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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dance Medicine: Preventing Injury & Strengthening VMO

I saw the physiotherapist yesterday and he was very impressed with the strength I've built in my VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique), the front thigh muscle that stabilises the knee. So many turn-out, straight leg lifts. It has made my abs burn like crazy to do them properly too. Bonus.
As they say though, the best cure is prevention. I don't want to put my joints at risk when I work in fitness and when I love training, teaching and the independence of free movement.
I also want to always be learning more about the body and how it works - the muscles, the bones, the brain. To that end, I have collected my tools and I want to share them with you.

Stretch and self-massage: So important when preventing an injury or just being able to move more freely, to stretch and also to massage and work into muscles that are feeling really tight. I have very tight glutes and hamstrings - especially after a couple of classes in a row. This can pull on my knee joint and also result in compensation with other muscles so that I'm feeling tense and sore.
While a foam roller is great for the ITB, I prefer a massage ball for glutes, back and feet.
My favourite way to use it is to come into a squat with my back against the wall. I place the bakball towards my mid-back and then I slowly come to standing and squat again, allowing the ball to roll up and down my spine. Eases out all those little niggles between the shoulder blades!
There are videos of how to use the bakballs for particular areas. I also take mine in the car and sit it either under my shoulder blades or into my lower back and press back into it. It presses into sore spots. If Drake or Diplo comes on, I end up doing a bit of a dance in my seat, which results in a mini massage. Recommended! 

Understand the muscles you use: Yesterday I asked my class to be curious about their bodies. I think we ought to be in wonderment every day at what we're capable of and the incredibly engineered machine that our body is! Having been through surgery and illness, I have so much appreciation for how the body wants to heal. It wants to perform. It loves movement. 
On my desk is Liane Simmel's Dance Medicine in Practice: Anatomy, Injury Prevention, Training. This is a guide to self-analysis, basic anatomy and injury prevention techniques. It also provides advice around training, nutrition and technique.
Liane Simmel is a former professional dancer who now runs her own clinic in Germany specialising in osteopathy and sports medicine. She also supervises strength and training programs for dance students and professional dancers. Dance Medicine $52.95 @ Taylor and Francis

I'll be attending to the chapters on hips and knees very closely! I'll also be continuing my VMO strengthening. Now, I have popped this video below to encourage you to work your VMO too. It not only helps with stabilising your knee but it also gives you great muscle definition in the front of the thigh (priorities?!) By the way, this is a very appealing trainer with a cool accent. You're welcome - my pleasure.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Beauty School: Cult Beauty Buys and Vitamin B

YSL Touche Eclat is a cult beauty buy worldwide. Not just a concealer in a wand shape, but a brightening pen that works wonders on tired eyes and sallow skin. Models, makeup artists, beauty editors and beauty addicts all have at least one of these magic pens. See image below for a guide to where to conceal - make sure that "teardrop" area inside the eyes is on your radar. It instantly brightens and wakes up the whole face!
Mecca Cosmetica ($59)
L'Oreal True Match Blush in Baby Blossom was a chance discovery. I won the Garance Dore x L'Oreal Beauty Box competition and it arrived along with a bunch of other goodies. It is a pale ballerina pink that I absolutely adore. So subtle and with a naturally pale complexion, this is ideal. Rather than sweeping the apples of the cheeks, it is much more flattering to take blush to the upper cheekbones and towards the upper ear.
Vitamin Grocer Australia ($24.27)

Youngblood Creme Blush in Champagne Life is oil free, cruelty free and enriched with Vitamin C and E. I tend to use this shade as a highlighter rather than a typical blush because it is so glowy. Applied to the centre of the eyelids and the cupid's bow of the lips, it gives you a gentle burst of light where the sunshine would naturally illuminate your face. Glow, my pretty, glow! ($35.20)

Dior Air Serum Foundation is a luxe buy - no doubt. Entirely worth it if you consider cost-per-wear though! This goes on and stays on (through yoga, Pump, barre and meetings) while also being non-comedogenic so no nasty spots as a result of all-day, everyday wear.
David Jones ($79)

