Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true?
There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three boxes:
Glowing Skin
Optimal Metabolic Function
Smooth Digestion

It takes time for these processes to heal and alter too, but the habits you start today are going to kick in within months (some of us will feel the effects within days!) and that's one year sooner than if you started next year. If, like me when I'm not being more careful about what ingredients and fitness work for me, you find yourself tired, easily bloated and feeling uninspired, here's my tried and tested methods.

detox digestion health

Detox Your Digestion

I believe in eating with nutritional balance at the core but ensuring that all your meals are foods you really love to eat and that there are no "bad" and "good" foods as long as you know how they make you feel and you're sure to get all the vitamins and minerals you need alongside your macronutrient balance over a week. If you happen to eat sponge cake for dinner now and again it really isn't a drama.
Consider why you make that choice and then when you eat a meal, feel energised and satiated, consider what you could do to make that a regular practice. Have equipment to make all your own juices, smoothies, shakes and condiments. I love Aussie made Froothie (1000W, no messing around here).Filling your pantry with the ingredients to make good meals, setting out a plan at the start of the week so you have everything you need at hand, reading books or magazines that inspire your food choices and exploring new flavours and combinations? I've been reading Paleo magazine for recipes - I am not paleo nor do I advocate any particular regime or take part in any! Their recipes are excellent though and they don't buy into the nutritional table of calories, protein, carbs etc that so many recipes do. It isn't necessary. Eat well, listen to your body and your appetite and get to know what satiates and what leaves you craving (ie. most diet foods and zero calorie beverages!) if you want a sustainably nourishing approach to food and life.
Daily, aim to get a decent serve of high quality protein (whether it's from food or a supplement) to ensure optimal muscle, bone, joint, skin, hair and organ function. I kick start most mornings with a vanilla protein smoothie and almond milk (I love the taste and I choose a high calcium one). Plus a good dose of coffee, black. Not only an energy kick pre-workout but also allows me to pretend to be Italian/French/ miscellaneously Euro.
To ensure you are getting the best out of your diet and that it is digested in such a way that the nutrients aren't wasted, supplement your diet with a probiotic. You may choose - like one friend - to take a big old spoonfull of kimchi daily, but I prefer a high quality pre/probiotic powder supplement. I add it to my protein shake in the morning.
My pantry is stocked with Nature's Sunshine supplements for preventing, treating and strengthening digestion and gut health. I'm as guilty as you are when it comes to overdoing it or allowing stress, poor sleep or jet lag to impact my food choices.
Try Bowel Calm, Activated Charcoal and Slippery Elm Powder. I also swear by Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother!) for the mega dose of protein, enzymes and the energising bitterness at the start of the day and after each meal. My pick is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


skincare quality cosmeceuticals

Use High Grade Cosmeceuticals Alongside Your Usual Skincare

I don't consume many chemicals - my food is majority wholefoods (unprocessed veggies, fruit, seafood, legumes, meat, nut milks) and organic wherever possible. But when it comes to skin, I'm a convert to cosmeceuticals. You can usually only get the best ones in salon and they cost more than your supermarket beauty buys, but they also work. As someone who prizes her skin after teenage years of acne and sunburn, I don't skimp. Totally recommend medik8 for retinol based resurfacing cream (my choice is Retinol 1 TR) and moisturisers (Hydrate 360 please). I'll also be adding the new Dark Circles eye cream to my bedside table... no need to look like I've been tossing and turning for 8 hours!
alpha h cat13gram

Alpha-H does an amazing copper/B vitamin serum that I apply every morning under my moisturiser and makeup.


lean protein health fitness

Maintain A High Quality Protein Intake Daily

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or happily carnivorous, you must select high quality proteins. This means choosing lean, organic salmon rather than chicken wings deep fried and covered in salt. You want your
proteins to give you bang for their calorific buck, so to speak. Red meat, chicken and legumes are rich in protein. A serve of baked beans or chickpeas is an excellent alternative to meat proteins. While whey and milk-based protein powders are ideal for ultimate calcium and easily-absorbed protein, there's plenty of plant-based proteins that are worthy of cupboard space. Choose powders that have the least amount of ingredients listed and avoid sugar-loaded, toxic tasting candy powders unless you want to bulk up your guts more than your muscles.



