Friday, 29 January 2016

Build toned, defined and sculpted arms

I wrote this initially for ninemsn Honey but sadly, it was tacked on to an article about using fake tan and illuminator to fake toned arms. Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 would not buy it.

Nothing fake about strong arms. This is how to get the "Real Deal". You'll need 1 - 1.5kg dumbbells and some determination. I recommend Kanye West, Beyonce or Rihanna for a bit of "determination" via Soundcloud!

Try these simple yet effective arm-toning exercises from personal trainer Cat Woods. She recommends doing them three times a week either at home or the gym:
Tricep push-ups
#1 Assume a plank position on your knees, and imagine drawing the belly drawing back in toward the lower spine.
#2 Position hands slightly wider than shoulders and ensure that the arms stay hugged towards the rib cage as you lower and raise.
#3 When lowering, make sure elbows travel back towards the toes and that the upper arms brush against body.
#4 On the raise, push hard into the palms and try to maintain a long, strong back.
"Lower down as far as you possibly can and push all the way back up until your arms are straight," says Wood. "With practice, you’ll be able to lower deeper and keep your belly braced for longer sets."
Start off by doing a set of six, resting, then repeating two more times.
Tricep kick-back pulse
#1 Hold a 1kg dumbbell in each hand.
#2 Standing with feet hip distance apart, bend the knees and sit the hips back into a squat. Lean forward from the waist at 45 degrees, keeping the spine long and being careful not to round the back. Focus on pushing into the heels to also work the bum and thighs.
#3 Reach the arms back straight, slightly higher than the torso and giving the shoulder blades a little squeeze.
#4 Make tiny pulses upwards with straight arms, counting to 20. Then, with arms still extended, pulse the weights towards each other for another count of 20.
#5 Release arms and come up to standing. Do this another two times.
"The beauty of these is that they require small weights, very little movements and yet the results are stronger arms, great muscle tone and you have also targeted upper back and core," says Woods.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Stress + Surgery + Scalp and Thinning Hair

I noticed in the months after my hip surgery in September 2014 that my hair was splitting at the ends and felt less full than ever. I've never been Kim Kardashian in the hair department - don't get me wrong - because having naturally wavy, curly hair means inevitably frizz and dryness are two concepts I know well.
Scalp specialists and hair professionals both attest that stress, trauma and environment are key factors in the condition of the hair and scalp. Using chemical-laden products and heat styling only make a bad situation a zillion times worse.
The stress of knowing I would be out of work and also worried I might never do the more flexible yoga poses or the fully weighted squats I love built in the weeks leading up to surgery (I had planned it a year in advance). During recovery there was the stress of finding a new home, arranging to move, seeing family I don't normally see and having to accustom myself to crutches.
It's been almost a year and a half now and I am doing plenty of squats (heavier than before) and plenty of yoga poses (better than ever). My hair has still not fully recovered though. I have a plan of action, of course.
I will be setting aside the usual shampoo and conditioner and using non-toxic, 100% organic Rahua shampoo ($42.95 at Nourished Life) and conditioner ($43.95 at Nourished Life). I will also be avoiding over-use of the straighteners. That's going to be tough but I am determined!
I've also invested in six months of Maximum Strength Viviscal supplements ($179 for 3 month supply). Now, I am sceptical of supplements but I also know I see much clearer skin and have better energy when I take Fish Oil capsules and I have also noticed much more stable energy levels and better digestion when I take probiotics.
Viviscal regularly does clinical trials and have dermatologist approval and advocacy. There's nothing toxic or completely alien in their ingredients either. Based on marine extracts, the supplement is actually inspired by the Inuits - apparently they have richly luscious thick hair as a result of their fish and seafood based diets. So. Bring on the Viviscal maximum strength supplements daily, non-toxic hair products and a major serve of lobster. Stat.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Real Delicious Food

Too often in fitness and in food, there is a message from media, friends, family, personal trainers, supermarkets and pretty much everyone, that you need to follow a specific plan.

Usually, a specific plan that reaps plenty of money and devotion to a brand or individual. Drink our shakes! Purchase our appliances! Follow our instagram! And so forth.

What if you really considered what foods you like, what makes you feel good, what enables you to feel energetic enough to do what you have to do and what do you have the time and the enthusiasm to prepare?

