Thursday, 22 December 2016

TRENDING FOR 2017: Fit fashion, Body Piercing, Wellness Cafes, Travel Fit and Eat Superfoods

TRAVEL FIT

There's a big trend towards travelling for fitness and holistic wellbeing experiences. Did it kick off with Eat, Pray, Love? Who knows...but it continues apace and the offerings get more and more intriguing, exciting and sometimes, ridiculous, every year. The beautiful thing is that whether you're travelling with a group of friends, your partner or family or you're a solo traveller, you'll find events, customised itineraries and experiences that appeal to your need for learning, seeing, doing and being all over the world.

Look for the Angkor Empire Full and Half Marathon in August 2017 for a road race around the Angkor temples that has previously attracted between 500 and 1000 participants. There's a Marathon Half Marathon, 10km and 3km Family Run to choose from.

Alongside local offerings including the Canberra Yoga Festival (#Canberrasana !) and Byron Spirit Fest, there is also Wanderlust Festival offering yoga, wellness and lifestyle inspiration all over the world year-round. Try New Zealand in and Oahu, Hawaii in February for a start. See wanderlust.com/festivals The Byron Spirit Festival takes place in March 2017 offering tantra, dance, music and yoga.

Consider travelling to learn as well. Many people do their initial and ongoing Yoga Teacher Training overseas and this gives an excellent perspective on how yoga is a universal language. Perhaps you could do a language or cooking course also.
In Ubud, Bali (my favourite!) you can do Raw Food workshops and courses. You can even do your Raw Chef qualification if you schedule ahead. The school gets rave reviews on social media and Trip Advisor. Check out Raw Food Bali.
Find ways to travel and really immerse yourself in the local culture for the time you're there, whether it's a week or a year.


BODY PIERCING

Multi-ear piercing is still trending. Thanks to the celebrity and fashion editor's favourite body piercer, Maria Tash, the trend continues for chic and neat piercings that sparkle up the ear, in and around it. Her choice of jewellery, as well as her finesse in placing it to best highlight facial features, is highly refined and speaks to the trends of 2017. Spiked rings say "I'm a little bit punk rock" but delicate and in gold, they also say "I'm also a businesswoman, a blogger-author-globetrotting fashionista".
Melbourne's own Sammah Chehade is a piercing guru and has a particular eye for knowing which jewellery size, style and placement on the ear or face will best bring out their features. She advises according to facial structure, hair and skin tone and your style preferences. I have entrusted her with both needle and gun piercings (see my article Can I Work Out After A Piercing? )and she is divinely comforting, calm and radiates joy and passion for her work. She's available for consultations on multiple ear piercings, facial and body piercings. You can reach her via email or on Instagram.


ACTIVE WEAR AND FITNESS FASHION

There is a growing trend in consumers wanting to know the ethical credo of their fashion. This extends to athletic wear and fit fashion. Is it fair trade? Is the cotton sustainably farmed? Are the conditions for manufacturers and workers involved in production overseen and audited by an ethics and fairness body?

Expect, as far as colours and style, to see more wild patterns, bold colours and plenty of green and pink if the Pantone colour predictions for 2017 are a reliable guide (and they are relied upon by fashion and design industry internationally so I'd be buying stocks!)

In that spirit, brands like Onzie that are proudly LA made and owned still float my boat. Their designs, campaigns and ethos are all about loving yoga, loving movement, loving fashion and being a traveller of the world. See their instagram for international ambassadors and global "Take Me There" inspirations.
Canada-originated yoga brand Lululemon ALWAYS brings it's top game to design. Sure, it's not going to attract your budget bargain bin buyer but this is gear that goes the distance and it is designed for performance. It is not just for yoga either - the customer service staff are thoroughly trained so if you go in and talk to them about what you do for training and lifestyle, your preferences around style and colour, you can be pretty sure they'll know exactly where to direct you. They also have a fantastic initiative which is weekly community classes where teachers provide a class at no cost in-store. A great way for teachers to connect with their local community and also for people to trial a class without the commitment of studio or gym fees. Pictured is the new Energy Print bra and leggings. Add to cart.


RAW FOOD, VEGAN DIET, SEAWEED & TURMERIC

The rise of "vegan" as a key Search Engine Optimisation term will continue apace. Cassie Cross from Unique Health Products confirms "Australia's packaged vegan food market is set to grow over $60 million in value to reach $215 million by 2020. In fact, "vegan" is googled more in Australia than anywhere else in the world." Still, I am not vegan and while I think it has a very strong ethical basis, I fear that people are adopting a dietary approach that cuts entire food groups in the misguided belief that cutting entire these is a weight loss method that works longer than a week. The vegan approach to a diet rich in legumes, soy and plant proteins, grains and vegetables will hopefully inspire people in their approach rather than dictate it. While there are many foods which increase in nutritional value when heated (tomatoes, for example), I believe that raw, unprocessed and organic foods have a high "prana" value and this elevates my spirit when I'm preparing, sharing and eating my food. What's that mean, you ask? Prana is the "life force". Think about it. That gorgeous, ripe, organic kiwi fruit and big bowl of raw, organic walnuts are now sitting in front of you because they came from a seed, got rained on, absorbed sunshine and minerals and vitamins from the earth, and they were nurtured into ripeness right up until the moment that you picked them (even if i was out of a box at the market!). They have a story, an energy to them that fuels your body and your soul. As often as possible, try to eat raw, unprocessed foods daily. This might be a handful of almonds, or a bowl of cherries, or a fresh, green salad. As often as possible, grow your own herbs, veggies and fruit and go to local markets and organic grocers. Find a connection with your food.
"Seaweed is predicted to be the next big superfood," explains Cassie Cross. "It's full of vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties."
The Whole Foodies is a locally based provider of good, nourishing foods including oils, nut spreads and a whole range of seaweed based products. Their site is an excellent source of recipes too.Check out The Whole Foodies.
I'm a total kelp noodle addict. Get on board that train STAT!

