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Saturday, 30 April 2016

How To Use Sports Psychology To Master Mind Over Muscle


How Bad Do You Want It?

Endurance sports journalist, Matt Fitzgerald, argues it all comes down to posing this question to yourself and if you do want it, then you can take actions to make it happen.

This is not just elite athletes, of course. It's anyone who needs the motivation to perform - whether it's fitness or your sales job, your desire to get through a triathlon, write a novel, cycle to work daily, complete a second degree. These things take mental courage and commitment.

Matt has worked with elite athletes from all over the world and what he reveals is that ".001 percent have the same psychological vulnerabilities that the rest of us have, and must overcome them to achieve things...Talent alone doesn't cut it."

Talent alone doesn't cut it.
This might be enough for some of you to throw in the towel. For the rest of us, it's inspiring. Regardless of skill, it comes down to attitude towards our goals and working for it.

Here's what to keep in mind, whether you're just beginning or you're already established as an athlete, a performer, an executive or contemplating a half-marathon.

If you want to read Matt's book, it's How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald (Murdoch Books, $29.99)


Embrace principles of Psychobiological Performance

Samuele Marcora, an Italian exercise physiologist, introduced the theory of mind and body as interconnected. Essentially, biology matters but psychology rules

Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi, said (almost 100 years' ago!) "Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind."

It is not the actual, objective "hardness" of a task that matters, it is how hard you think it is. It isn't possible to outrun and out-think a physical endurance challenge entirely, but an athlete's relationship to putting in the effort and to focus is key.

Alter your focus: the competitor ahead of you, the memory of losing a similar race, the feeling of winning, the next check-point.

Be Your Own Sports Psychologist

Research methods that athletes and performers use to inspire and motivate their training, their performance and their endurance. 

Don't be afraid of stress, fear and discomfort. Use them as challenges. 

When you're struggling, ask yourself How Much Do I Want It? and if you can honestly respond, More, then despite it being harder than the questions of how often to train, how much to eat, which shoes to wear and time to beat, you will prove it.

Find An Accomplice or Many

While many endurance athletes train alone in the early hours or late at night, depending on their work and family commitments, many also engage in team training or participate in forums.
The beauty of social media is that even if you can't find an accomplice to run with, cycle besides, go to classes with... you can share your goals, your weaknesses, your questions and your insights in online forums.

Go to classes. Join running groups. Start an online group that meets once a week to train. 

Imagine An Audience

In 2003, a university in Arizona ran an experiment to see if students would benchpress greater weights for longer under three scenarios:
1. Alone
2. In competition with other students
3. Alone in front of an audience

To the surprise of the study authors, the students performed significantly better in front of an audience than in competition with others. The act of questioning their perceived exertion or wanting to perform for themselves an others may have driven this. 

You don't need an audience. You can imagine one. What does your victory look like? Does your training regime inspire and motivate them? 

Listen To Your Body: Don't Over-Train

We live in a culture that embraces the Harder. Faster. Stronger. mentality.

Knowing when you're pushing too hard or being excessive is vital to maintaining a training regime that will keep you mentally and physically on your game.

Triathlete, Paula Newby-Fraser, took a year off triathlon training after a particularly exhausting and physically debilitating defeat. She reflected during this time on the fact she had allowed her insecurity and desperation to achieve to force her to train too fiercely, and to exhaust her body. She had beaten herself up wanting to win.

She decided to return to triathlon and to do the might Kona but this time, with "no expectations". In yoga, this choice to pursue any goal or lifestyle purely for the lessons and the experience rather than attaching to the results is called abhyasa

Paula later embraced trail running and mountain biking in addition to Ironman (which she mastered aged 40) and in advice to the great Australian Ironwoman, Mirinda Carfrae, said: "The greatest lesson as an athlete and in training is just don't get greedy. The media is going to push you and hype you. So is everyone else. You have to just have faith in yourself, and faith in your coach, and just believe. When it's working, it's working. Don't mess with success, right?"