I do have some paleo cookbooks and some raw food and vegan ones. I am not paleo, raw foodist or vegan. I think they have some fabulous recipes and I absolutely respect their ethos. I just know that I find I need animal based protein to feel truly satiated and energised.

I want to share some of the awesome books that are giving me recipe and happy, healthy food love at the moment. They are beautiful to look at and the recipes are not complex. They are not pushing a regimen on you - there's no self righteous eat THIS and NOT THAT! There's just a genuine celebration of flavour, fresh food and great combinations. Divided up between salads, main meals, sweet options and side dishes. Here's the lowdown on Real Delicious and Deliciously Ella.

Real Delicious by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books) is fabulous. The images are gorgeous - but don't be fooled by all the colour and prettiness - the recipes are simple and really good for both singles, small groups of friends and also feeding the whole family. Here are two of my must-try recipes: Japanese Pancakes and Fish and Sweet Potato

Japanese pancakes with mushrooms and chicken
Filled with shredded vegetables, minced lean chicken and protein-packed eggs, this version of a Japanese pancake makes a nutritious and filling lunch or light dinner. In Japan it’s traditionally served with mayonnaise, but I prefer to skip this in favour of a little sweet soy sauce and some salad leaves.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Makes 8

75 g (23/4 oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal spelt flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
3 eggs
11/2 tablespoons peanut or  macadamia oil
200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken  or pork 
150 g (51/2 oz) mushrooms,  finely chopped 
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
130 g (41/2 oz/13/4 cups) shredded  savoy cabbage 
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
Sweet soy sauce, for drizzling
2 teaspoons sesame seeds,  lightly toasted
Sliced spring onions (scallions),  to serve
Baby kale leaves, to serve

Whisk together the flour, eggs and 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) cold water until smooth. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add the mushrooms, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely.

Stir the chicken mixture, cabbage and carrot into the egg batter.

Heat half the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Ladle 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into the pan  and spread out to 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Cook for 3 minutes each side  or until golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while you cook  the rest, adding a little more oil when necessary.

Serve the pancakes drizzled with a little sweet soy sauce and scattered with the sesame seeds, spring onions and kale leaves.

Fish and sweet potato cakes with dill dressing
These fish cakes are made with mashed sweet potato instead of regular potato, and they’re coated in wholegrain oats instead of breadcrumbs. I love using sweet potato because it doesn’t need any butter or salt to taste great. It has a lower GI than regular potato and it’s packed with the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Preparation time: 20 minutes,  plus 30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

400 g (14 oz) orange sweet potato,  cut into 3 cm (11/4 inch) dice
400 g (14 oz) firm white fish fillets
4 spring onions (scallions),  finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 long red chilli, seeded and  finely chopped
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) rolled  (porridge) oats
1 tablespoon olive or macadamia oil
Baby English spinach leaves, to serve

Dill dressing
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon salted baby capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of caster (superfine) sugar

Steam the sweet potato in a steamer over simmering water for  12 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash roughly with a fork and cool.

Steam the fish in a steamer over simmering water for 6–8 minutes  or until just cooked through. Set aside to cool, then flake with a fork.

Combine the sweet potato, fish, spring onion, herbs, lemon zest and chilli in a large bowl. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Form the mixture into eight 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick patties.

Place the oats on a large plate. Press each fish cake into the oats  to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm.

Combine all the ingredients for the dill dressing.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat and cook the fish cakes for 2–3 minutes each side or until golden brown, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Serve with spinach leaves and dill dressing.

Young children love these fish cakes, but you might need to leave out the chilli.
Recipes and images from Real Food by Chrissy Freer (Murdoch Books)

Deliciously Ella Every Day (Hachette) is exactly what it promises: simple recipes from wholefoods that are totally delicious. Some of you have followed Ella's blog and she has a massive social media following. You don't need to be familiar or a fan to find this recipe book totally reliable and enjoyable though. In fact, I am blissfully new to Ella and her wholefood approach. I love it though and want to share some of my fave recipes with you. Enjoy!

Pad Thai

Such a delicious dish, I think it may end up being a favourite recipe for lots of you... it’s certainly very popular in my house! It’s inspired by a recipe that a friend sent to me; I fell in love with it and adapted it over time to create this version. The sauce is definitely my favourite part, as it’s so incredibly rich with the most amazing array of flavours.