Here's another tip. The most vital really. No matter how much makeup you have or use, unless you are caring for your skin, hair and organs by eating well and sleeping, there can be no beauty mecca for you! To paraphrase Roald Dahl. If you are smiling and joyful, sunbeams will radiate from your face and make you truly beautiful.
In addition to joy, I am taking Vitamin B# - the new super dose from Blackmores. Vitamin B3 is essential for DNA repair, energy, digestion, skin and hair strength. It can't replace a balanced, healthy diet and this is your first priority - but if you are vegan or vegetarian, you may need to find out if you're low in Vitamin B generally. Totally recommended. Blackmores ($16)

Monday, 9 November 2015

How to Cope With Injury and Illness When Fitness And Dance Are Your Life

Alongside death, moving house, losing a job and divorce, dealing with physical injury is considered one of the major threats to mental health.
Many, many years ago at the height of my manic hours of running, I would force myself to work through injuries to the point of being incapable of walking from my car to the kerb. I have come to a genuine appreciation of my body and what it can do now and forcing my body into a regime it can't cope with is a foreign idea to me, thank god.

For many who have a daily routine, who work in fitness or play a sport, injury can be isolating. Especially if you can't make the classes where you normally see the same people and it's a social communion that lifts your spirits.

Having strained both knees at the moment, I'm struggling with the mental and physical
consequences. I can't do my usual training routine and I've had to reduce my classes to enable recovery and healing time. Here are my coping strategies and whatever your injury, whatever impact it has on your professional or personal life, I hope these ideas help you.

1. Be sad! Don't feel like you have to puff your chest out, smile and shrug it off. You're not overreacting. This is your body and when it isn't performing as you want it to and it's even causing you pain, that IS sad. This is part of healing.

2. Get the information you need from a professional. Don't self-diagnose (oh, it's probably a twisted ankle, I think I fractured my... etc). See a physiotherapist, a doctor, a sport physiologist and diagnose exactly what the issue is. Then you can determine the best way to rehabilitate.

3. Plan your rehabilitation. Don't set exact timelines. You won't know for sure that your body will follow a set plan. But work out what you can do and what will still make you strong, flexible and able to spend time with others while not compromising your health and fitness.

3. Use the skills you have gained as an athlete, yogi, weightlifting pro in every other aspect of your life. Be strong, be determined, be committed.

4. Don't isolate yourself. Attend classes that you can participate in - even if you need to modify moves and even skip parts of.

5. See a counselor, psychologist, compassionate GP. Being able to talk about your fears, your struggles and your plans with someone who is trained to listen and support is so valuable.

As a barre instructor, I found this site fascinating. Common Dance Injuries by body area. As a hyper-extender (where I lock my knees back), I need to think about keeping flexion or a slight bend in the knees. Trying.
The following info comes from Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries.

Genu Recurvatum (Hyperextension)

" My knees extend way back, and now they’re painful."

Knee Injury Prevention Tip for Dancers

  • Strengthening the knee and hip muscles are critical to preventing overuse injuries. Strong, balanced muscles will help take strain away from the knee.
  • Stretching the knee and hip muscles are equally important in preventing overuse injuries. Stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and hip muscles will help to make your muscles long and lean, and will reduce pull on the different knee structures.
  • Give your body time to rest and heal itself, otherwise damage can build up and cause chronic pain conditions.
  • Listen to your body! If it hurts after class, rehearsal or performance, the chances are you’ve irritated something by over-use. Ease off it, and give it time to heal, otherwise you may end up with an ‘–itis’ type overuse injury.
  • Fatigue sets in at the end of a long day of class and rehearsal. Continued strengthening of the knee and hip muscles is of the utmost importance to prevent injury when the body gets tired.
  • Use proper technique. Alignment in a pliĆ© should always be maintained such that the knee goes directly over the second toe. When the knee falls inside the second toe, it can put increased stress on structures in the ankle, knee, and hip.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Frown Leaves Town and Microhydrodermabrasion for Flawless Skin

I have been getting Botox to my forehead frown lines for the past four years. I am careful to have enough to smooth out the lines without “freezing” my face!
As an instructor, I need some expression and it doesn’t appeal to me at all to look false or to fundamentally change my face.
I have a habit of raising my eyebrows and tensing my forehead constantly. If I’m lying in bed, I notice myself doing it before I go to sleep and first thing when I wake up. I do it when I’m at the computer, or reading, or focusing during a workout. It makes the world of difference to find myself NOT tensing and frowning without having to check in and force it!
It also makes me feel better about myself. I don’t feel any pressure from anyone else. I do it for me.