Embrace And Enjoy The Challenge

Whatever your challenge, or challenges, embrace the uncertainty and the discomfort that are inevitable.

As Matt says, "The path between you and the best you can be is unexplored territory."
None of us can know what we're capable of. None of us have the answers as to how to be the greatest we can be laid out and easily defined in front of us.

You're embarking on a journey that is mental more than physical and the more obstacles you face, the more you must channel the athlete and the person you want to become. All you need to do is be genuinely curious and determined to see how far you can go.

Nobody Else Knows What You're Capable Of. 
You don't. They don't. 
You must listen and learn from people who inspire you, who know things you want to know, but don't put all your faith in someone else - or even many others - to tell you what you can and can't do or how you should do it.

The challenge is to ask yourself what works, what doesn't, what feels right, what your weaknesses are and how you can change that, or avoid that bringing you down when it matters.



Monday, 25 April 2016

Forecast: Juicy Skin & Eyelashes

All new beauty products have been appearing on the market, with a heightened focus on both ethical production and ingredients, and also a greater emphasis on science and plant extracts.

Australian beauty lovers are worldly women, of course, and there's something very exciting in discovering an incredible brand that isn't widely available or known in Australia (Isa's Restoratives, hail Brooklyn!). There's something really joyful in discovering a local brand that is hitting the mark when it comes to killer packaging, great formula, ethical and local production. With that in mind, meet:
Skin Juice

Gorgeous packaging.
Let's face it. While you may not pick a book by its cover, you certainly go for beauty products that are going to make you glow just by seeing them in your cabinet.
Bright, graphic and clever tubes and tubs for the face care range won me over. I've been using the deliciousy scented Vanilla & Honey Face Mask for hydration, the mattifying and oil-fighting Citrus Juice for daily use, and the Good Juice as an overnight skin rejuvenator.
Because they are plant and fruit-based, the scents are absolutely gorgeous. Subtle but gently spicy. The cranberry and kakadu plum infused mask is especially yummy.
The pump action tubes are clean, easy to use and mean the product lasts longer without the taint of fingers-in-formula day after day.
The full range of facial products on their website.

Here's my proud boast of the post. I have naturally lengthy, up-curled eyelashes. Whee. It's great. While I'd love to add mascara for drama, I find that half way through the day my eyes get sensitive and red. So, naturally, the idea of boosting my lashes without needing makeup is perfect.
If you were a teenager in the 90s too, chances are you over-plucked your brows into a Drew Barrymore/Courtney Love era thin line and regret it. So lastnight I began using Medik8 Lash & Brow Duo. The First Green Cosmeceutical Brand. The plant and peptide-based formula goes on with a mascara wand morning and evening. The goal is to mend the subtle but annoying patchiness of my natural brows, and to thicken and nourish the appearance of my eyelashes. Available at salons and online.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Clean Up Your Act and Blush Right

The Cleanser
Fizzy Clean Face
I recently had a nasty episode of red, swollen facial skin after getting a little too enthusiastic with eucalyptus oil to solve a spot.

While I'm relegating the eucalyptus oil to cleaning my bathroom, I AM all for using savvy natural ingredients for skin treatments where it's safe, effective and delivered by a credible brand. Hence, my new addiction to Biore Baking Soda cleansing scrub and pore cleanser. This is perfect for acne-
prone and oily skin and also for your everyday combination skin (sometimes a bit dry, sometimes a bit oily, sometimes just right!) Dermatologist Tested. Just pump product into your hand, mix with water and voila! Instant skin scrub. Another bonus?

Super affordable. You will have extra dollars left over for makeup. Of course.
Biore Baking Soda Range
The Mask
Salon Quality At Home

Mesoestetic is one of the international leaders in medical-cosmetic companies making salon-grade skincare based on research and potent formulae.
They work with hospitals, universities and cosmetic and dermatology specialists on treatments to target acne, pigmentation, dryness, sensitivity and also for anti-ageing.

