it with your phone, you get SMS notifications and can see who is calling you – before ignoring them, naturally. It also allows you to track your sleep (or lack of it!). Essentially for the outdoor trekker, biker, runner, it has a GPS navigation that can tell you how far you’ve walked and what your route looks like.
MOST importantly, it has a heart rate monitor. Now, I’ve long wanted a heart rate monitor but previous models I’ve looked at have involved gadgetry that needs to be wrapped around your chest and all sorts of exhaustive apps to measure what seems like a pretty simple factor. The fact that the Fitbit Surge does this SIMPLY along with all the appealing elements of a smartwatch? It’s a no-brainer. This is definitely going to appeal to non-techie fitness fans.

I intend on using it to measure my heart rate during cardio and strength workouts, my Ballet Sculpt classes, and to track how active I am from day to day. If you have a specific goal about time spent walking, floors climbed, a heart rate zone you want to stay within during interval training...this is the gadget for you.

Sure, I might not get a whole lot of use out of the GPS tracker since most of my activity is done indoors, but I like knowing it’s an option and I will definitely make use of it overseas in May. I probably won’t answer the phone when you call, but rest assured I’ll see that you’re trying.

Stay tuned. I’ll be posting again soon on heart rate training. 

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Paleo Basics: interview with Scott Gooding

I do not advocate fad diets. I'm not vegan or gluten/dairy intolerant. BUT I know that many people have sensititivies, allergies and reactions to particular foods and that is where the appeal of the paleo diet lies. I've just got my hands on Clean Living Paleo Basics by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding, published by Hachette Australia ($17.99).

There is a growing and valuable recognition that whole foods (unprocessed, as close to natural state as possible) are the best choice for optimum energy and health. For example, eating an organic apple from your local market beats an apple & nut muffin from the supermarket.

I love Luke and Scott's recipes - including smoothies, snacks, salads, dinners and sweet treats. It's a great reference for healthy, basic meals that are great for one or for the whole family. Luke and Scott are both qualified personal trainers in the fitness business too so they know food has to fuel an active, fit lifestyle.

I was really lucky to have Scott and Luke talk to me about their book and their paleo lifestyle. If you loved them on My Kitchen Rules, or even if you didn't catch it (like me!), here they are. Please note, these are OPINIONS on diet and health, not facts. What works for your body is different to your neighbour and your friend. 

I love Luke Hines' approach to lifestyle. "My mantra that I live by is Train Smart, Eat Clean and Feel Good. We must have synergy between how we move our body, what we consume and the way we think about life. It is about achieving balance, through mindfulness," he says.

While Luke gave me some fabulous information and opinion, it was Scott Gooding's responses on food, healthy mindset and wellbeing that really appealed to me. As a trainer, a chef, an author and a businessman, he's truly an inspiration.

Has your diet always been health-based or was there an event or issue that lead you to this focus?
I have always tried to eat healthy to the best of my knowledge at the time, looking back I can now see flaws from a health perspective in many foods I used to eat but I guess that is all part of the journey.  There have been a few events that have shaped what types of food I consume, one is particular was an injury I sustained in my back - my focus then became sourcing a diet that wasn't pro-inflammatory - hence the Paleo diet.

Dairy is a great source of calcium. How do you ensure adequate calcium in the Paleo diet?
Dairy may have calcium but it also contains many proteins and hormones which are designed for a growing calf, these compounds cause gut irritation and inflammation.  Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli provide an abundant source of calcium as does fish, shellfish, offal and meat.

A highly active and fit body usually requires adequate carbohydrate. Does it take time for the body to adjust to new sources of energy? What are the side effects?
If you are training at high intensity I believe you should be consuming some extra carbs, but generally minimal carbs is the way forward.  There is a transition between fuels sources which can leave you feeling unable to perform maximally and can leave you feeling fatigued but the body is quick to adapt.  Push through the transition period and then the body will acclimatise.

Beyond diet, what other approaches to exercise lifestyle and wellbeing do you recommend and live by?
I believe we should move our body everyday, whether its a gym session, walk, salsa, pilates or swim.  The session should be hard enough to work up a sweat and evoke a feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment on completion.  I think its paramount that we "switch off" from the modern world of social media, email and texts - this is vital for positive (real) communication.  Its certainly an area that I personally need to work on but I'm making in-roads

I have survived a deadly eating disorder and I am concerned by restrictive or extreme approaches to diet as I feel vulnerable people can vastly restrict their food intake under the guise of a healthy regime. Do you accept that there is a need to educate on paleo but not to demonise whole food groups?
Absolutely, knowledge is power ...and once you have knowledge you'll have the power to make informed choices around your health and lifestyle.  Its important to not demonize certain food groups but knowing why we eat some and not others is the key.