I am very fussy about who I allow to apply injections to my face. These days, a GP or the local beauty salon can advertise injectables with seemingly very little training or understanding of facial anatomy and biochemistry. Be warned – you want someone who has been practicing long enough to know their business, has a loyal clientele, proven qualifications, and someone who will explain to you what the process is, what the risks are, and what the time frame is around effects taking place then wearing off.
I go across Melbourne to Elwood to see Michael Clague at Facelove. Not only is he exceptionally skilled and experienced (conducting training on cosmetic injectables around Australia), but he is funny, friendly and genuinely loves his work. He understands that I don’t want to look frozen or like the sixth Kardashian sister! I just want to smooth out the forehead creases. I have 12 units of Botox, after which it takes about a week before I notice I’m not tensing and frowning.
Facelove is a small salon located on Glenhuntly Road. There is parking galore around the side streets and it is in a little haven back from the shops and upstairs. Unlike another centre I’ve been to, there is no video running that tells you all the things you could and should do to your face and body! There is a deep respect here for working with what you want and what you don’t want. Having said that, Michael has a portfolio of his work to give an indication of what results can be expected from treating different areas of the face whether with fillers or anti-wrinkle injections.
He is all about natural looking results. You can check out pictures of his clients and there’s also a guide that answers the most common questions.
If you’re more about skin treatments, Facelove also does IPLPhotorejuvenation, laser hair removal, and microhydrodermabrasion (SO SO SO GOOD! Joni B does it - see picture) .
The celebrities are all about their lips and one of the most popular treatments is lip augmentation. Mike insists on balance, symmetry and ensuring that there is no “overtreatment” and falsity about the look. There is a good indication of what to expect on the Facelove website. It’s not cheap, but it does last 9 – 12 months and if it makes you feel more confident and you’ve done your research and decided this is what you want, then make sure you book in with someone who you trust.
Now, I do have to admit I haven’t ever watched The Batchelor (which might make me the ONLY person in Melbourne!) but I know Facelove treat Joni and she is absolutely gorgeous so I’ll have what she’s having! As a major fan of microdermabrasion, my next appointment is the 7 step microdermabrasiontreatment 

Disclaimer! A doctor should always check that you are medically fit for this treatment.

You can book online 
Or call 1300 458 491

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

DIY Manicure and Pedicure - Hello Yellow!

I know some people love getting their manicure and pedicure done in a salon, but it's just not for me. I'm not a fan of making small talk or sitting around being forced to listen to other people making small talk!
I also like throwing on a back-to-back TV series for binge watching, or putting on a long, intriguing podcast episode and flicking through the latest international Vogue editions while I'm waiting for my nails to dry.
I also don't mind getting into a headstand during nail drying time. Not something you'll see encouraged in your suburban nail salon.

Having said that, I only discovered CND through a salon and it is awesome. Along with OPI and Orly, I have a new go-to nailpolish label.

I managed the long, difficult task of choosing my colours (it had to be Vinylux because it promises to stay the distance: one week, no chips...your time starts now.)
No base required. The colour coat goes on, followed by the Weekly Top Coat and you're all clear to go lift weights, exfoliate like a madwoman, peel oranges, garden and grab stuff without needing to remove and reapply only days later. Phew.

Because life is too short for boring nails, I went with Bicycle Yellow and Sultry Sunset.

Also, because life is too short to smell like anything other than fruit and spices and flowers, I couldn't skip the wash and moisturiser in Black Cherry and Nutmeg. This is my full home spa experience after all!