Serves 2

For the noodles
2 large courgettes
2 large carrots
100g buckwheat noodles
1 red pepper, cut into very thin strips 
handful of sesame seeds
30g cashew nuts 
10g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

For the sauce
8 tablespoons olive oil
15g bunch of fresh coriander
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon tamari
juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peel the courgettes, then use a vegetable peeler to peel the flesh into strips around the core. I normally discard the seedy centres, as they’re hard to peel. Do the same with the carrots.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Simply place everything into a blender or food processer with 9 tablespoons of water and whizz until smooth.

Once the noodles have cooked, drain them and let them cool for a few minutes.

Place the noodles, carrots, courgettes, pepper, sesame seeds and cashews in a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together, then sprinkle the mint on top.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large pizza crusts / Serves 4–6
4 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cauliflowers (about 1kg), roughly chopped
200g Apple Purée (page 40)
300g brown rice or buckwheat 
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons tamari
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried basil

For the toppings, I like:
tomato purée
sliced tomatoes
canned sweetcorn
sliced mushrooms
fresh basil leaves
handful of rocket 
salt and pepper
olive oil

Place the chia seeds in a bowl with 280ml of water. Leave for 10–15 minutes, until the chia has formed a gel.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C).

Place the cauliflower in a food processor and blend it until a flour-like substance forms; this should take about a minute (you may need to do this in 2 batches). Place in a nut milk bag (page 53) and knead out excess water: it may take a few minutes but it’s a really important step, so please don’t skip it!

Add the cauliflower to a mixing bowl with the chia and apple purée and stir until blended. Mix in the flour, lemon juice, tamari, salt and dried herbs. Slowly pour in 150ml of ice-cold water, using your hands to mix it to a sticky dough. Divide the dough into 2 pieces.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and spread each piece of dough out over it, to form a pizza base. Bake the crusts for 20–30 minutes.

Once they are firm and slightly crispy, add the tomato purée and your toppings (except any basil or rocket), then cook for another 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the leaves, if using, and a drizzle of olive oil, then slice and serve!

Kitchen Know-How
I know it sounds strange to tell you to take the water out of the cauliflower and then add more water to the mix, but – trust me – it’s vital for the recipe to work, as it means you get exactly the right amount of liquid needed for the crust to bake properly.

These recipes are from Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward, published by Hachette Australia RRP $29.99.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Cat's Cult Beauty Brands

Valerie Gradury created Odacite skincare as a result of reinventing her lifestyle to eliminate as many toxins from her diet and environment as possible. Having been diagnosed with breast cancer, she took stock and quit her job, qualified as a health and wellness coach, and began to blend potent plant oils for skin.In 2009, five years after she made the changes to her own lifestyle, Valerie launched the pure plant Serum Concentrates.
I have been using the Olesomes Time Release Creme, which is the base to add the oils to, allowing them to be absorbed by the skin more gradually (overnight).
My two picks (of the many oil blends available!) are Vital Glow Serum (Wild Carrot) and Radiance Effect (Green Tea + Lemongrass).
Both smell like heaven - you will not want to just apply once. The Wild Carrot has a sweetness that wraps you up in a hug and the lemongrass is a hit of fresh, tangy, zesty green. Radiance AND aromatherapy all in one. I'd also love to try the Hyperpigmentation Serum (Papaya + Geranium) and Elasticity Serum (Marula + Neroli).

Cruelty Free. Natural. Made in Australia.
Direct from the state that does the Big Pineapple, surfers, parking meter women in bikinis and crocodiles, comes a skincare range that is gorgeously packaged and really delivers. I’ve featured Rubifresh on the blog in the past. I still love it.
My particular picks are the cleansing gel and cleansing oil. Both smell citrus tangy and will cleanse gently so that you don't feel you just removed your makeup AND every cell of moisture in your body.
I swear by the cleansers and the face and body scrubs. I’m yet to try the Pigmentation Serum but I will be and I will report back. Stay tuned.

There's three "Series" for the Hylamide range, which allow you to use the basic Core range, the specialised Booster range and the Finisher range, designed to blur pores, increase radiance and photographic finish (if you're selfie inclined. I am not.)
These are intense serums and the high concentration of active ingredients means if you have particularly sensitive skin, you may want to apply less product, less often.
I find the Vitamin C (Booster C25) is seriously skin texture nirvana, BUT it's super intense and I prefer to leave it on for two or three hours before bed and wash it off. If you regularly use vitamin C products, you might find you can leave it on all night without issue. I have no issue leaving Booster Radiance on and my recommendation would be to use this on face AND neck and chest to ensure you look radiant from forehead to chest rather than having that "I have been tanning in a turtleneck" look. I love the Low Molecular HA Rehydration Booster. Again, skin looks and feels smoother and I look MUCH less tired in the morning.