What's a great paleo lunch for someone without A lot of time to prepare but wants energy throughout the afternoon and before a 5.30pm workout?
Healthy food or paleo food often gets branded with the notion it takes time to prepare but it can be as simple as a fritatta, poached eggs with sweet potato fritter, lamb chops with broccolini, leftovers from the night before.

Here's a recipe from the book - Zucchini Linguine with Poached Rainbow Trout - fabulous choice for lunch or dinner!

Follow Scott and Luke on Facebook, Twitter and their website

Clean Living Paleo Basics by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding, published by Hachette Australia ($17.99)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Rainbow Warrior

Aloha! I wore all black in class last week, breaking my own "No All Black Outfits" rule. It did NOT go unnoticed. So, in the spirit of not being boring, and in fact, being inspired by exotic island life, here's my latest colourific haul.

L'Oreal Miss Manga mascara: You've seen manga cartoons - those girls are tiny, heart shaped faces and huge eyes. This mascara promises length, density but most importantly, comes in Turquoise and Purple. Can't decide which one? Wear both shades!

Orly Sugar High Nail Collection colours in Cake Pop and Key Lime Twist. Neon lime nails are going to give your downward dog an extra oomph. Try it!

L'Oreal Mythic Oil Seve Protectice - sure it's not strictly colourful, but it is exotic and it protects my poor, unruly waves and curls from the dreaded straightener - which is lime green, of course.

OPI Hawaii Nail Collection colours in
Is Mai Tai Crooked? Aloha From OPI and This Colour's Making Waves (hot orange and dark teal)

Caribbean Wild Flowers (Crabtree & Evelyn) smells exactly like an explosion of exotic island blooms and if you can't go lie on a beach in Waikiki, this will have to suffice!

Onzie Yoga crop top. My yoga outfits of choice are made BY yoga loving yogis. Love this brand. Love the colours, the cut, the fact it makes activewear joyful - which it should be! Yoga shouldn't be a grim-faced chore.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

All Natural, Super Fresh Skincare

Following the recent nasty scare with frozen berries in Australia being discovered to contain bacteria causing Hepatitis A, with sickeningly unhygienic practices in the Chinese factories they are packaged in - it has been so much more important to ask HOW our products are made and WHAT is in them.

Just as we are sensitive and vulnerable to the ingredients in the food we eat (and anything else in or on it!), our skincare is also a major factor in the functioning and health of our body.

Skin is the largest organ of te body and up to 70% of what is lathered on it gets absorbed. Many skincare chemicals can effect the endocrine system, disrupting the optimal balance of hormones. A study in 2009 found that woman used over 500 chemicals a day on her skin - forget detoxing from wine, your liver is working overtime to detox your bathroom cabinet!

The answer is to use skincare that is as organic and natural as possible while still being really effective. Various ancient cultures have relied on the science of natural ingredients to cleanse, moisturise, heal, protect and colour their faces and bodies. Many cultures still do share their philosophy and knowledge of natural skincare. It is key in naturopathic and ayurvedic beauty practices.

Tristan Fahey founded the incredible Rubifresh skincare as an "all natural, high performance" range for Australian women. Our skin is regularly exposed to hot, dry sun but also the environmentally toxic office life of computer screens, harsh lighting, airconditioning at all hours and polluted city travel.

I have been using the:

Weekly Face Mask. Combined with water, this powder turns into a delicious-looking oatmeal paste with almonds, goat's milk, chia seeds, french clay and lavender. I leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash. My skin feels all smooth and soft for hours AND the couple of spots I had have shrunk in only two uses. Magic!

Body Scrub. Time to take off the remains of my fake tan requires heavy
duty scrubbing so I feel much better knowing the job is done with green clay, juniper, organic camellia seed oil and avocado oil. Raw sugar and fresh chia seeds combine with lime and spearmint to provide natural exfoliating action - happy body, happy environment.

Daily Face Scrub. I love, love, love this. Bright crimson with cranberry and mint, it takes off makeup in the evening or wakes up my skin in the morning. Be careful to wash the last traces of cranberry paste off if you don't want to look like you've been at a zombie party.

Cleansing Gel. Gentle but totally refreshing. Great for sensitive skin and for those days when scrubbing is not a great option. Highly recommended for skin both young through to older, less robust skin. Pump action bottle is great for travel!

Follow Rubifresh on Facebook and Instagram

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Bulletproof Coffee and Fat

Fitness fanatics come up with some extreme concoctions to fuel their performance. Remember Sylvester Stallone in Rocky gulping down raw egg whites?