I've got the 100% soy candle burning (Lux 400, made in Victoria!), the latest Vogue Italia (hey, it's free! My local library recognises a fashionista magazine addict and indulges me), my nail polish remover, Nurse Jackie Season 6 and a big plunger of coffee. And some free carpet space for headstand. Just in case.

If you are not able to paint inside the lines, or you want to be pampered, you can find a CND Spa via their site.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

November Reads

I know it's low-tech, old school to still love reading things that don't require an "On" button. I think it's entirely healthy and necessary to get your eyeballs off a screen and embrace the tactile nature of books. Especially when they are as weighty and beautiful as Dr Lisa Cooper's ode to her floral business and lifestyle, The Flowers. I am also inspired and motivated by 2,100 Asanas. What would Mr Iyengar say? I imagine he'd do them all with joy and energy, ultimately.
Thrown into the mix is some fiction. Time spent in another parallel universe is excellent for the mind and spirit. Even if it is a brain-twisting, dark mystery. Here's my November picks (and they also make great Christmas presents. Bonus.)
Sydney florist Dr Lisa Cooper has compiled a beautiful collection of photos and stories from the farms where she sources her flowers through to her unique bouquets. We see the studio, the shop, the growers. Love the stories of the family, friends, artists and florists who have inspired her. The Flowers by Dr Lisa Cooper (Murdoch Books)
Daniel Lacerda (Mr. Yoga) has compiled the complete 2,100 Asanas in this fabulous tome. Each pose is performed in photographs with instruction, the English and Sanskrit names and a guide to modifications. Especially inspiring is the inclusion of the recommended Drishti (focus in the pose) and the chakras affected. The book breaks the poses into 8 categories: standing, seated, core, quadruped, backbends, inversions, prone, and supine, then from the basic to the challenging. 2,100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses by Daniel Lacerda (Murdoch Books)
An account of the introduction of Buddhist Art across Asia, especially in India. Author, Dr A. S. Bhalla delves into the architecture and meaning behind monasteries, statues, design features that reflect the spirituality and faith of Buddhist artists and monks as their work appears in different forms of Buddhist art (architecture, sculpture and painting) from Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia to Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand in Southeast Asia, and China, Japan and South Korea in East Asia. Beautiful illustrations of temples, paintings and sculptures. If you have any interest in the Asian landscape, Buddhism or architecture, do this. Buddhist Art in Asia by A.S Bhalla (Austin Macauley Publishing)
Carrie Brownstein, guitarist of punk-indie trio Sleater-Kinney, is a natural writer and author. I suspected as much, being a fan of Portlandia, which she co-writes with the equally hilarious Fred Armisen. I have been guilty of lumping Sleater-Kinney with the riot grrrl movement of the 90s, but in fact this label rubs Brownstein the wrong way and years upon years of journalists referring to the "all girl" band or asking what it's like to have no men in the band has made her quite prickly about that definition. Fair enough. Sleater-Kinney were a great band - whatever the gender! This is a sometimes uncomfortable delve into family, the sacrifices made for creative endeavours and the reality of life on the road. And seriously, I thought my family were weird, but I'm outrivalled here. Between her runaway anorexic mum and her gay dad, Brownstein makes a case that if you're a born creative and you run on passion, intensity and a bit of crazy, there's a tribe of people out there for you. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein (Hachette Publishing)

Friday, 30 October 2015

Sowing The Seeds and Making Your Intention Come To Life

Have you had times in your life where you've deeply mourned the end of something or come to the end of a relationship and thought, THAT was a big chunk of my life wasted!?
I have. But I've also discovered that while not everything has an obvious purpose or meaning, quite often things that I've struggled with at the time have been entry points to opportunities - whether it's jobs or meeting new people or going to new places - that I wouldn't otherwise have known.

I am facing the end of a class that I have adored taking for over four years now and while it makes me very sad to think of it ending, I also remind myself that I've loved it for four years. My teaching style has evolved and I've watched my regular participants get stronger, more flexible, walk taller. I have gone into every class wanting to be there and delivering. I have sown the seeds to be able to move into something else and know that the experience I've had has prepared me for what's next.