Turmeric shows no sign of abating as the herb du jour. This is as it should be - it is excellent as an immune booster, makes a sunshine coloured latte, and acts as a powerful flavour for rice, roast vegetables, curries and soups.

If you're at a total loss as to how to prepare meals beyond a poached egg and a pack of noodles, try a cooking school. Many local markets run workshops and on-site cooking schools by chefs and nutritionists now. A google search for "raw food" or "healthy food workshops" in your city should give you an idea of what's happening. You could also consider travelling to do a course overseas.


WELLNESS CENTRES

In Ubud, the divine Yoga Barn (loved by yogis and travellers worldwide) incorporates yoga studios, ayurvedic health practitioners, a restaurant, juice bar, dance space and overnight accommodation options all in the one mega-space. It does so in a beautifully integrated way that doesn't feel like you are trekking between one separate business and the next. This is an entire lifestyle offering in the once place. Just as health practitioners have become savvy and many doctors combine forces within one medical practice, so it will keep serving wellness businesses and individuals to combine forces and create easily accessible places that are holistic in nature. Myotherapy followed by pilates, shopping for  organic coffee and a pair of locally made yoga pants should be all happening under one roof. Will existing stores merge with local wellness practitioners and cafe owners/juice bars to run pop-ups before taking the leap? Let's hope so. I'd love to be able to do a Community Class at Lululemon and then sit around in a dedicated cafe space drinking juice and talking to the local fashionista yogis!



Monday, 12 December 2016

Gut Microbiota And Your Health


I recently had the opportunity to interview Professor Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology at the University of New South Wales. She and her colleagues are involved in some extremely relevant and fascinating research into the role of the gut bacteria in regulating weight, mood, overall health and how this research might apply to treating obesity and major illness and disease. While there is still much to be discovered and investigated, there is also much to be excited about.
Essentially, if you are eating a balanced, healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, unprocessed foods including plenty of veggies and fruit (organic is ideal!) and meats, fish, tofu, soy and legumes then you're setting up your guts and your body for optimum fitness, stable energy and mood and an overall more happy, healthy life.
The good news is - though it takes time for change to show definite, measurable results in regards to weight, mood and wellbeing, it doesn't matter how old you are, how active you currently are or how often you dine on Krispy Kremes at this point. You can make small changes from today and see results over time and you can change your guts, you can change your whole life for the better.

My interview with Margaret is a podcast on iTunes or free stream on Soundcloud.

Cat:  For those new to the term, what is the gut microbiota?

The term refers to the suite of organisms that reside inside our gastrointestinal tract (gut).  There are many bacteria in our intestine and colon, that number in the trillions.  In fact the number of bacteria outnumber the number of cells in our  body!

Bacteria is usually a word associated with germs and dirtiness. Can you explain the role of bacteria in the gut and why the term “bacteria” is not referring only to the “bad” bacteria?

The bacteria in our gut perform a wide range of functions, and in fact, they are required for a healthy gut. Some of the functions include- They are harvesting nutrients from food; vitamin production; maintaining a healthy lining of the inside gut wall; healthy immune function.

How long have you been working in the field of gut microbiota and its role in health?

I have been working on obesity for 20 years, focusing on how the brain regulates appetite (and what goes wrong in the face of unlimited palatable food) and more recently began to examine the changes in gut microbiota profile  across a range of  interesting experimental models  that we have – so about 4 years.

What are the most exciting studies you’ve been involved with lately and what do they show us about lifestyle choices affecting gut microbiota and overall health?

We are very excited by our research in animals into the link between cafeteria diet induced changes in memory, and the effect on the gut microbiota.  Consumption of an unhealthy diet (e.g. high in saturated fat, high sucrose, low in fibre) is associated with less diversity in the bacteria in the gut - so-called ‘dysbiosis’ -  and we found that the reduction in cognitive function was linked to changes in certain types of bacteria.  This means that in the future, we may be able to introduce the missing bacteria to improve cognition.

What role does the gut bacteria play in regulating mood and could studies lead to better treatment of depression, psychiatric illness and sleep problems such as insomnia and apnoea? Could these studies also mean that there will be preventative approaches & holistic non-pharmacological interventions provided by the educational, government and healthcare industries in future?

Evidence suggest that the composition of the gut microbiota is altered in people  with mood disorders  (although the issue of causality arises here).  In terms of using knowledge about the gut microbiota to more effectively treat certain disorders, there is a precedent for this with some serious infections of the gut. I can refer your listeners to our piece in The Conversation.

Other work of Pedersen et al, Nature 2016 has shown that the microbiota may  be very relevant to insulin sensitivity, leading to the conclusion that ‘Our findings suggest that microbial targets may have the potential to diminish insulin resistance and reduce the incidence of common metabolic and cardiovascular disorders', so  I think there will be future developments in this space.

How is the medical and health industry (private and public) as well as government responding to your studies and conclusions around dietary, behavioural and lifestyle choices in overall health of children and adults?

No formal responses from government -  but interest from the scientific community.  And we have funding to continue  some of this work.