I'm new to the brand but I have been using the Pure Renewing Mask (because who doesn't love a mask in the morning or at the end of the day?)
I was fortunate enough to try the mask before it's launch in Australian stores and salons, but it will be available through select stockists.
Find an in-store or online stockist.
The Base

You're fizzy, just-been-to-the-salon clean and clear. You've got the blush ready to sweep on, but here's the vital step. Get your base right. You want a non-comedogenic formula (doesn't clog pores) that closely matches your natural skin shade. Don't test on your hand, test on your face.

I rotate the foundations I use because there are new products all the time and also, sometimes I am more tanned than the day before and need something a shade darker or lighter as necessary. As for my latest loves, both of them are budget friendly AND skin friendly. Australis Oh2Glow gives a luminous finish that won't suit oily skin, but great for the majority and Maybelline Superstay Better Skin.
The Blush
Pretty and poised never go out of fashion when it comes to makeup. Whether it's some serious contouring or just a gentle "I just ran for the tram" flush or "I woke up like this" glow, every skin shade has a perfect pink.

La Femme Flamingo Pink
La Femme is a new brand for me - it's cruelty free, it does every possible shade of pink you could dream of, and it's beautifully packaged.  As a general rule, which you are very free to break, the paler your skin shade, the paler the colour you want to opt for with your blush.
I'm a big fan of Flamingo Pink - it's richly pigmented but applied with a light hand (as it SHOULD be), it's subtle and looks gorgeously natural.
Lilac Champagne and Mulberry are a little more blue-based and will suit those with a cooler complexion. That said, they are also really flattering on olive skin.
The entire range of La Femme colours is at makeup mecca Scotty's - either at the Melbourne or Sydney stores, or online.
Scotty's Makeup Store

Where do I apply it? How?
Good question. Suck your cheeks in and make a fish face. The bronzer goes in the hollow from the outer face to mid cheek. Apply your blush, lightly, with a fluffy, pre-cleaned brush to the higher point of your cheek, from the outer edge of the eye to the hairline. You don't want to leave any lines so blend, blend, blend.
If more is more, and some days it really is, then add some highlighter. You can sweep your blush brush through a highlighter en route from blush to cheek for some shimmer and glow. Especially recommended on evening outings to catch the (disco) light.
Totally love the W3LL People Bio Brightener (vegan, cruelty free) from Nourished Life.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Skincare: Cleansing, Vitamins and Probiotics for Clear Radiant Skin

When it comes to the skin, it's important to remember this is the largest organ of the body. Like all our other organs, it is highly reactive and responsive to what we eat, our level of activity, stress levels and sleep quality.

I've written before on the benefits of probiotics for your digestion.
Not only do they improve vitamin and mineral absorption, they can be beneficial during and after antibiotic use to restore balance to the gut bacteria and also to support immune function during stressful periods.

Good digestion and good immune function are also vital to radiant, healthy skin. 

You don't need to take probiotic supplements as a first call, but I find they're the most convenient option for me. If your diet naturally has fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, kombucha and yoghurt (not the nasty diet and fat free options!) then you're on the right track.

Here's the foods you want and the skincare I'm using and that I swear by. Yes, it will cost a bit more than your supermarket shelf option, but it has higher concentration and high quality ingredients. You can afford to spend a little more on cleansers and specialist serums and go for cheaper moisturisers - but check that your moisturiser is non-comedogenic (doesn't block pores and cause blackheads).

Alpha H is beloved in the beauty therapy world. For good reason. Their Vitamin C serum is a staple in my bathroom cabinet and while this is my first time using the Triple Action Cleanser, it leaves my skin feeling fresh, without the harshness of some deep cleansers. No prune face post washing! Find it at Facial Co.