I've been excited about the prospect of what else I could do. I'm curious and passionate about so many things. I will always teach - in some way, in some place - but I also want to write, to design, to collaborate creatively and to share my excitement for colour, texture and the incredible universe of beauty and fashion. I've also always been a media junkie. I could edit and write about music, beauty, fashion and design 24 hours, 7 days a week.
These are all things I'm exploring.
I digress though. I wanted to introduce you to a concept in yoga called Sankalpa. In the same few days, I was listening to two podcasts discussing this and both were very different. One was a Hindu yoga practitioner and the other was Jillian Michaels. Essentially, both had the same message though. The actions we take, with the intentions we have, are much more valuable and important than the outcome of whatever those actions are. If you put all your energy and your passion and your focus into your yoga class today - does it matter that you get to the end and you can't get your leg over your shoulder and do a perfect peak pose? For every minute, you felt fully present and every muscle and every thought and breath mattered to you. That has to be enough. Then, because you have applied yourself so intensely and devotedly this time, maybe next class or the class in two weeks' time, you will find yourself in a pose you hadn't even imagined your body would manage. 
Sankalpa translated means resolution, or resolve. It is setting an intention to give your mind a clear direction and focus. It is less about the actual result, than the intention behind it. 

Swami Satyananda, in his book Yoga Nidra, says 'The resolve you make at the beginning of the practice is like sowing a seed, and the resolve at the end is like irrigating it’.

I have gone into every one of my classes with the full intention of informing on safe and effective methods of being stronger and more flexible. With the full intention of inspiring greater body awareness and appreciation for muscles and movement. I have had the full intention of making the environment one of inclusion, and a joyful and challenging space. 
I don't regret that for a moment and I believe that I have sown the seeds in every minute and every hour of teaching that particular class time that have made whatever comes next possible.

Bahia Yoga gives a nice, easy guide to 5 Tips On Choosing A Sankalpa.

If you're up for a bit of homework, have a think right now about a time when you challenge yourself - whether it's personal or professional - and set an intention that you can return to.
Maybe it is to attempt a pose or a technique that you have been afraid of. Maybe it is to be kinder and more patient. Maybe it is to reject the voice that says you aren't good enough or accomplished enough. Maybe it's to sit with uncertainty about your future and your life and to see that as fascinating and a world of opportunity rather than something to be feared. Maybe it is to face something more confronting and scary like an addiction or a habit that you are struggling with and to stop. Keep coming back to your intention until it comes to fruition. Then make another.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Black Yo)))ga Asanas Ritual

A couple of weeks ago, an article in Body + Soul introduced me to a range of new yoga styles. This included aerial and horseback yoga. The most interesting and appealing, though, was Black Yoga. What began as vinyasa yoga set to drone, noise, stoner metal, ambient, industrial and "space doom" meditation music in 2012 has made its way out of Pittsburgh and into the international sphere via the first Black Yoga DVD, Asanas Ritual: Volume 1.
This, as Black Yoga would say, is some #zenshit. I have listened to the soundtrack several times now and practiced to it while awaiting my DVD to arrive. It is ideal music to contemplate life, yoga and the universe to - there's no screaming, no thrashing, nothing Rammstein about this. It's the surprisingly peaceful creation of metallic hippies and doomlords.
It may, initially, seem like a juxtaposition. The ferocity of metal and doom combined with the all-embracing, loving nature of yoga?
In fact, yoga is more complex than that. It asks us to be fully present, right now. Black Yoga does that. It asks us to bring passion, curiosity and intensity to our bodies, minds and practice. Black Yoga does that. It asks us to meditate and to follow some universal truths and values for our own benefit and that of others, and to detach from the actual results of doing so.