Can you explain the link between the intestinal function and cognition and memory? What does this say about memory, learning and how it is related to diet?

There are a range of studies demonstrating a link between a healthy diet and memory and learning.  Many of these are observational -  they study a large number of people and look for associations between diet and brain function. Some studies have shown that various food patterns  are linked to poorer cognition,  or greater cognitive decline over time.  Clearly it is time-consuming and difficult to conduct this type of work -  and showing a cause-effect relationship is challenging.  However on balance, there does appear to be evidence for poor diet linking with poorer function, and possibly brain changes  (e.g. smaller hippocampus).

How does a high fibre diet affect the gut microbiota and what sort of foods are ideal to add or increase in the diet?

Diets that are rich in plant fibre are generally good for the gut microbiota.

Have studies into omega 3 (and healthy fats found in nuts, fish, avocado and seeds) shown to have a positive effect on hormones and the gut microbiota?

Yes, omega 3 in the diet can influence the makeup of the gut microbiota, so this may explain some of the benefits of  eating foods that are  rich in omega 3.  In humans there is evidence that low omega 3 is linked to increased risk of depression.
See ‘Role of Omega-3 fatty acids in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression: Current status and future directions’ Robert K. McNamara;  Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism 5 (2016) 96e10.

While highly processed carbohydrates such as those in white bread, donuts, chips and takeaway burgers are well known to be “unhealthy” choices, it is also unhealthy to cut whole food groups. As an active person, what carbohydrates are healthy choices for balancing the gut microbiota?

Generally complex carbohydrates that are unprocessed  are best – these include whole grains, oats and the like.  Refined sugars are less helpful. In fact, we observed changes in gut biota and impaired memory in animals that are eating a healthy diet,  but supplementing that with high sugar intake.
Of course, small amounts of refined sugar are probably ok and  it is important to enjoy food  and eating with friends…

Agreed that the importance of sharing meals and enjoying food is vital so the occasional donut or Tim Tams with the workmates should not be declined or denied!

What role does the timing of meals have in regulating gut microbiota and how can people use this to their advantage? For example, many people skip breakfast or eat smaller lunches to excuse late night snacking.

Not much know (I believe)  regarding impact of meal timing on the microbiota – it is an interesting question.

What current studies are under way and what do you hope to see as far as investment in this area from public and private government and health investors?

We have a range of studies underway -   for instance, we are interested in the effect of exercise on the gut microbiota (even in the face of an unhealthy diet)  as well as the impact of probiotics on gut microbiota and memory.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for Wellness, Fitness and Beauty Addicts

Who doesn't have that last minute panic of What On EARTH Do I Give Jane, Rosie, Steph...etc? Here's the simple, straightforward guide to what's out there that makes a great gift for the wellness oriented pals in your life.

Bobbi Brown Wine & Chocolate Nail & Palettes

It used to be very much that makeup and beauty and supplements were all about what you don't have, what you want to conceal, what you are deeply lacking and need to spend all your hard earned moolah on to ensure you are fulfilled.

In fact, many brands and media still push this idea.

Thankfully, there are some brands out there with a message that is really positive. Sure, they're still selling you things, but there is not that toxic message that you need this because you are inherently lacking and this is the answer.


The latest collection is Wine & Chocolate. Divine, of course! A full range of eyeshadows, lipsticks, blush and to-die-for nail hues in beige, crimson, grape, chocolate and ballet pink. I'm obsessed with nail polish in Chocolate and brightening blush in Pink Truffle.

Onzie Activewear

Made in LA by yoga devotees FOR yoga devotees. I have Onzie leggings and capris that I still wear daily after 5 years and they look exactly as they did when I first wore them. These aren't 3-wears-and-a-wash style activewear that quickly gets consigned to the donation bin. 
There's an all new collection just out for men and women - that's right! Onzie has a men's range and a children's range so you could dress your family, friends and workmates in matching outfits.

My hopes are entirely pinned on those leopard shaper leggings. A burgundy open back hoodie? I wouldn't say no, Santa.

philosophy Fragrance

Every year, philosophy releases limited edition Christmas bath and body goodies which are beautiful to look at and divine to smell. The tried and true longstanding favourite of mine and many others is amazing grace. The box features the philosophy behind the name and the fragrance and on opening, there's a little message: "believe in miracles".
I love being reminded of this each time I go to spritz it on and I do think to myself - be amazingly graceful!



House of Matcha tea

What an awesome discovery THIS has been! House of Matcha does high-grade matcha green tea. It is neon, kryponite coloured and the special set comes with a whisk, bowl and an easy-to-follow set of instructions for preparing your matcha. The preparation is key.
The limited edition gift set is the perfect present for the dedicated matcha lover or your friend, mother, daughter, husband who is all about wellness but hasn't discovered the deep joy of matcha green tea powder. I drink it as a tea and also use the powder as a seasoning for fish and vegetable dishes. I've also seen it used to flavour smoothies and chia seed pudding. Get creative! As they say, "800 years of Japanese practice and perfection" is pretty reliable.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fresh Fit Food: Which Meal Delivery Services I Recommend


I know how to cook, prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals.
I can also talk macronutrients, energy, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
In short, I'm not in the dark when it comes to food and how to look after myself. There are other reasons for using a meal delivery service.