Danne Montague-King is also a salon brand. High quality, high potency products and I have been using them for years with great results. I am new to these ones and I am loving them. The Exoderma and Foamy Lift are used together for an enzyme peel. It's not vicious - you won't be left with peeling and redness, don't fear. It's a gentle peel for at-home use.
The Beta Gel is packed with Vitamin B and C for acne and blemish prone skin. I use it when my skin decides to have a spotty turn - it usually happens when I get stressed or underslept. Or both.
DMK is only available at skin clinics - find your closest one on the DMK Clinic Locator. And book a facial - because life is short and facials are awesome.
Skinceuticals were recommended to me by a cosmetic skin specialist AND several beauty therapists. It is highly rated in the skincare and beauty world for good reason - I am a dedicated Vitamin C devotee and if you haven't used Skinceuticals, you really must. I have been using medik8 Retinol 10TR, which is high strength and my skin needs a bit of a break and a reboost so in the few days between applying retinol, I'm applying daily Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. Find both Skinceuticals AND medik8 at Skincare Store.

Foods:

Miso, Kefir, Soft cheeses, Yoghurt, Milk with Probiotics, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Tempeh

Supplements:
Inner Health Plus available at Ethical Nutrients



Wednesday, 23 March 2016

All New Les Mills Classes Launch in Australia

What would it take to drag me back into a cycle room? The promise of a totally new world. 

Literally.

So Les Mills' The Trip has more than delivered. This is the future of cycling - pedalling through planetary landscapes, high over the cities of London and New York where you can peer down and see the laneways, feel the nerves of being on a bridge, veering around a tight corner...

Melbourne is about to experience The Trip 4 at the Melbourne Convention Centre for Filex 2016. This is set in a planetary wonderland. You'll be pedalling hard to Major Lazer, Hudson Mohawke and A Tribe Called Quest to name a few.

As you'll discover in my interview with Matt Spandow from Les Mills Asia Pacific, the technology behind The Trip isn't cheap and it's likely to be offered at premium clubs as a beginning point. BUT. There's another Les Mills offering and it comes at you with a different proposition.

Sprint is a 30-minute (short, sharp!) HIIT workout that is scientifically tested and developed in collaboration with Penn State University to ensure the intervals are timed EXACTLY to maximise EPOC (your post-exercise calorie burn). All this set to bass-heavy beats, choreographed to align perfectly with the intervals. This has already been launched in Australia - if your gym doesn't have it but they do have Les Mills, ask about it. 

See the videos, read more about The Trip.

Meet Matt Spandow, Les Mills Asia Pacific Marketing & Sales Director. Here's what he shared with me about Sprint and The Trip.

Sprint and The Trip are both new products. We know the international trend for HIIT and previously we’ve hit that segment with GRIT. Cycling studios are sitting empty half the time. We worked with Penn State University to create the science behind a HIIT 30 minute class, and the science and the results of the EPOC burn, people get around a 900 calorie burn throughout the rest of the day.
It is recommended you do HIIT workouts twice a week to avoid diminishing results. Ideally, Sprint is designed to be done twice a week. This is the same for any HIIT workout – including GRIT.

The Trip is immersive fitness. There’s never been one showcased in Australia before. Multiple projectors and screens are involved and the instructor takes you through virtual worlds and it’s so realistic, it feels like you’re moving. The instructor faces away from you as if you’re riding in a peloton.
It’s amazing how people become immersed in that world. This is just normal interval training, not HIIT. It’s normally about 45 minutes.

One of the problems we see in these spaces is that there’s only RPM on the timetable. There’s all this space and a lack of great programming so that’s where these two new programs meet the new global trends: HIIT and the interaction with technology. People want to work out short, sharp and get bang for their buck. With The Trip, it’s about really using principles of gaming with fitness science.

The hormonal and EPOC levels have to be timed to the exact intervals. Because we use choreography and music as well as the Penn State science, we’ve brought that into Sprint and GRIT.

The Trip really attracts a lot of people who have never done cycling before. It’s more about people wanting to experience the virtual world. Our company mission is to create a fitter planet. It doesn’t help if we bring out a program for people that are already there.  We want people to say this looks cool, it looks like a lot of fun so they come in to try it.