I'm new to the Elucent Whitening skincare range, but I'm loving it two weeks' in. This is not a bleach - the whitening refers to evening out any pigmentation caused by sun damage and hormonal imbalances. So, vitamin C, fruit extracts, vitamin E. saffron seed oil and Vitamin B are all combined in the cleanser, moisturisers, eye creams and exfoliators.
Clinical trials have shown improved and clearer skin at 12 weeks (96% respondents) and it's recommended that to see real, long lasting results, at least 3 months regular use should be committed to. Done!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Geo Print Eco Friendly Yoga, Barre, Gym Gear

Pastel pink has been called the colour of 2016 by Pantone, the great colour gurus. This may be so, but as a Yoga Pants Guru, I'm seeing black and white geo print and I am loving it.
Loving it.
Because it's flattering when the angle and placement of the print aligns with your body shape, it can easily be coordinated with block colours and if you're more adventurous, other patterns. It can dial back the intensity of your more eye-popping colour choices, whether that's neon green tank top or aqua blue hair.

Back to Geo Print though. In particular, eco friendly activewear. The fabric and the manufacturing process have been carefully chosen to ensure least damage to natural resources and climate. I believe it's going to become more and more of a political, cultural and social discussion point for 2016 and onwards in the fashion industry. The ethics of our clothing and the imperative to spend more on clothing that meets a sustainability standard rather than throwing away money on 10 pieces of el cheapo mass manufactured tat that will fall apart, fade and tear within 2 washes.

I've loved Om Shanti Clothing for years. Every single pair of pants still looks and feels EXACTLY as it did when it first arrived. No amount of sweating, gym sessions, laundry and sun exposure has faded or stretched it. And it's still super bright. Cannot speak highly enough of Joel and Jackie Strauss who run Om Shanti and really live the message: be active, be good, be considerate of the earth and your footstep on it.
So hard to narrow down my favourites so lucky I've got a theme: the new Black Chakra print Performance Legging is AH mazing. Agreed?

I'm a new convert to Shift To Nature. This is a Australian brand run by the lovely Sonja. Her entire range is eco friendly from design to delivery. Fits like a glove, looks flattering and withstands hot yoga and CrossFit. There's plenty of pieces you can coordinate too. The prints complement one another and there are several pieces in the same prints so that you can go with full length leggings or hot yoga shorts. Lucky. Some days I haven't defuzzed and fake tanned and as we know, those are NOT hot yoga short days. My new favourites? The GeoTech Hot Yoga Bra, Pyramid Hot Yoga Bra and Geo Tech Eco Leggings. They will be featured on my Instagram. Of course! Stay up to date with new products and offers on Facebook:     Eco Active @ Shift To Nature

And last but not least, of course, make sure you coordinate EVERYTHING because it's the small details that can make you smile mid-class, workout or meeting.
Whether you go all fancy with nail art of some wonderful geometric print or just black, just white or a combo - embrace the spirit. Obsessed with OPI Alpine Snow ($19.95 @ Myer)

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Pointe Studio Grip Socks Giveaway

Barre babes rejoice! Christmas may be over, but the gift giving doesn't end for you.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Pointe Studio - a boutique barre, pilates, yoga and dancewear treasure box that also sells the most comprehensive range of patterned and coloured grip socks you can imagine!

From polka dots to stripes, pink, orange, grey and name it, it's there.
What's the benefit of grip socks?

  • No slip grip - perfect for pilates, yoga, barre and BodyBalance (also, the loungeroom)
  • Protects your feet in the cold and in airconditioned spaces
  • Hides the pedicure you didn't have
  • Ensures that if you moisturised the night before class, you won't be sliding around

I have 8 pairs to give away.

All you need to do is follow my Facebook and Pointe Studio.

Leave a comment here telling me where you'd wear your grip socks.

Cross your fingers!