Good Reasons To Use Meal Delivery:

  • Being caught up in a hectic, unpredictable time where shopping, planning meals and feeding yourself and your family or housemates just isn't possible (ie. new job, illness in the family)
  • Experiencing injury or illness that can sap you of energy and the physical ability to get out and about to shop and then to do the preparations also.
  • Feeling caught in a rut and eating the same meals over and over again
  • Struggling to find inspiration for new ideas at meal times and wanting a kick in the butt
  • Curiosity
Why I Use Meal Delivery

I am guilty of being caught in eating the same meals all the time because it's easy. I know exactly what I need to buy in advance, I know how long it takes me to prepare and I know I like it. Only, I get so bored and if I'm bored, so is my body! Variety - just as in the classes you do, the friends you have, the places you go - is fuel for the soul. The body also benefits in every way from a variety of flavours, nutrients and just the mental effect of discovering something different and inspiring.

Which Meal Delivery Service To Use

There's already some really great services that deliver around Australia, and there are new ones popping up every week. This is both fabulous and also overwhelming if you're not sure where to start or you've had a bad experience. 
I've used the following and I highly recommend them. None of them require contracts or an ongoing relationship. You can order a one-time-only delivery and never do so again if you want!




This is for the person too busy to shop but not completely inept in the kitchen. This is for people who enjoy the preparation factor, but don't want to walk through supermarket aisles for the sake of a few meals. The box arrived for me on Tuesday morning (delivered silently in the very early hours of morning!) and had each meal packaged in a separate large paper bag.

In the box, recipe cards that described the preparation of each meal including cooking and prep time. I was provided herbs, flavourings, raw ingredients and ultimately, I had to cook and prepare. The great thing about this is that I felt like I had control over the level of flavouring I could add, and I could be a little creative as far as presentation and making any little adjustments like changing the choice of herbs or adding different vegetables.

I heartily recommend the chicken and fish meals as well as the superb Superfoods Veggie Bowl. I did add extra protein to this one but if you didn't, it's ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

Marley Spoon




Kate Save is a clinical dietitian with a true passion for food and it shows in the delicious menu options she offers. She designs meals with a real focus on balanced amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and micronutrients to ensure hormonal balance, weight control and VERY importantly, flavour. From frittata to curries, chunky soups, chia pods, protein ball snacks through to vegetarian friendly tofu dinners, there is no skimping on quality and yumminess.

Kate has worked with eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, juveniles and adults in her clinical role of dietitian and it was this, combined with her genuine love for preparing healthful, flavourful foods, that acted as the catalyst to start her own business. She has raised her children on these same meals and it is imperative to her that they are well fed, nourished and loved. This comes across in the food that arrives on my doorstep. It is full of flavour, perfectly balanced for a fit and weight-conscious individual, and also full of love and soul. There is nothing dry and boring about Kate's meals and even though they are perfectly measured as far as macronutrients (safe for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight), there is nothing boring about Kate's menu.

You can put in an order as late as Sunday evening and be assured of delivery the following Tuesday - everything is prepared and delivered fresh and clearly labelled.

I totally recommend the chia puddings - in fact, I'd put in an order for these alone! - and the frittata with kale and chickpeas. Delicious. Definitely don't skip the Berry Bliss Chia Pudding and the Blueberry with Chia Seeds.
I also loved the South American Chilli Beef And Beans for lunch on the go.

Be Fit Food


My Muscle Chef was the very first meal delivery service I tried and it is not at all what I feared it might be: tiny portions of NASA-grade food for body sculptors who subsist on a couple of almonds and a lettuce leaf. THANKFULLY these are divinely tasty and the fact they are energy-controlled and designed with the ideal ratio of protein to carbs is an afterthought once you dig the fork in. The meals range from vegetarian through to kangaroo, fish, chicken and beef.
I'm a big fan of the kangaroo with brown rice. It's so easy to overcook and dry out kangaroo meat but this is perfectly prepared and delivered for maximum flavour and texture. I admit, the meals are not nearly as big as I need for dinner. As a lunch option, perfectly portioned. I add nuts, extra rice and loads of vegetables to the dinner portion and occasionally, extra protein depending on my appetite. They deliver weekly to Melbourne and Sydney.

My Muscle Chef

Other delivery services I recommend trying include Aussie Farmers Direct, Woolworths Online and Nourished Life for supplements and healthy meal preparation tools.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Be Truly Well and Truly Fit - Free Download

If you have decided - especially coming up to the end of one year and the beginning of another, that now is the time to overhaul your mindset and to embrace a life of being well and fit, I can't do it for you. But I can give you the tools to make it happen. 
I'll be creating some free workout guides in the coming weeks, but this is the ideal place to start. With reflection and setting your intention.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Scents for Your Studio, Your Body and Your Yoga Mat


Don't underestimate the power of the senses in affecting your daily life.

Sometimes it just takes a new soap or rose-scented facial cleanser to pep up the morning and start everything off right. Herewith, my favourite scents for my home, the studio environment, my yoga mat and my limbs.

Home & Studio

Living in an apartment, I have the luxury of knowing a candle or a diffuser will travel. This means, however, that if I pick the wrong scent, I'm stuck with it in every room. So! I am very careful. If you are in a studio environment, you don't want to be overwhelmed by scent nor offended. I find incense really makes me feel congested and claustrophobic and I have avoided going to yoga classes where I know the instructor will be burning it before and during class.
At home, I use MOR Neroli and Clementine diffuser. The beauty of this is that it takes no thought or maintenance. I just set up the diffuser initially and leave it. This is unlike candles where you need to light them and remember not to leave the house while they're still burning.
Neroli and Clementine is citrus fresh but subtle and just leaves a zesty, slightly Mediterranean fragrance lingering.