The Trip is so new it has never been seen in Australia before so we’ll be debuting it at FILEX. Whether clubs decide to charge in clubs or not is up to them. Our recommendation is to use it to attract new members, but we wouldn’t recommend charging extra. With Sprint, you’ll find people [instructors] just need to do the training, but there’s no extra equipment needed.

Not every gym can afford the technology fee for The Trip. For now, I’d imagine you’d see it in more affluent clubs. Your bigger chains, it would make sense for a couple of these to take it on. Premium clubs are more likely to invest in the technology and some chains will decide to put it on in their centrally located clubs where members are willing to travel for the experience.

Training [for instructors] in Australia will be available as soon as clubs decide they want to go with it. It will be different as we’ll actually do site-specific training. Sprint training is available across the country right now.

The instructor creates a whole experience by narrating the training.
A couple of studios in Hong Kong, London, Santa Monica, Stockholm and Newmarket, NZ have The Trip operating right now. All the content and testing has been centrally developed in New Zealand. To create this 3D virtual world, a lot of work has gone in.
The Trip One is the very first one we did recreates TRON – like the digital world of the movie.
I did The Trip Four in Hong Kong and it was virtual cities. The screen wrapped 270 degrees and we could look down through landscapes like New York and Tokyo, London and city to city.

The one we’re showcasing in Melbourne, you go through planets for about five or six planets. I haven’t heard the music, only seen the visuals so far. I imagine a lot of it will be generated by our studio in New Zealand, and they’re driven by heavy beats just like GRIT.  Music is designed to take people on a journey, to bring heart rates up and down. Chris Richardson in New Zealand listens to something like 3000 songs a quarter for one release to select the right music. There’s no rules, so if they want a track, we go out there and we purchase those.

Read more about The Trip and Les Mills Immersive Fitness.

Members of the public can attend Sprint classes at Melbourne Convention Centre during FILEX.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Epic Barre & Ballet Sculpt Moves

I recently gave my advice on the best barre moves to master - and the ones most often cheated in! Wellineux published a home workout guide and combined it with an XTend Barre giveaway. You can find the article on the Wellineux Blog.
Here are the moves and the reasons to do them. Don't belly flop.

Challenging and most importantly effective, these three moves are effective in developing body awareness, good core strength, muscular endurance, timing and postural alignment.
No belly flopping during the diamond push up! No dropping the hips while doing the bridge! Rather than cheat, you could try to make the moves smaller, or reduce the number of reps. Focus on perfect form if you are aiming for results.
The Diamond Push Up.Works: Triceps, shoulders, chest
Here’s how:
  1. From a kneeling position, make a triangle shape between your index fingers and thumbs. Place your hands, in this position, below the chest in a push up position. Engage the core muscles as you would in a plank hold.
  2. Try to maintain your head, neck and spine in alignment rather than dropping your head or straining your chin forward. Lower your chest towards your hands without letting the back arch and the belly slap the mat. This is belly flopping – don’t!
  3. Press hard into the palm of the hands as you raise back to your starting position, fully extending the arms. Repeat. As many as you can.
The Bridge with Heel CarveWorks: Hamstrings, glutes
Here’s how:
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Ensure your feet are hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down by your sides.
  2. Tighten and engage your glutes then lift your hips up, feeling your abdominals also bracing gently to stabilise and support your spine.
  3. Keeping your hips lifted, extend your left heel along the mat as far as you can, then imagine carving the floor open with your heel as you drag it back. The foot is flexed to really target the hamstrings. Repeat with the right leg.
  4. Repeat until you need to rest, then gently roll down from the top of the spine until you’re back at the starting position.
The Lying Leg LiftWorks: Quadriceps, Abdominals
Here’s how:
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down, by your side.
  2. Extend your left leg to straight, flexing the foot as hard as you can. This is to engage the VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle – the quadricep muscle responsible for stabilising your kneecap. Turn the leg out to the side so that you have a slight external rotation.
  3. Make sure you are engaging the abdominals to avoid your back arching as you raise and lower the leg. You should feel this right through the front and sides of the tummy!
  4. Maintaining your foot in flexion and leg perfectly straight, raise the leg straight up – hold for a second – then lower your leg until it hovers just over the mat. Do this 10 – 20 times.
  5. Repeat this on the right side.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook Allergen Free Treats

Another afternoon, another 3.30pm "WHERE ARE THE TREATS" dilemma.