crystals rock salt lamps energy
rock salt lamps cat woods

Embrace Rock Salt Lamps & Crystals In Your Home

Sure, I know it sounds all Gwyneth, but I can't tell you how peaceful my space feels when I have my rock salt lamps on and only natural lighting. It feels like bringing an ancient big old chunk of nature into my home. It feels restorative. I have both a 4kg lamp in my bedroom and a smaller sphere that plugs into my laptop USB port and lights up when I'm working.- totally recommended for travel and workplaces.
 Whether you believe the negative ions the salt lamps emit are genuinely beneficial is secondary. Just having that gentle glow emanating near you is calming in itself. My rock salt lamp and a Selenite crystal tower that I keep by my bed for the positive energy it symbolises and channels into my home are from Rock Salt Lamps

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Cruelty Free Beauty


Now that the vegan lifestyle is no longer identified with kale-socks-and-sandals and anaemic hippies, there’s a growing curiosity and desire for products that aren’t made of any animal products nor tested on animals. 

Fortunately, there’s no lack of choice and quality in this area. Being vegan can be a challenge when it comes to finding sharp shoes, but when it comes to hair and makeup there’s a treasure trove of brands and products that are guilt-free. Where these brands are not 100% vegan, they are absolutely cruelty free.

INIKA is all organic, all natural Australian makeup. There’s a vast array of mineral eyeshadow shades, certified organic lipstick (Orchid Fields is the perfect shade of violet) and also offers mineral bronzer, foundation, illuminiser and blush. Prefer fluid foundation and in need of an eyebrow pencil? No worries, they’ve got you covered for that too.

Zoeva is high-end makeup (your budget will need to stretch a little here..) and there’s also a range of professional standard makeup brushes. In store, it’s available in Australia via Sephora but there are several online stores that stock it too. While the entire range is not certified vegan, the brushes are synthetic and entirely vegan and every product is 100% cruelty free.

Laura Mercier is entirely cruelty free and does not test products or ingredients on animals. None of their suppliers nor third parties test on animals either. Because Laura Mercier is cruelty free, their products are not sold in China, which requires animal testing on makeup by law. Here’s a hint too...if your favourite brand (perhaps one that has Miley and Lady Gaga in their ads?) is sold in China, there’s a good chance it tests on animals and won’t be ceasing this any time soon.

Kat Von D makeup is not only a cult range fronted by one of the most beautiful, tattooed goddesses on the planet but also entirely vegan.  The liquid lipsticks (especially Lolita) are raved about by makeup artists, instagram makeup stars and beauty lovers internationally. The liquid eyeliners and palettes are one of the top sellers at Sephora both in the US and Australia. While buying Kat Von D makeup won’t guarantee the perfect cat’s eye look, nor that you’ll turn into a 6”4 punk rock goddess, it will allow you to get a small step closer to the dream.
3ina cruelty free beauty

3INA is a Cult Beauty Brand. Three words to send shivers of excitement down the spines of mascara loving maidens and lipstick lovers. 3INA (pronounce it "MEENA") launched in Melbourne in 2016 with stores in Melbourne Central and Soutland. Professional quality Euro-made makeup that doesn't cost your weekly wage. Guaranteed cruelty free, super bold colours and unique collections. The latest UV collection takes on a nightclub attitude under UV lights where it goes all disco under the lights. I love the richly pigmented pink and purple mascaras especially. The Chubby Highlighter is better than two espressos for disguising no sleep. 
elf cosmetics cat woods blog

ELF is the super budget friendly vegan brand you can depend on for all the basics as well as the bells and whistles products. From foundation to concealer, eyeliner to blusher, bronzer and lipstick, ELF products commonly fall into the under $20 basket meaning you can live guilt free and debt free after stocking your makeup cupboard. Beautiful. Literally.



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Winter Wellbeing: Body, Hair & Face

As you know - or will come to know - I get excited at anything that sparkles, glows, emanates colour, smells beautiful, looks amazing... whether it's eyeshadow, yoga pants, organic coconut oil, if it's divinely presented and a joy to use, I'm all for it.

Now that Winter Is Here, it's time to ease up on the self tanning if you're so inclined and instead to slather on moisturiser under your socks and sleeves. If, like me, heavily over heated rooms and shops really play havoc with your sinuses, I totally recommend Xlear. I discovered it at a health foods store but it's also in Priceline and other pharmacies. No steroids, no nasties, all natural and it clears up and moisturises at the same time. Alternatively, saline spray might be your best friend.