Body 

There's nothing worse than trying to get your weights workout on when the person next to you is either:
a) not wearing deodorant at all; or
b) wearing a powerful aftershave/perfume/anti-perspirant

Be authentic. Wear a fragrance that reflects your personality, your mood and your style but also be aware that you don't need to intoxicate the people around you. The gym or the yoga studio is not the place for Dior Poison, people.
I love The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Body Mist because it's fresh, it's subtle and it reminds me of beaches, fresh grapefruit juice, island time and has just enough sweetness to balance the citrus zing. Plus there's no nasty additives and it's ethically produced, you can be sure.



Yoga Mat 



Four Thieves is a combination of organic oils that are designed to not only purify and cleanse, but to uplift the senses and transport you. I use this to cleanse my mat before and after practicing and it has the beautiful, sage-based scent that reminds me of Bali and jungles, beaches, wild nature and beauty. Try Melbourne yoga teacher Amanda's blend - made locally for yogis! Four Thieves by Ananda Aromamist.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Basic Health Hacks


No matter how healthy, well, fit or fully spiritually evolved you are. there can always be little tips and ideas you haven't considered or that you ONCE practiced and forgot about. Without further ado, some basic health hacks you may already be aware of (applause for you!) and some extra ideas you can keep in your arsenal for Living 101.

Keep frozen veggies stocked up
This one is so simple. Mixed vegetables, diced up and ready for cooking. They bulk up any meal from simple steak and veggies to a hearty soup or stew. It's not always convenient to go shopping for fresh veggies and fruit when you're under time pressures. Fail safe!

Flavour with organic herbs and spices instead of chemical laden, sugar and MSG rich stuff
It can be easy to reach for those cheap bottles of "Thai" "Indian" "Moroccan" flavourings in the supermarket, but if you read the ingredients list, chances are they are full of sugar and random ingredients like "chicken flavour" (what IS that?!).
My favourite find is Australian made, ALL NATURAL, gluten free, no additives and preservatives Pinch Spices. The Hunter Valley Rub is delicious on meat dishes and the Spicy Caribbean Rub is amazing with eggs and veggies, pulses and rice based meals. And fish. And pretty much anything really. Yum.

Look for free gym trials and yoga/pilates/dance studio special offers

Try a Google search for local gyms and studios and if they don't list trial offers, don't be afraid to ask. Many studios and gyms understand that you don't want to sign up for a membership or even a month of visits unless you get a good feel for their offerings on the initial visit. 



Keep teabags in your handbag

Found yourself stuck in a meeting or the office for a deadline-based issue and stomach rumbling? Is your colleague offering you Instant Coffee as the only option? You will thank me for this! I take them on flights too. It's like a little bit of home you can indulge in anywhere. 

Stock up on long-life milk and  basics like tinned tuna and salmon, brown rice and quinoa
The best way to avoid indulging in the 2-minute noodles your flatmate has conveniently stocked up on in case of armageddon or even eating Cornflakes for dinner (guilty - but Special K, surely that's a TAD better?) is to ensure you have some basic staples that are adaptable. Since you've already got a cupboard full of Pinch Spices now, any rice and fish, or chickpea and quinoa meal is going to taste delish.
Coles does a range of 2-serve rice, quinoa options. These are genius for the pantry at home and at work. I swear by brown rice/quinoa combo. Zap it in the microwave (or don't, if you're me) and combine it with whatever pulses, veggies, proteins you love and voila! 

Use Facebook groups to buy, sell and swap fitness gear 

There's plenty of location and product/services based Facebook groups where you can buy, swap and sell. This is a convenient and affordable way to pick up new fitness gear, from DVDs and sneakers to leggings and fitness trackers, while also being able to swap or sell what you no longer use.

Learn how to create some basic, healthy meals so that you're confident to cook for yourself

This may be watching YouTube or it may be asking a friend or family member to share recipes and cooking tips with you. For some of us, boiling an egg is a complete mystery. If you're feeling a bit braver and want to make your cooking lesson a bit more of a social affair, see if your local market runs cooking courses. Some councils, food stores and natural health stores run classes too. As per any major life decision, Google is your friend. I love these zucchini fritters with smoked salmon and poached eggs.

Use a meal delivery service for a week to introduce new flavours and recipes to your palate

I can wholeheartedly attest to the quality and reliability of My Muscle Chef. I became addicted to the kangaroo-based meals but the basa fish fillets and chicken were also fabulous. They come in different sizes but all labelled and securely packaged in separate trays ready for the fridge. Pick your meals for a week or longer, and you can take some to work, keep some for home and know that you don't have to worry about shopping or preparing food if you're under enough pressure with work, family or personal issues. Also fabulous if you're injured or post surgery or just unwell. Everything is done for you! These are also ideal if you can't manage to get beyond the same old ritualistic meals - egg and lettuce roll from the cafeteria every day? Steak and potatoes every night? Change it up!

A new player is Marley Spoon. I'm about to give this a whirl as they are releasing a whole new super healthy range of meal options. Their current options look fab too though so go check it out. Never hurts to try something new.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Super Green Beauty Buys

There's a real explosion of brands new and old doing fabulous #greenbeauty products. What's this? Cruelty free, natural-based products that harness the power of plants, oils, environmentally friendly packaging and sustainably produced and manufactured ingredients.
These used to be ridiculously expensive products only available via luxury stores or, at the other end of the spectrum, packaged in ugly brown boxes at the local organic co-op. Thankfully, a rise in consumer demand for ethical, beautiful, luxurious and yet affordable beauty products means you have a treasure trove of Australian and international brands and products to opt for. I've tried, tested and truthfully recommend the following.