Never fear. I bring treats with nutritional credit so you can feel satisfied AND highly self-righteous. And who doesn't need a bit of that during the mid-afternoon crawl to the finish line?
Coming to you from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott (Murdoch Books) - I know, it sounds very Pete Evans, hipster Crossfit what-have-you, but once you get beyond the title, the recipes are fabulous. Everything from salad to post-workout snack to dinner for 10.

Here's two of the fabulous finds - my favourites. I hope you love them and share them. I highly recommend popping the fig balls in a tupperware container and keeping in the fridge at work. They also make for some very happy post-school snack time and school fete fare.

FIG ENERGY BITES

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 Bites
Tools: Food Processor

370 g unsulphured dried figs
130 g fine shredded coconut, divided (unsweetened)
80 ml coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

1 Place the figs, 100 g of the coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse on and off until a thick paste forms (you may have to stop and scrape the sides of your food processor a couple of times).

2  Form into 2.5 cm balls, then roll them in the reserved 30 g of shredded coconut.

3  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the coconut oil set.

Note: Feel free to play around with the dried fruit in this recipe-—dates, dried apples and apricots are all good substitutions for the figs.

Storage: Keeps for a week or two stored in the refrigerator. Also freezes well.

SEARED BROCCOLINI WITH COCONUT BASIL PESTO


Time: 30 Minutes
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons solid cooking fat
450 g broccolini, washed, ends of stems removed
4 cloves garlic, minced
250 ml Coconut-Basil Pesto (page 124)

1 Heat the cooking fat in a large frying pan on high heat. When the fat has melted and the pan is hot, sear the broccolini for a couple of minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and let cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the broccolini is tender.

2 Serve with coconut pesto drizzled over the top.

Storage: Keeps well in the refrigerator.


coconut-Basil Pesto

Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: 375 mls

125 ml coconut water or filtered water
100 g fresh basil leaves
60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
4 cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
A few sprigs of fresh mint

1 Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides if needed. If you want a smoother pesto, continue to blend until desired consistency is reached.

Variation: Use apple cider or coconut vinegars and add sea salt to taste, as those vinegars are not as salty as the plum.

Storage: Keeps for a couple of days, sealed, in the refrigerator.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Retinol: blitz lines, blemishes and pigmentation

As I've told you a zillion times, I had terrible acne in my early teens and was on prescription Accutane (retinol or vitamin A) supplements to treat it. It worked. I have been absolutely strict about using skincare that genuinely works - without being aggressive and leaving skin damaged - ever since.
Many retinol products - or even products SAYING they have retinol in them! - are either really harsh and will leave the skin red, peeling or even dry and scaly, OR they have such a low concentration or ineffective formulation that you won't see any results at all.
Within weeks of use, you should notice that the skin has:

  • a smoother texture, 
  • definitely less blemishes; and 
  • softer lines. 
I have tried so many products and there are a few I would recommend. One is prescription and the others are available via salons and online.
Medik8 does an excellent range of retinol serums and balms. This brand comes with dermatologist, beautician and clinician recommendation. I recommend that you start with Retinol 3TR (0.3%) or 6TR if you don't regularly use retinol already. At the moment, I'm using Medik8 Retinol 10TR. This will be available via Skincare Store later this month in serum form, but you can still get the 10TR balm form. This is the HIGHEST STRENGTH vitamin A. In time-release formula, it hasn't aggravated my skin and I'm pretty sensitive so I'm actually surprised (and very happy.)

I see Dr Sara Mullen at the Victorian Cosmetic Institute every 6 months for a sprinkling of botox to the forehead and on my last visit, I asked if she would be interrogated on the benefits of retinol. Thankfully, she found time between being in heavy demand at work and doing the soccer run with the kids.