I genuinely believe in coffee as a performance enhancer. Not only does it boost energy and adrenalin if taken at least 30 minutes before activity, but it also acts as a pain buffer if consumed afterwards. It can alleviate some of the muscle pain you experience without impeding recovery or results.

I also know, and there is ample evidence to prove, that omega 3 fatty acids are essential to a healthy, nourished brain, lubricated and strong joints and vein/artery and heart health.
They are also vital to optimal hormone function and it is important to note that the body does not produce omega 3 fatty acids so your diet is the only source of this essential element.

My preference is to drink black coffee - on ice, in this weather - and to eat plenty of omega 3 rich foods, with an additional supplement.

In the morning, I grind up strong Code Black Coffee beans - now, I SHOULD use a proper grinder but I use my blender and leave it going for long enough to make sure the grind is fine - and make plunger coffee.
No sugar.
I drink 2, perhaps 3, half an hour to an hour before I leave for the gym.

I eat salmon, avocado and plenty of dark green veg at both lunch and dinner, all of these rich in omega 3 fatty acids. With my meal, I take Nature's Way Fish Oil, Krill Oil or Calamari Oil. These are all omega 3 fatty acid supplements.

In this serious heat Melbourne is getting at the moment, I take my black coffee on ice. You can make it at home or do it yourself in a cafe (my preference!)
Simply order black coffee with a big glass of ice on the side.
Pour the coffee over the ice.
Throw in a straw.
Voila! Coffee El Eskimo.

However, if you are all for the extreme and ironmen, triathletes and serious crossfitters are your gurus, you might want to try bulletproof coffee. I don't drink it and I don't actually like the idea, BUT I know there are some serious athletes who are all for it and I respect them so if you are an endurance athlete who doesn't get enough fat in your everyday diet, this is for you.

Blend your coffee with:
a tablespoon of skinny coconut oil and
a teaspoon of grassfed, organic, unsalted butter.
For taste, add a dash of vanilla and stevia for sweetness.

What's the goal? To take the stimulating effect of caffeine with the slow-digesting, rich in fat for extended energy without the jittery effect that caffeine can have on some.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gym Germ Free!

Yes, this is a post about doing your gym time without germs.

I'm not talking about the big ape who thunks into you on his way past - ugh. That sort of germ can't be fixed with mere hand sanitiser, but let us start with the icky things we CAN avoid! From the mats that hundreds of sweaty backs and thighs have laid on before you, to the weights that hundreds of sweaty, snotty, greasy hands have gripped and bars, kettlebells, handles, magazines, cables and ropes that are layered with other peoples' bodily fluids...well, if you're into your hygiene, you'll want to arm yourself. This is a battlefield.
I know the gym is not for everyone but even in your fancy yoga, barre, pilates studio, you're still sharing equipment and door handles with your fellow sweaty yoginis. I'm not saying you need to wear white gloves and a face mask, but there is a very simple way to keep it clean to avoid sharing too many germs with your fellow exercisers!
If gyms and studios are alien to you, you'll still want these germ-blasters in the office, creche, kitchen or car.
Many sanitising lotions, gels and sprays are loaded with nasty skin-drying chemicals that break your nails and leave your fingers looking red raw and sensitised. Don't do it! There are fab natural-ingredient rich products that will blast germs and bacteria while smelling lovely and nurturing your skin. Here's your guide.

Good Things Total Wipe Out Raspberry & Cranberry cleansing wipes are free from parabens, sodium laureth sulphane, mineral oils and no animal testing. They are also biodegradable. Tick, tick and tick! Available at Target.

Natralus Instant Surface Sanitiser and Instant Hand Sanitiser are both mini spray bottles that tuck into your pocket or sit in your car  glovebox ready for action. They are skin friendly and no nasties! They kill odours AND 99.99% of germs in 10 seconds. Get it here!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Chakras: could you tune in to 100% better performance?

Don't roll your eyes! I know you are! I am going to try to convince you that you can think about chakras without coming across as an incense-scented, tie-dye wearing new ager.
In fact, considering your chakras might even get you tighter abs, faster running times and a more peaceful sleep. Here's how.

Ascribing a colour to specific areas of your body means you need to actually identify that part of your body and focus on it. Eastern medicine and philosophy has long held that different areas of the body hold a relationship with particular feelings and energy.

The "Brow Chakra" located at the top of your head, for example, is associated with your sinuses and also your ability to be creative and intuitive.

Could your chakras make you a better athlete? A better yogi? I believe it might and isn't that worth trying?

I'm not going to ask you to imagine shining coloured lights emanating from your insides...but I do want you to try something.

