Saturday, 26 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



Thursday, 24 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.


Wednesday, 23 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.

Tuesday, 15 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.

Tuesday, 8 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.

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