Why use retinol?
Topical retinoids, derivatives of  Vitamin A, were first used in patients who were being treated for acne. These patients reported smoother skin and less wrinkles after treatment, as well as having fewer blemishes. A study followed that showed patients who used topical retinoids demonstrated improvement in sunlight-induced epidermal atrophy (skin thinning), dysplasia (abnormal skin changes), and pigmentation. Overall, topical retinoids play a key role in reducing sun damage, preventing and reducing wrinkles and controlling acne.

Retinoids work by increasing the natural turnover rate of the skin. Therefore there are less dead skin cells at the surface of the skin and less blockages as a result. This property of retinoids also means that skin texture and fine wrinkles also improve.

What age would you recommend starting?
Early 30s

What strength retinol is appropriate?
4% retinol is ideal but patients may need time to work up to this dose.

How often should you use it?
Starting slowly is important to reduce side effects.  It is recommended that it be used only twice a week in the first 2 weeks, then alternative nights for the next 2 weeks, then every night. Sunscreen is also imperative with the use of retinoids as they can initially increase sun sensitivity.

Is flaking, peeling and redness a sign of a problem?
The downside of retinoids is the possibility of causing a response known as retinoic dermatitis. Skin can appear red, flaky, lumpy, and irritated for up to one month after commencement of retinoids. If redness and irritation occurs, frequency should be reduced. Some patients cannot use retinoids every night. Dryness or flakiness alone is OK and will settle within 2 months so patients should persevere.

How long do you need to use retinol products before you see a difference?
You can start to see a difference in the skin as early as 3 months of use.

What conditions would prevent someone from safely using retinol?
Retinoids should not be used in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, or those planning to be pregnant. Also patients with a history of facial eczema or moderate to severe rosacea due to the higher risk of irritation.

Friday, 26 February 2016

How Much Cardio Should I Do and What Type?

With any workout, it depends on what your goals are and where you're at now. It also depends on how much time you are willing to commit to it and what resources you have.

I am breaking my own rules about not doing boring workouts by engaging in steady state cardio that is both a mental and physical grind to get through. Habit.

High intensity interval training wins my vote for all-round strength, cardio and efficiency in a workout. It's short, it's intense and it keeps you focused. With a trainer who is dedicated to your safety and fitness, it's also a great way to pick up technique and ideas for your own workouts. This requires no equipment usually - body weight cardio and strength are very effective when done properly. Classes that are based on this method include CrossFit, F45, Tabata and HIIT.
Try CrossFit Collingwood, F45 Training in Victoria, or talk to a personal trainer about designing one particularly to meet your training goals.

Circuit style training is a similar idea to HIIT, only you don't need to do the short bursts of really intense activity to such a strict time limit. That said, using your phone to time yourself in each activity or even designing your workout playlist around your circuit plan is perfect. I used to spend longer making my running playlist than I did actually running! Carl Cox got me through a lot of endurance distances. What might a circuit look like?
Cardio: Treadmill warmup 10 minutes
Strength: Wide stance push ups for chest; deadlifts and rows with a barbell or dumbells; clean and press
Cardio: Running up and down staircase for 2 minutes
Strength: Plie squats, plank hold (try the medicine ball plank pictured if you're up for a challenge!)
Cardio: Rowing machine or bike for 20 minutes
Try BodyPump, Barre Circuit or any type of hybrid class. My latest Fitness Network article is all about interesting and effective hybrid classes!

Whether your goal is weight loss, cardio fitness or building strength and definition, circuit style training and getting your heart rate up while combining cardio and strength work is going to meet your goals. It is the intensity and duration that you will need to tailor to your needs. Speak to a trainer with experience in working with clients that have similar goals to you.

Beware of overdoing it. Been there, done that. If you end up hating and dreading your workouts, and you're punishing and pushing your body, you will not only end up with injuries but even worse, a feeling of misery, exhaustion and failure. Work with a trainer who recognises your goals and provides realistic guidance and motivation. If you need help with diet and wellbeing, see a dietitian and/or a psychologist with experience working with sportspeople or others with your particular goals and health background.
There are free fact sheets and a list of accredited Sports Dietitians at SDA Australia.