So I'd ask you to shrug off those sceptical thoughts, question your preconceived ideas and expectations about yoga and about Black Yoga, and start with the soundtrack. If you dig it, like I do, then venture forth and give the Asanas DVD a whirl. You don't have to be a stoner rock loving hippie peace unicorn. You just need a body that breathes and a readiness to confront your darkness in order to appreciate the light. Check out the trailer for the DVD below. Enjoy.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

ABC of Skincare & Retinol for Acne, Wrinkles & Pigmentation

If you're serious about skincare, you are familiar with retinol. It's a form of Vitamin A that is used in both prescription and over-the-counter skincare products to alleviate acne and also to refine and plump ageing skin. It is found in high concentration in Accutane, which I did two rounds of as a teenager with terrible acne. It is a powerful ingredient and skin is highly sensitive to sunlight, tends to dry out easier and the lips need constant balm application.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. It completely cleared my skin.

For the past few years I have used a prescription Retinol (try Retin-A) but, through my strict research (Elle, Harper's, Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia, etc) I kept coming across a few dermatologist-recommended skincare brands using high-grade, proven ingredients.
So I had to have what the Italian, French and UK fashionistas are having, of course.
SkinCeuticals does two speeds of Retinol. Because I have been using a prescription retinol for so long, my skin is primed for the more powerful 1.0% formula. If you are new to retinol use, start with the less intense option (0.5% formula). Retinol has been proven to reduce acne, diminish wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation. It is magic for clearing up blackheads and promotes collagen production for a more dewy, plumped appearance to the skin. Applied overnight, I use it three times a week. In this weather, I avoid direct sunlight and always apply SPF. Also, it is essential to avoid retinol if you are pregnant. This is true of any Vitamin A formula.

My current issue is uneven skintone. I'm naturally pale and for me, it's highly noticeable around my chin and jaw. So in combination with retinol, I'm using the Metacell Renewal B3. It sounds super scientific and promises to "re-clarify skin, reduce wrinkles, re-tighten surface elasticity, and even skin tone". I apply it 15 minutes before makeup in the morning and it leaves my skin smooth and primed for concealer. I have also used Medik8 Hydr8 B5 serum and it is awesome. You only need a few drops at a time. Worth every penny!

Since we've done Vitamin A and B, it's only fair to bring in the final factor. Vitamin C, when delivered in a highly stable and concentrated solution, is a powerful antioxidant. It protects against environmental damage (pollution, excess heating and cooling, dirt and grime) as well as repairing damage from sun exposure and pigmentation. I am a convert to Medik8 CE-Tetra. Medical grade Vitamin C and you only need a few drops at a time so it will last you for ages. Think of cost per use!

I highly recommend that your first port of call, before you consider clinical lasers or other interventions, is to invest in retinol and skincare that is suited to your skin (both the tone and texture). This might be pharmaceutical grade, like SkinCeuticals and Medik8, or it may be all-natural and organic. Do your research and only be satisfied with results that work for your skin. Some of the cheaper, supermarket ready skincare makes big promises but the concentration of vitamin A, B and C is just too low to have any effect. Be warned.
Full range of Medik8 and Skinceuticals available at FacialCo.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lean Green Superfood: Matcha for Weight Loss

As a green tea lover of many years, I know of the reported benefits: high in antioxidants, energy boosting, appetite stabilising (no riding the serious ups and downs of coffee!), but matcha green tea is a new beast. Entirely more intense than your standard green tea.
Matcha is touted as being the anti ageing ingredient the Japanese have been indulging in for centuries. American, UK and Australian holistic health practitioners are raving about its benefits and while it isn't going to cure cancer or immediately see you drop 2 dress sizes, it DOES have research to back up some serious health and fitness benefits.