Pick one of the "Chakras" from the image here and note the colour and where it is located. 

Close your eyes and try to focus on that area - whether it's your heart, your brow or your tummy.

Think about the colour that is associated with that area and just sit and focus on it for 2 minutes. 

This is an exercise in mindfulness meditation. All you need to do is hone in on an area with the sole target of thinking about the colour and how specific areas of your body feel and act.

By noticing whether you're really uncomfortable or tense, or really restless when you focus on one area in relation to another, you can tune in to whether you're unwell, injured, stressed or even peaceful, calm and happy!

Being able to sit in quiet and actually "tune in" to your body allows you to understand it better, to love it more, and to appreciate how incredible it is in keeping your heart beating, your brain functioning and your muscles moving.

Even if you're doing the colour visualisation on the tram, walking the dog or during an ad break - don't underestimate how much mindfulness can enhance your sense of peace, calm and control of your environment and your body. Try it when you're running - maybe associating different colours with areas of your body that are under pressure like your lower legs, your back or your neck allow you better control over how you're moving, holding your posture, directing the strike of your foot...

Monday, 16 February 2015

Flying High & Taking Off

This last couple of weeks I've been seriously thinking about the option of teaching and training for a living overseas. I've always been excited by the idea of living and working in a foreign country. When I stayed in Ubud a few years' ago, I met many Americans, Australians and Brits teaching yoga and pilates in Bali. It isn't necessarily a lucrative lifestyle for many, but living in a beautiful location where food, leisure and accommodation are cheap and exotic? The lure is strong.

I have no experience with moving my life to another country so I'm currently reading Sell Up, Pack Up and Take Off (Allen & Unwin) for all the nitty-gritty details of how to navigate starting a new life in Bali, Thailand and Spain. I don't expect to be leaving for any longer than a year when it finally happens, but I do want to spend an extended period overseas during my 30s - writing, teaching and sucking up the culture and atmosphere!

While I'm here, just dreaming of exotic and distant lands, I will be "flying high" and treating myself as IF I'm living in a resort. Here's how:

Dressing for yoga classes in tropical, lush, outdoor studios! You know I'm obsessed with Onzie. Their new range is "Flying High" and it is my favourite so far. Beautiful tie-dye prints in saturated shades and the fit is 100% flattering. The best part is every piece is designed BY yogis for people who DO yoga. You can bend and flex into any position and you will be fully supported by your outfit. I've got the kickass leggings pictured above and they fit like a glove. Want to know what really makes my day? I have found a matching nail polish shade! OPI Cement The Deal is from the 50 Shades of Grey Collection.
Onzie on Instagram

Use gorgeous, divinely scented spa products - turn your bathroom into an international resort and retreat there post-work for a pick-me-up. No queuing, no appointments, just treat yourself. My favourite new finds are Elemis and Bliss. The cleansers, masques and treatments for face are BEYOND compare. Elemis is salon-quality and can be found at 5-star spas with highly trained practitioners OR you can buy it and deliver perfect skin all by yourself at home.
Bliss is a cult range from the UK with body scrubs and butters that get raved about from here to Timbuktu. The packaging will make you smile too. Super bright, colour-blocked geometric shapes with big, blocky typeface that confidently beams at you from the bathroom cabinet saying "USE ME."

So, join in in smothering your limbs in Orange & White Pepper body butter, lathering up in a resurfacing face mask, getting into lotus pose in your Onzie leggings and crop, and cracking open the first page of "Sell Up, Pack Up and Take Off" and let your imagination set flight.

First Run After Hip Surgery

Yes, I'm going to do it. I'm going to step onto the treadmill and run.

I used to run 20km several times a week and I'm one of those people who feel like once you've set a standard, well, it's hard to accept less! HOWEVER, I also don't enjoy running like those natural "it's just so fun" runners - for me, it's all about the music and the mental challenge rather than the actual running.
I did my prep work. As much as I love Nike for fashion, it's the Mizuno Wave Inspire 11 that actually fits me best and gives me the most support without being bulky. I don't need to wear my orthotics with the Mizuno models either - for some reason, they just fit me perfectly.