For cleansing, Sukin Purifying Gel Cleanser and the Super Greens Facial Scrub are divinely scented, gentle and under $15 each. In fact, the Super Greens is my favourite range (the face moisturiser is a must) and post workout shower time is 100% better with the Botanical Lime Coconut Body Wash. No sulphates and no parabens in any of these products!

Botani is a small, local operation that does beautifully packaged, scented skincare that is environmentally conscious, designed to nourish the skin and also the soul. I know that sounds hokey! I just breathe this in as I'm using it though, and I know it's one of a small batch, not created in some massive factory without heart. It's available at health food stores, Go Vita, Priceline and Great Earth. I especially adore the Acai Berry Active Antioxidant Serum (it's berry, berry good!) and the Boost Balancing Moisturiser for non greasy hydration.
Simple is available all over Australia and online. It's also super affordable for budget beauty babes. The name says it all really. Nothing but the basics and really, you don't want to settle in with a mug of tea and a blanket to have to read through the ingredients list of your skincare. I use their new Aqua-Lock Cleansing Facial Wipes for the post-workout, pre-shower period where you just don't want to get sweat and germs all over your iPhone. The Hydrating Cleansing Oil is ideal for when I've been overdoing the retinol and just need to use something really gentle and non violent.


J'adore this Swiss nail polish and nail care range. Sure, Mavala doesn't have the fancy, funny names like OPI, but it does have the most gorgeous mini nail polishes and if you are a creature who loves change and tends to only use nail polish 10 or so times before the next colour beckons, you won't need full sized lacquers. These are also 5 free, cruelty free and definitely get the Green Beauty prize for nail care. Fabulous range of colours too. Those Swiss beauty designers are way ahead of the game on knowing what the international fashionistas are going to want to opt for in regards to colours. From neutrals through to pastels, brights, gothic to glam, not a colour missing from the range. Love Alpine Green and Blue Curacao mini nail lacquers, and the lip liner in Innocent Pink for an everyday, subtle definition to the lips. I'm all about pencils.
The Body Shop is an international green beauty and wellbeing name that everyone knows. Begun by an entrepreneurial and ethically driven woman with a vision for beautiful products that emphasise sustainable ingredients, manufacturing, fairtrade and supporting farming communities. There is no doubting that vision carries through to this day and while all the classic fragrances and ranges are still going strong (Vanilla, White Musk, Vitamin C) it is some of the newer ranges that are truly exciting me! As a banana paddlepop devotee, the banana shampoo and conditioner is heaven for me. I am also all about a fresh, citrus scent and Pink Grapefruit body mist and the eau de parfum has the perfect balance of sweet and zingy. It can be worn alone or layer the body mist with something a little more herby like sage or jasmine based lotion or eau de parfum.

Avalon Organics does a great range of Vitamin C based skincare as well as their popular lavender range. I use the Vitamin C cleanser, Lavender scrub, Vitamin C Toner and moisturiser. No nasties, just simple formulas that are potent. There's a reason you will easily find Avalon Organics at health food and organic stores. People who care about what they put in and on their bodies are fans of this brand and have been for decades. Vegan, no false fragrances and no synthetics or parabens.

Burt's Bees does the basics with pizzazz, from moisturisers to hand creams, baby powder and lip balms to the new range of makeup that is gorgeously packaged in honeycomb inspired columns. I adore the beeswax based lip and face products. They are fabulously packaged, deliciously scented and sustainably, ethically produced and sourced. I adore the Baby Bee Skin Creme as an all-round balm (even nostril balm come hayfever season!) and any and all of the cleansers.

Eminence Organics is an award winning green beauty cult brand. I have been guilty of opening jars of blueberry and acai berry spiked serums and desperately wanting to eat them! The smell is so divinely pure and genuine, you could believe you were about to coat your face in strawberry puree. While it's not a budget buy, you absolutely get the quality you pay for. I adore Coconut Milk Cleanser (very gentle, very yummy) and the Sweet Red Rose Tonique (will make you want to get out and literally smell the roses!)
Certified organic, Australian beauty brand The Divine Company is a new player in the green beauty game. They hit David Jones stores in Australia only this month! I predict a riot, as some Britpop lads would say. Now, look, I'm as sceptical of marketing messages as any smart, savvy shopper, but in fact I really like what The Divine Company state on their website. They acknowledge that many beauty products and brands are entirely about the external appearance whereas beauty and self-care are much more about being elements of a holistic approach to wellbeing. I've been using The Miniature Series which is excellent, again, for the gym bag or for throwing in your carry-on bag when travelling. Try ACO Organic Certified Illuminating Day Cream and the Purifying Series (cleanser, toner, day cream).
As a pineapple and coconut scent addict, the whole (ALL AUSTRALIAN) bx Earth range totally appeals to me. Fortunately, it is super affordable (you'll find it at the local supermarket!) so you can afford to nab every scent combination. My tips? Desert Lime and Coconut hand wash and Pineapple and Coconut. It's like a G-rated mojito for your body!
Promising to "be friendly to your skin, and the environment" - I genuinely love the playful approach they have taken to product packaging, names and the level of care and consideration they've put into using quality ingredients and crafting the most appealing scents and formulations. Try You Scrub Up Well and Good Morning Sunshine (citrus fresh tangerine!)