  • Rich in trace minerals and vitamins, matcha is consumed by adding hot water (NOT boiling!) to powder and drinking the entire concoction, ground leaves and all
  • The vital ingredient in matcha is a substance called EGCC (epigallo-catechin gallate), which has shown weight loss benefits in numerous studies.
  • Levels of EGCC are 137 times stronger in matcha than green tea
  • Like all green superfoods, matcha contains chlorophyll, minerals and vitamins that support the immune system and deliver powerful antioxidants
  • L-Theanine levels in matcha green tea can have a calming effect within 30 - 60 mins of consuming the tea
The greener the powder, the higher the quality of the tea. While EGCC has been shown to prevent the growth of new fat cells and to aid in weight loss, this is only of benefit as part of a healthy regime of eating and exercise overall. You can't drink matcha while you're gobbling KFC and expect miracles. Try replacing your second coffee, or your afternoon Diet Coke with matcha to avoid the jittery caffeine effect. A great post-workout beverage as well - stabilising your energy and appetite before your next meal.
Matcha Maiden Matcha Green Tea Powder from Nourished Life
Izu Japanese Matcha Green Tea from Tealyra

Monday, 19 October 2015

Breast Cancer Pink Products - Shop Your Support

Every October there's a blush that falls over the shopping aisles. Your favourite lipstick comes in pink casing, there's pink tennis balls, pink deodorant, pink pens and diaries. While you may be sceptical about it, or confused by what it means, ultimately buying that product puts money towards breast cancer research and treatment.
As we all know, despite humidity, I cannot be prevented from wielding a hair straightener and a handful of sprays, serums and conditioners to make sure it's all glossy and Melbourne-Weather Proof (this is MWP Hair!). I love those images of classic film stars with hair rollers in and silk robes on (stiletto heeled slippers optional) so I went all Dolly Parton with the hair products and chose VS Sassoon Straight 2 Curl and Secret Curl Silicone pop-up rollers. Check out the video on how they work. And remember Dolly: The Higher The Hair, The Closer To God.

Read more about Vidal Sassoon Power of Pink Collection and their support for Breast Cancer Network Australia: Vidal Sassoon Power of Pink.

While I am incredibly lucky to not have experienced breast cancer nor had any of my nearest and dearest struggle with it, I know that it is incredibly confronting and scary for the woman and for her family and friends. BCNA were kind enough to ask Renee Gani to share her experience. They have also given us some information on awareness and resources. This is also an insight into where your dollars go when you choose to spend on pink products. So you can glow (pink) with pride.

The average age of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 60. While breast cancer in women under 40 is not common, it does occur, particularly where there is a strong family history of breast cancer. It is important for women in their 20s and 30s to be aware of the risk factors and to discuss any changes to their breasts with their GP.  While most breast changes are not due to breast cancer, it is important to have them checked.
Melbourne mother of two Renee Gani says being diagnosed with breast cancer young had a huge impact on her and those around her.
“I was 36 when i was diagnosed with breast cancer, before then it had never crossed my mind that I could one day be going through this experience. I was shocked and fearful of what the future held.”
“My loved ones were really rocked by my diagnosis. My boys were 3 years old and 7 months at the time so there was a lot happening already. But we all grouped together to stay strong, my family and friends were my greatest support.”
With one in eight women expected to be diagnosed by the time they turn 85, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian women. This year alone 15,600 Australian women and 145 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) CEO Christine Nolan says health and wellness is an important part of staying well after a breast cancer diagnosis.
“Exercise during and following breast cancer treatment has a number of benefits, not only can it reduce the risk of breast cancer returning, but it can also help to improve emotional and physical wellbeing.”
BCNA has a range of resources and programs which provide women with reliable information and advice, and practical strategies to help them improve their health and wellbeing. These include:
  •   Active and WellAfter Breast Cancer - BCNA’s pilot initiative funded by the Victorian Government, designed to help women improve their physical and emotional wellbeing following treatment for breast cancer. The initiative is designed to connect women with others in their local community who also want to take charge of their health and wellbeing and link women with local community-based programs and services to help them improve and maintain regular physical activity and healthy eating.  
  •  The Breast Cancer and Exercise and Healthy Eating and BreastCancer booklets – two free information resources which include reliable and easy to understand information, and advice from women who have been through similar experiences.
  • Personal Stories Section. Personal stories from women who have experienced breast cancer. 