Competition ONLY open to Melbourne residents. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Workout Music - The Guide

Just like I cannot dictate exactly what you should DO for your workout, I cannot dictate what you should listen to.
I can direct you to where to find music though. I'm very eclectic in my tastes and it's important to match your music to your mood, your workout goals and importantly, your music taste.
I can't tell you how many times I've kept running/pushing/holding on because a really killer track comes up in my playlist and I just have to get to the end...of...that...track (phew!)
Here's some picks.
Also, have to give props to the Philips ActionFit Jetkit - earphones that stay in your ears while you're working out. Essential. 

Major Lazer is Diplo's reggae/dubstep/trap project. It's very bleepy, loud, banging and great for:
  • running
  • high intensity intervals
  • rowing
  • kettlebells
Listen to Major Lazer The Workout Mix on Soundcloud. Find Major Lazer on iTunes Podcasts

I love Sascha Fitness on Soundcloud for consistently reliable dance/electro mixes - they're continuous so you can just keep on going without going "Is that another 3 minutes down? I wonder if the next song is 4 minutes and 15 seconds... is this over yet?"
Listen to Sascha Fitness on Soundcloud

The last time I did my own vinyasa yoga practice (eep, over a week ago. Where is my discipline?!) I listened to Outkast. It's not for everyone, of course. I'd opt for something that connects me with the history and spiritual roots of yoga - chants, traditional Indian instruments - but also with a beat that enables me to get lost in the rhythm. Love Durga Dub by Playadusta on Soundcloud.

Got any recommendations? Share them with me in the Comments!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Rickys NYC Beauty Haul

New York is a city of landmarks. From the Empire State Building to the Sex and The City style fashionistas, yellow taxi cabs and of course, the Manhattan skyline at night.
What beauty addicts in New York already know, and what I’m a new inductee to, is that New York is also the home of Rickys NYC. Sure, Jay Z and Alicia Keys didn’t include this in their ode to the city, but little known is that they wrote a WHOLE ALBUM about this place! (this is a lie, but they should have. Maybe I will.)

From cult beauty to the most insane, incredible walls and aisles of colours, textures, serums, lotions, lipsticks, paints, shadows, powders, hair extensions, eyelash curlers... you name it, it’s there in fifty shades and sizes. Get me to New York, New York!
So my travel budget has been chewed up for this year, but thankfully, you can order online. In fact, getting a box of beauty goodies plonked on your doorstep for delayed gratification is one of the most rewarding and exciting occurrences known to beauty junkies.

nugg facemasksNugg Facemasks
 Deep cleansing cucumber extract and jojoba, soothing shea butter and chamomile, exfoliating cranberry seed and jojoba beads, and revitalizing flaxseed and peppermint oil. Every mood your skin pulls (like a cranky toddler, right?) has a fix in these masks. Colour coded and smelling delightful, of course, these are high-tech masks using natural oils and promise not to dry out skin with their gentle formulas. Perfect for stashing in your travel case, gym bag or handbag for post-workout or just post-work skin revival.

Petite Bunny Gloss Bar, RickyCare Soft Touch Eyelash Curler, RickyCare Cleansing Wipes
It’s a gloss with a bunny head. What more do you want?
Eyelash curlers for those girls who need a bit more oomph to their eyelashes. Thankfully I was blessed with dark and naturally curly lashes, but they’re pink. What’s a girl to do?
I feel so Marilyn Monroe wielding them too. Cleansing wipes are an obvious call. With a lipstick collection at least the size of a small island, I feel it’s necessary to use at least 4 shades per day. This requires cleansing and starting over. There’s also the small issue of that “Glow” from post-workout face that is definitely nothing like sweat. It’s a glow. Cleansing is good, regardless, if you don’t want your glow to result in a whole lot of spots and blackheads.

Z Palette, Makeup Blender, False Eyelashes, Hair Clips
While a girl can never have enough makeup, obviously, there comes a time when you need to travel with it and you need to make that decision: What To Take and What To Leave?
This is where the Z Palette comes in handy. Get out a spoon or a scooping utensil of any description, take travel size quantities and put them in your little customisable palette with magnets. Then arrange. Voila! All your favourites, in an orderly, neat little package! Also perfect for gifting.
False eyelashes for the butterfly effect. Save them for a big occasion, or do as the most stylish women in the world do and decide that any day, any time is a big occasion and don them today.
A makeup sponge previously seemed to me to be purely for Makeup Artists. But since everyone is doing the selfie, instagram star thing these days, it appears that we are all amateur makeup artists! So the playing field is levelling a little and the tools the professionals wield can be ours. It’s cute and blue and makes my foundation flawless. You don’t absolutely NEED one, but if you wear foundation regularly and you love your tools, do it. Hair clips for pinning your tresses out of your face for makeup and eyelash application. And they have bows! Who could resist? Also good for avoiding the fringe-in-face during your workouts.