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Melbourne Yoga Teachers

In the many years I've lived in Melbourne and been doing yoga - mostly around the inner, northern and eastern suburbs, I've had the great privilege of meeting and learning from a diverse and divine variety of Melbourne's finest yoga instructors.
Naturally, the teachers we are most drawn to is a subjective matter and this is not a "Best 10" or "Top Rated" style post. Instead, these are some of the teachers that have inspired me to think, study and appreciate yoga philosophy, culture and physical poses. I would recommend seeking them out and making time to do a class. If time and location doesn't permit that though, perhaps their recommended reading, clothing and cafes will encourage you to connect with them beyond the mat!

Name: Joel Hill

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: My favourite pose for as long as I can remember is Utthita Trikonasana, it always seems to hit the right spots.

Must Read Yoga Book: If I had to choose one book it would be Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar , I always find new inspiration from it and things I've previously missed, even twenty years after I first layed eyes on it.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: The Iyengars are always a source of inspiration as is my teacher Glenn Ceresoli. Their teaching inspires the way I approach my practice heavily. In the last eighteen months I have been following the American yoga teacher and Sanskrit scholar Christopher Tompkins work very closely. His scholarship has very much revitalised my interest in yoga philosophy and history, I highly recommend anyone interested in these areas to check out his online offerings.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: For me these days it's any cafe that is kid friendly, I'm very much out of the loop on this.

Currently Teaching at: Currently I'm taking classes at Gateway Osteopathy and Pilates in Eltham and am also teaching Anatomy for The Yoga Social YTT programs.

Name: Gena Kenny

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week : I’ll begin by sharing my favourite translation of ‘Asana’ which is “To find a comfortable seat within, so that no matter what is happening without, you can remain at peace in your home.”

Yoga for me is exactly that, it is finding ‘my seat’ within.  How I do that is different from day to day; some days it requires simple and mindful breath work, other days it requires more physical movement.  Over the years my work with the physical Asana has become more refined and more subtle.  I have moved into a very different practice that is not necessarily broad gross movement but instead has it’s very foundation in the more subtle realms.  I have found that through sustained and regular practice I have learned how to move into the stillness that is in between, inside and throughout all movement.    This movement into stillness helps me to deal with my day to day life interactions and circumstances with more grace and more ease.  So not a favourite yoga pose, but a favourite way to utilize yoga for a more graceful life.

Must Read Yoga Book :  Wow.. this is a difficult question for me to answer as I love so many different yoga books; some for the anatomical information, some for philosophical learning, others for delving more deeply into the ‘Self’.  So I’ll share one of each with you . J

Anatomical:
“Yoga Anatomy” by Leslie Kaminoff

Philosophical:
“Bringing Yoga to Life” by Donna Farhi

“Self-work”
“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer

 Teacher Who Inspires Me : I am most inspired by Donna Farhi, who has been teaching teacher’s for close to 30 years. I highly recommend any yoga teacher who has not either read Donna’s books or delved into her teachings with the Yoga Teacher intensive programs, teacher training courses or retreats that Donna runs.. to do so!!
What inspires me most about Donna is her embodiment of the practices that she shares.  She has ‘lived’ her practices and embodies them in how she teaches, lives and moves through the world.   I share a quote for you here from her book “Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit”.

“If you go deeply enough inside yourself, you will find not something small but something immensely spacious”.

I had read Donna’s books for many years, but hadn’t actually been to any of her teaching intensives until I suffered a debilitating back injury whilst working as a Firefighter in the Melbourne Fire Brigade.  At that point, I didn’t know if I could ever work as a firefighter again or even complete a yoga practice without pain ever again.  But through Donna’s in depth teachings on the structure, the nervous system and movement patterns, I am now pain free and teaching yoga for spinal care.

 Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne : My favourite new cafĂ© is in Albert Park and is called Zea Food Journey on Victoria Avenue (just next to Jocks Ice cream).  For those who know me, you will know that I have a sweet tooth and Zea meets that sweet tooth with a fusion between France and Greece. French style crepes with a Greek style yumminess packed inside!!  Plus they have amazing coffee and real love packed into whatever they do.

Currently Teaching at: I have my own yoga studio which is in Port Melbourne and is called Ohana Yoga.  “Ohana” is a Hawaiian word which is translated to mean ‘connections’ and that is what Ohana Yoga is about.  We  have an incredible community of students and teachers who get to know each other through classes, coffee/tea after class and different events that we offer; which include free talks on different subjects to share knowledge, insight and just simply those moments of being able to connect with others who are in the community.

We also offer a really fair teacher rate which is $10 to encourage teachers to take time for themselves and give back to themselves .. we all know that being of service can lead to the ‘sharing, caring’ people in our world sharing a bit too much, so we like to encourage teachers to give back to themselves through restorative and mindful practices.  I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity, inclination and energy to be able to create a studio that offers an enriching daily yoga practice, yoga teacher training’s and most importantly a space that is real community hub for those who have found us.

Name: Andrew Mournehis

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Savasana (Corpse pose) / Yoga Nidra.
In my eyes, THE MOST IMPORTANT ( yet often neglected) POSE in our yoga practice.
As my Ayurveda teacher and mentor would say... you WILL practice Savasana and yoga nidra for 5 mins every day for the rest of your life... the teaching has stuck!

Must Read Yoga Book: The Bhagavad Gita ... favourite translation by Stephen Mitchell. A must read for any yoga practitioner or teacher on learning how to live, love and serve.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Elena Brower... for her courage to face her shadows, live with integrity and congruence ..:and be willing to live a life of Forgiveness, Light, Love and Truth.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: Oooohhh, so many, but my current fave is Merri Cafe at Ceres ... beautiful community.