Renee says her diagnosis prompted her to take control of her health and wellbeing and make positive changes to her lifestyle.
“My diagnosis put things in perspective. I made a conscious effort not to sweat the small stuff, stay focused and just take is day as it comes. Being active and aware of my diet has also become more important. Lots of fruit and veg, water and nothing too sugary like lollies or soft drink. I still can’t say no to chocolate every now and again though!”
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an important time to share my message to young women, which is to be breast aware, know your body and check yourself regularly.”
If you or someone you care about has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, contact Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) for a My Journey Kit, a free information resource for newly diagnosed women - 1800 500 258 or

Friday, 16 October 2015

Gym Bag Essentials for Summer

Hello Sun - nice to have you back in Melbourne at full freakin' strength.
Time to rejig the skincare, food and drink choices, makeup and gymwear options. Yes, full length tights aren't always suitable for more humid weather. And heavier, warm foods aren't always conducive to a comfortable sleep on humid, hot nights.
So pour yourself a cold brewed coffee (super strong plunger coffee left in the fridge overnight? Ideal morning greeting!) and add these summer staples to your own gym bag. If it makes you feel good about working out and looking after yourself, it's an investment in your wellbeing and maintaining healthy, body happy habits!

Om Shanti Clothing Power Capri in Fractal Spiral Cleft and Yoga Heart Crop Top are ideal summer yoga, pilates, barre, dance and gym fashion. I have tried and tested this brand in hot yoga, outdoor yoga, barre, weights and cardio sessions and also hardcore supermarket workouts (stretch, grab, lift and squat!). Functional AND fashionable.
The Little Alchemist Pineapple & Zeolite Micropolish is cruelty free, natural, certified organic and 100% Australian made. And it smells like a tropical cocktail! You'll be counting down the workout seconds until you can hit the shower and polish up.
The Little Alchemist Cacao & Cardamom Body Serum combines acai and goji berries, wheatgrass, chocolatey cacao and spicy cardamom to nourish your skin with all natural, certified organic ingredients. You'll smell like a fruity dream as you float from the steamy studio to your coffee date.
Medik8 CE Tetra (from Facial Co) is a high quality, concentrated vitamin C serum that will last for ages. You only need to apply a few drops to your face, wait a minute, then apply your skincare and makeup. Vitamin C retexturises and brightens the complexion. It fights acne, blemishes and protects against environmental damage. I apply it ritually morning and night!
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation with SPF 18 sunscreen. Affordable, non comedogenic, hydrates skin and comes in so many tones, you will definitely find a perfect match. I'm 220 Natural Beige. If you're less about a liquid foundation, try...
Maybelline Fit Me Stick Foundation with SPF 15 sunscreen (I'm 130 Buff Beige) which is perfect for spot-prone skin because it's:

  • oil free
  • natural and matte (no shiny face!)
  • easy to keep subtle or build for fuller coverage
W3LL People Bio Brightener is an all natural, cruelty free illuminating stick. The creamy formula is lightweight and easy to apply quickly and effortlessly. You could keep it in your handbag or the glovebox for touch-ups! Try applying it under the outer edge of your eyebrows, on the height of the cheekbones, and a dab on the cupid's bow. The spots where the light naturally hits your skin. I also adore the W3LL People Bio Bronzer. Again, this is a creamy formula that you can draw on (I feel like Tank Girl!) then blend with your fingers, a sponge, or a brush. With extracts of aloe, green tea and chamomile, you're nourishing your skin as well as looking gorgeous. Both available at Beautiful Because (all about natural beauty products).
KMS Tame Frizz De-Frizz Oil is lightweight, non greasy and creates a barrier to prevent humidity attacking your perfect #gymhair #ballet topknot! Use on wet hair OR dry hair. 
VS Sassoon Straight & Curl is cheaper than some of the hair styling tools out there, and having used it for several months now, I would entirely recommend it for straightening AND creating curls. I especially love that you can adjust the heat settings so that if you have thinner strands, you're not blasting them with full bore heat, whereas coarser hair might require a bit more oomph. Plus the same tool gives you dead straight style or gorgeous mermaid waves and curls. BONUS! By buying from the VS Sassoon The Power of Pink collection, you're supporting VS Sassoon in donating to Breast Cancer Network Australia.

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