Monday, 15 February 2016

February Skincare, Beauty, Activewear and Fitness News

As you know, I'm Miss Fussypants when it comes to skincare, makeup and activewear.
If it doesn't do what it says it will do, it's out! Plus my skin is prone to breakouts if I use skincare or makeup that blocks my pores or has nasties in it. 
I have been using some serious clinical strength toner and whitening serum (take THAT, pigmentation!) from Medik8 so I'm balancing it out with a milky, gentle cleanser from Embryolisse ($35 at Scotty's Makeup). I'm also using the Lait-Creme Concentre overnight ($20 at Scotty's Makeup), layered over the pore refining toner ($39 at Medik8).
The Pore Refining Toner is alcohol free and while the witch hazel cleanses and attacks blackheads and other pore clogging yuckies, the aloe vera softens and soothes. If you leave it right next to your cleanser, you won't forget to use it morning and evening. 
When it comes to makeup, I have used everything from supermarket brands through to mega labels but it's important to note that Maybelline and Lancome are both owned by L'Oreal so there will be an equally uniform approach to quality makeup with both brands. For that reason, I have used Lancome foundation and actually PREFER Maybelline! It lasts through yoga, working out, the ever changing Melbourne climate AND I don't break out or dry out. My pick is the Dream Mousse Liquid ($22.95 at Priceline).


What's new and noteworthy in lips? Burt's Bees have always done kickass lip balms but now they've branched into lipstick. Joy! The packaging is reason alone to Add to Cart. The lid is like a little block of super chic honeycomb. Cruelty free and natural, of course. Stay tuned to their page for availability.


I've mentioned Australis Velourlips before. Matte liquid lip paints are my passion. I mean, yoga and dance, literature and travel and yoga pants of COURSE, but closely followed by lip paint. I was a teenager in the 90s, so perhaps that explains my deep love of matte lips. I just hate the gloss and goo of some lip products. I want my lip colour to last from the moment I apply it through to when I WANT to remove it! So it must last through me talking, sweating, drinking coffee and sweating, and talking. Velourlips ($10.49 at Priceline) is a cult product and it's so cheap, you can indulge in a few and either wear solo or try blending colours to customise.

As for concealers and foundations, what if I told you you could get PERFECT coverage without any blemishes and it would last through yoga, CrossFit, barre, pilates, running half a mile and even a sneaky post work coffee?
I have just discovered Mirenesse concealer and foundation. It's a cult brand amongst beauty and makeup professionals. Now I know why. I've been using the Ballet Pink CC Concealer. It's perfect for lightening under they eyes AND blemishes.
No wonder it's a hit at Sephora.
I'm also using their Velvet Maxi Lift Airbrush Line Treatment Foundation. It is going to make me eternally youthful and spot free while looking flawless. Sold!

Mirenesse lip liners are also my new obsession. Because long after your lipstick has transferred to the mid morning apple, your lip liner will be going strong. Because one is never enough, you can select from the duo of your choice. Mine is Forbidden Ink Natural Nudes.


As for activewear, SO much to wear, such a short life. Don't settle for less than "OM MY GOODNESS!" worthy pants, crops, tanks and sneakers. 
Onzie are the LA yoga crew who keep producing perfect fits, cuts, shapes and prints for yogis who want to look chic but also really need to be able to go from downward dog to peacock to eight-legged pose without hearing rrrriiiipppppp. These are yoga clothes made for yoga. The new Dreamer Collection is well named, because if you dream of yoga gear (guilty) this is exactly what you'd come up with. I am in love with the Candy Cloud print (pastel, feminine but fit). I also love Igloo. There's so much black, navy and grey happening in the gym. It's almost funereal. If you insist on needing dark pants, at least add some electric lights (Krypton leggings, pictured right).

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