Currently Teaching at:

  • Pranahouse in Thornbury Mon and Wed mornings 930am-11am
  • Workshops and intensives from "Breathing space yoga" in Prahran
  • Teacher and facilitator for TT at Academy of Yoga Learning since 2003 
  • Retreats both nationally and internationally since 2003

Details at Divine Grace



Name: William Wong

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Handstand!!!

Must Read Yoga Book: Not specifically a yoga book but The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Claudia Whitney

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: Pana Chocolate or Raw Trader

Currently Teaching at: Power Living Fitzroy, Yoga 37, Virgin Active and Fitness First



Name: Amanda Pittard

Favorite Yoga Pose this Week: Natarajasana | Dancer Pose as it allows me to open up my body, clear my mind and breathe evenly so that I can unlock truly profound discoveries about myself, physically my flexibility and balance, energetically opens my sacral, solar plexus & heart chakra allowing me to find balance in the realm of sensuality, personal power and love & compassion, Spiritually allowing me to notice where I get unstuck, so I can release my samsara.

Must Read Yoga book: "Your Body, Your Yoga" by Bernie Clark

Teacher Who Inspires Me : Sarah Cresswell at Teacher & owner at KX Yoga Malvern. When I'm on my mat I love listening to her kind thoughts, mindful manner & positive reinforcements of how wonderful we all are & what we bring to ourselves each & every time we come to practice.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne : The Bakers Wife in Burke Road, Glen Iris, the menu is amazing & fresh.

Styles of Yoga I teach : Vinyasa Flow, Slow flow, Yin, Yin Yang, Kids & Teens

Currently teaching at : Endless Lifestyle Balwyn, KX Yoga Malvern (assisting) Goodlife Camberwell, ReCreation Malvern, South Pacific Chadstone, Swift Fitness (kids/teens), Genesis Caulfield, Firbank Grammar Brighton (kids), Prana House Thornbury. Will commence shortly at the Habitat Space Malvern & Daya Wellbeing Hawthorn.

Name: Tania Perry

My Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Humble Warrior. I named my business after this pose and tend to incorporate it into most of my classes. It reminds me to stay strong and grounded, to surrender and let go of that which no longer serves, with grace and humility. Humble Warrior symbolises for me the strength and beauty of yoga. It requires a balance of effort, ease and courage.

Must Read Yoga Book: The complete Guide to Yin Yoga by Bernie Clarke. I have always been a Yang Yogi, this book has taught me how to find stillness and to yield in my practice, to take time in transitions and to be more mindful. I am a convert to Yin Yoga. I always try to find a balance in life, and yin Yoga brings me closer to this. Yin makes me a better Yoga teacher. This a wholistic approach, nurtures the body and softens me both on and off the mat.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: There have been so many over the years, but any teacher who connects with me personally, gets to know my practice, offers adjustments, inspires me and makes me a better yogi. I love Nicky Hanley (AYA Prahran), for her free spirit and creative sequencing. For my own professional development I attend classes with Zoltan - Swami Gopal (Yoga in Daily Life/ Fitness First), he has an authentic, calm nature and his classes always challenge and inspire.

My go to cafe in Melbourne: Combi in Ormond Rd, Elwood. The best raw treats, tumeric lattes, organic, healthy....food to make you glow, from the inside out. The raw caramel slice (sugar free/vegan) is to die for!!

Currently teaching at Om Yoga Sth Yarra, Fitness First, Sth Pacific Gyms and Humble Warrior Yoga and Wellness.
I also teach Meditation, Pranyama  and Chair Yoga at Salts of the Earth Prahran.


Name: Jennifer Crescenzo

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Elephant Pose - it's a dynamic variation of a wide leg forward fold that involves keeping your legs strong and feet grounded while playfully twisting your trunk!

Must Read Yoga Book: Yoga: Fascia, Anatomy, and Movement by Joanne Avison

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Paul and Suzee Grilley - I have studied with them for nearly 8 years now and through the years they have changed the way I understand and experience my own body in movement and meditation.  Whether they are teaching functional anatomy or the Bhagavad Gita, Paul teaches with great precision, passion, and humor and Suzee's boundless curiosity about movement makes the asana practice both practical and playful .  I just returned from studying Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with them and when I arrived we hugged and then they immediately started quizzing me about my Olympic Lifting and how it was influencing my body and the way I'm teaching yoga.  The way they engage with their students makes for a really dynamic and creative training environment and I always leave their company feeling simultaneously grounded and charged!

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne:  I live and teach south side so locally I like Magic for coffee and Urban Projuice for healthy, nourishing food.

Currently Teaching at: For the past few years I've been writing and co-facilitating 200 Hour Hatha Yoga TT's at The Yoga Social and MOVE Yoga and developing and facilitating Yin Teacher Training in Australia and internationally.  I teach weekly Yin, Yin/Yang, and Flow classes at MOVE Yoga, Ohana Yoga, and Yoke Yoga.  And I'm about to rejoin the team at Yoga Flame at their new Windsor studio!  My schedule of classes and events is available at yoga.jencrescenzo.com



I'm 100% sure I'm still to meet many fantastic Melbourne yoga instructors. Come and let me know whose class you absolutely wouldn't miss on Core Integrity With Cat Facebook.



Beauty & Wellness October Obsessions

Who doesn't need stirrup barre pants, grippy ballet socks, one-piece leotards and flattering, high waisted capri pants in their life...