Lip Tar, Lip Stain, Lip Gloss, Lip Paint
For all the amazing makeup products out there, I will NEVER never tire of lip colours. Any. All. Gloss, shine, matte, neutral, dark, light...I love it all.
One might say I’m obsessed. Which is particulary fitting, because my biggest haul is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics vegan lip tar, lip gloss, and lip stains in matte and metallic shades from mauve and orange to neutral. SO good. I didn’t want to be totally one-track minded so I also have a lip tint mousse from LA Splash in Nymphaea which is suitably Kylie Jenner-lips worthy. There is a colour for you. Check out the below swatches of OCC Lip Tar.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

How to Stick To Your Workout

  • Dress For It
  • Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
  • Be Accountable (Make Friends, Go To Classes)
  • Set a Routine
  • Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge

Pictured: Nike sneakers, Onzie tank top (black), Pointe Studio "Sanity Not Vanity" tank, Pointe Studio grip socks, Om Shanti leggings

Dress For It
Just as you have a wardrobe for your work life and your weekend life, you need one for your workouts. This isn’t something to dread! This is the really fun part. Everyone from Dotti and Supre to Chanel has workout options so you are spoilt for choice. Spend on workout gear that will last through lots of washes, plenty of stretching and sweating without losing colour, elasticity and shape. My favourites are perfect for yoga, pilates, barre, BodyPump and then running around town to meetings and chores.
We can’t all live in sneakers (I try, I really do) but since you’ll be wearing them day in, day out – buy ones you love and that suit your activity. I used to think the Nike Free were a great alternative to thongs but in fact, they are great for low-impact workouts like BodyPump, weights, elliptical trainer, Spin and so on. I order from Eastbay because there’s a zillion options to choose from and if you order two pairs at a time (or hook up with a friend who wants to order too) the postage is worth it. For really flattering fit and eye-grabbing prints, my fave brands for yoga and barre workouts are:
Onzie (LA based yoga brand that is spot on for fit, colour and prints)
Om Shanti (always gets me noticed - can't go out in these without someone asking about them! Great prints, great cut, eco friendly)
Pointe Studio (if you love barre, you need this brand. Grippy socks and cute slogan tank tops are a must - equally good for pilates and yoga)
BrasilFit (some say Italians Do It Better, but when it comes to leggings and bikinis, Brazilians Do It Better By Miles)
DharmaBums (Aussie, Chic, yoga gear for surfer girls)
and DivaFit Sportswear (because who doesn't need sparkly mermaid print leggings in their life?)

Keep an eye out for a Pointe Studio barre/yoga/pilates grippy socks giveaway!

Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
I love SoundCloud. As I’m gulping down coffee and responding to emails in the morning, I’m also madly seeking new music to power my own workouts and my classes. I share what I really love on my own SoundCloud profile 
Some mixes you can download, but there’s an endless number of streaming lists and stand alone tracks. You might also subscribe to Spotify or Pandora, Apple Music or Google Music. Whatever your predilection, stock up on tunes that you WANT to listen to. Don’t feel you need to listen to grinding, ear splitting drum n bass just because you think that’s what you’re meant to run to. I have racked up my best times listening to Hole, Faith No More and even ABC Radio National Breakfast.
Attach your music to you. Carrying your phone around is bound to end in either losing it or damaging it. One dropped dumbbell and bam.
While out shopping for a hands-free car kit for my phone (one fine later...), I discovered Belkin ALSO do kickass fitness accessories. I snapped up the new Fitness Belt and Armband for iPhone (what chance did I have of refusal? It comes in pink!). The belt is a good alternative if you don’t like wearing an armband while working out and vice versa. The bonus with the belt is that you can also put your locker key, car keys and ID cards in your belt and feel secure knowing your valuables aren’t vulnerable.
Do you need those fluffy, furry Dolce & Gabbana headphones? Probably not. Find headphones or those behind-the-ear hooks for your earphones to prevent them constantly dropping out (so frustrating mid-run/weights set).
Be Accountable
It took me years of gym time before my curiosity and desire for more diversity drove me into a group fitness class. As someone who prefers to workout alone, it was a revelation to walk into a class (feeling totally intimidated!) and find that about 10 people wanted to help me set up, whispered little tips when I was doing things that were easily fixed, and cheered me on when I got through the tougher tracks. This is what got me addicted to BodyPump and later provided the catalyst for me to train as a BodyPump instructor and become a group fitness devotee.
No matter whether you thrive in communal situations generally or you’re a lone wolf, there’s something really uplifting about being part of a united effort if only for an hour a few times a week. There’s so many options too – from CrossFit to Yin Yoga, Latin Dance to Animal Flow to the classics of Step Aerobics and BodyPump.
Be adventurous – resolve with a friend to try at least 3 new classes in a month. It might be how you discover a class you become hooked on for life.
The other great thing about classes is that if you go regularly for more than 2 weeks, you’re considered a regular and people will wonder where you are if you don’t show.
 Introduce yourself to the teacher. Teachers love knowing your name and your reason for coming.
Feeling really adventurous? What about enrolling in a short course of classes in trapeze, circus skills or martial arts? The beauty of searching on Google!
Set A Routine
There’s no ideal time to go to the gym that applies to every single person everywhere. Just as there is not a single workout style and length that is uniformly effective. That said, establishing a routine is the best way to ensure you maintain your workouts. Especially when you first start out, or you’re returning after a break, having a set time and place helps. How?
You don’t need to wait for that elusive motivation to appear. It doesn’t. You just do it. Sometimes it feels fantastic, sometimes it feels like a grinding horrible never ending lifetime of yuck. But you do it and if nothing else, you’ll feel accomplished afterwards.
You don’t need an expensive Training Diary or 20 Apps to track your workout, calories, mood, sleep, heartbeat, bowel movements and whatever. A simple weekly/monthly calendar where you pencil in the classes you’ll go to is ideal. Put reminders in Google Calendar to pop up an hour or so before your workout or class so you can get your water bottle, your sneakers on and your hair up.
Preparation is key.
Pictured: Goodies from my new obsession, Ricky's NYC - so much makeup. So New York.
Not everyone advocates makeup to the gym. That’s cool. It’s part of my routine for getting ready and having a routine to prepare puts you into the mindset of “this is my routine, whether I feel excited about it or dreading it.”
I get onto Soundcloud, put on whatever I feel like listening to, drink my coffee (make sure you leave half an hour between last coffee and starting your workout – tummy will thank you) and then when I am suitably caffeinated and emails have been responded to, I put on my foundation (very fussy about this – since I’m gonna be sweating, it MUST not make me break out or melt into my clothes!) and lip colour. If I’ve got another 5 minutes to spare, I go all out and brush bronzer and highlighter on too. Life is too short not to make use of all the colours. If you are a makeup junkie too – I recommend mineral makeup and using lip stains or long-lasting rather than goopy gloss. Since it’s likely to blur and go shiny – don’t overdo the bronzer, blusher or highlighter if you’re doing that. Just between you and me, Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse, Dior Star and L’Oreal Lumi Magique are safe bets for no spots and irritation during and post-workout.

Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge
Do I need to explain this? I don’t think so... keep a printed copy on the fridge or pinned up behind your screen at work or at home. Circle the classes you can make. Look up timetables online. Keep links to them on your desktop or phone.
Reward Yourself and Don’t Deprive
Not with food.
I am utterly and entirely against linking workouts to food. It’s just not mentally healthy to “allow” yourself A,B,C foods because you did a certain type or amount of exercise. You will hear people doing this all the time. Don’t buy it.
Working out requires adequate fuel and if you want to feel good generally and look good too, eat a variety of foods in moderation and go for vegetables, fruit and lean meats, seafood or whatever your protein of choice is as your staples. Don’t think you need to give anything up that you really like. Not even the half a bag of jelly snakes at 3.30. Working out and being fit isn’t about depriving yourself and abstaining from anything joyful. Equally, it isn’t license to eat like you’ve been locked up and starved for the past 2 years.
If you’re totally bewildered at how to eat well for your body – see a dietitian. Find an accredited dietitian on the DietitiansAssociation of Australia site. 
Get a manicure – you’ll be seeing those nails a lot while you’re lifting dumbbells.
Get a massage – looking after your body is essential to your wellbeing.
Buy another pair of leggings. Can you ever have enough?

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...