Totally recommended for runners and gym time. I wear the less support-giving models for weights and doing classes, keeping the Wave Inspire 11 for running duties so that they last longer!
Check out the Mizuno Australia website and Facebook!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

#ClearSkin – Exit hyperpigmentation, dullness, scars and spots

When I was in my early teens, I had terrible acne and went through two rounds of Roaccutane to clear it up. It meant dry eyes, peeling skin, sensitivity and regular blood tests.
Thankfully, my skin has been clear bar the occasional spot since then. I am very, very fussy about looking after it though. That doesn’t mean using the most expensive products or going through any long, complex rituals. It just means I pay attention to whether products actually work and if I end up with spots or redness, or if they leave my skin greasy or peeling, it’s over!
I am a big fan of several skincare brands that really work for my skin. They have targeted products that are used in salons and recommended by dermatologists.
I don’t do facials – as much as I’d love to, I don’t have the money for it and I’m so fussy about the products I use that I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job than me at cleaning and massaging my skin!
I do splash out on laser/IPL/microdermabrasion a couple of times a year. This is how I’d much prefer to spend my money. These are intensive treatments that have a lasting effect on clearing spots, evening skin tone and in my case, blasting tiny broken capillaries around the nose and chin. I’ve got  very pale skin so I find it really noticeable if I have any redness. Microdermabrasion also eradicates blackheads – it is the only treatment where I can go concealer and makeup free for days afterwards feeling my skin is flawless!
If clear, even skin is your 2015 resolution then here’s my recommendations.
Dermalogica PowerBright is designed to reduce and resolve hyperpigmentation. This is uneven skin colour that is very common in women. It’s the result of hormones, scars, spots, prolonged sun exposure and is very common during/after pregnancy.

While my uneven skin tone is very minor, I actually love the PowerBright range because of it’s high dose of vitamin C. It’s healing and restorative after I’ve had laser and microdermabrasion. I also find that the ingredients designed to treat hyperpigmentation also fix up a few pimples within days. It does take about 3 weeks’ to see the full effect so stick with the products daily for that time.

Elemis Resurfacing Mask + Rosepetal Cleanser: Elemis is a luxury skincare brand from the UK that
is used in beauty salons and resorts internationally. I love the Rosepetal Cleanser because it smells heavenly and it’s really gentle on the skin. Using harsh, drying cleansers might make you feel squeaky clean but they actually strip your skin of natural oils and can make it really sensitive and inflamed.

The Resurfacing Mask is my once-a-week treat. I leave it on while I have my breakfast and review my daily duties. I’ve definitely noticed my skin is brighter and softer straight after using it.

As for not doing facials? Well...I AM looking at an Elemis facial because they are the ultimate. I'll let you know if I do it!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

My Beauty Day

I am thrilled with how clear and glowing my skin is looking at the moment! So I had to share my current regime with you. Nothing super complex or fancy about it - just what works for me.
1. Wake up, wash face with Elemis Rosepetal Cleanser then 2. Apply Dermalogica PowerBright Pure Light SPF 50 mixed with 3. Dior Star Foundation. I love a little colour care of 4. Illamasqua blush in Naked Rose 5. NYX Cosmetics retractable lip liner...then in the evening again I wash with 6. Elemis Rosepetal Cleanser, apply 7. Elemis Resurfacing Mask for the super tingly and revitalising 8 minutes before 8. Dermalogica PowerBright C-12 serum and finally, my insurance against puffy eyes, 9. Lancome Hydra Zen Neurocalm Eye Cream

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Scents of Summer

My morning routine prepares me for a workout and the rest of the day. I set my mobile phone alarm but usually wake up a few minutes before. Get up, wash my face, apply my deodorant before I potentially forget, eat breakfast then go through the fun part of picking the colours and scent I'll wear that day.
I have a rainbow and a full wardrobe of different sprays and lotions! I consider what I'll be doing that day and how I want to feel.

About 10 years' ago I discovered a Chocolate Chip Cookie scent and it smelled like it had bottled a bakery. It blew my mind! Ever since, I have been a true Demeter devotee. They bottle fragrances that are totally unique. Scents like Baby Powder take me back to being a kid and entering the bathroom after mum had showered to smell a room full of soap and baby powder. Fragrances are so strongly tied to memory!

This Valentine's Day, I am gifting myself some fragrances. I highly recommend you do the same! The sun is promising to come out and I'm feeling inspired to make my scent sweet and summery.
My picks are Clean Skin, Pistachio Icecream and Vanilla Icecream. All $29.50 from MU Australia.

I also adore Bliss - a brand I only discovered recently. The Blood Orange and White Pepper scent is to die for and I attack my fading self-tan with their Sugar Scrub! I follow it up with their Body Butter for the full Sicilian orange grove effect. Equally yummy and citrus-fresh is their Lemon and Sage Body Butter. If, like me, you are hugely indecisive, I recommend getting the Bliss You Butter Watch Out set of three scents. You might even share it... 

Denise Payne: Fearlessness And Mercy

In the 1970s, as a teenager, Denise Payne was introduced to Kundalini Yoga by her teacher Sat Jiwan Singh. It became more than “a life...