Life is short, and you only get one, so use all the good things and indulge yourself in beauty and wellness rituals that revive your body and your spirit. Sometimes it's the tiniest luxuries that remind you there are simple joys to be had every single day.

Eminence Coconut Body Firming Lotion is a richly scented, creamy lotion that is perfect for winter. Rather than disguising your scaly little limbs under full length leggings all winter, get out of your steamy shower and smear this all over. Then go forth into your day or night, knowing you are channelling some tropical summer vibes of your own.

I've just had my hair lightened to a very pale blonde ombre at the ends so it is super sensitive and dry. Because I refuse to give up on sleek, smooth and straight, I have to do all the things. Here's my advice regardless of whether you have coloured hair or not:
  • Use a heat-protection spray or leave-in product
  • Don't use the same old straightening irons you've been using for years (they're too hot!)
  • Invest in quality hair care and high tech stylers if you use them regularly (I have recently discovered 100% Australian EVY iQ styler. Never going back - this is the best!)
  • Wash twice a week and use a masque once a fortnight or more often if needed

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Plump Your Skin: 5 Treatments To Do In Your Thirties & Forties


As a magazine junkie, I admit I can see how women would gain the idea that an entirely crease-free, plastic-fresh face would seem like a normal goal in life. The airbrushing is madness! But there are images sometimes, like the divine Christy Turlington for Valentino, with her untamed hair and the gentle lines of a lifetime of smiling, where true natural beauty is on show.

In the age of the selfie, where snapping photos of your food and your face and your dog in the middle of conversation is seemingly de rigeur, it's only natural we should be more aware of lines, creases, blotchy skin and spots. There is no particular age at which these start to show... and really, we need some perspective too. These are signs of ageing, which is inevitable and beautiful. The alternative is either never having lived at all, or being dead. Those creases, those lines, those sun-spots are all proof you have lived, laughed and loved. So I am forthwith, not giving you the low-down on how to be entirely frozen faced and line-free! Nobody wants to kiss and cuddle and converse with a puffer fish stuck on a human body. These are treatments, with the benefits and details, that you can consider as an investment in slowing down and reversing signs of facial ageing. Great skin: glowing, evenly pigmented, bright eyes and healthy, hydrated skin and hair are beautiful at any and every age.
beauty 30s blue hair jaime king

Celebrity nutritionist and naturopath, Nigma Talib advises to minimise, and ideally cut, the following from your diet on a semi-regular basis for two weeks to enhance digestion and improve skin health from the gut:
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
 Start with the very insides and then come with me and try the following:

Enzyme Facial

face mask salon beauty baysideI have had the "Time Less Enzyme" facial at Bayside Skin & Laser two months ago and my skin looked firmer and the shape of my face more defined for days afterwards. This has NEVER happened after any other treatment. It can feel like your face and decolletage are being squeezed under pressure from the treatment masque as it absorbs, but this doesn't last longer than 10 minutes before cleansing so hang tight. The Enzyme facial is part of a treatment plan. Ideally, you'll do this facial as part of a program of other treatments which it prepares the face for: hydrating, balancing and stimulating cell turnover.

Laser

Who here hasn't watched Star Wars? Everyone knows lasers are good news!
bayside skin skincare laser 30sBut seriously, get this on your face, stat. All the celebrities are doing it, so you know it must be worth your pennies. Taking less than half an hour, I have a quick cleanse, don eye protection and a laser wand is directed over my cheeks, chin, forehead and briefly over my nose pulsing 40 degree heat deep into my facial skin to stimulate the cells. The heat brings blood flow to the face and causes micro-damage which forces the skin cells to recruit collagen for repair. The result? Plumpness. Right where you want it - cheeks, chin, under-eyes and forehead. Again, Bayside Skin & Laser is my salon of choice. Make sure you entirely trust the clinician you go to (word of mouth counts!)


Skin Needling

I have only had one treatment and so I can't vouch for it being a long-term effective treatment as the recommendation is to have around 6 treatments minimum over a series of months. I'd be more than happy to continue to try this and it has been highly recommended for treatment of acne scarring or pigmentation (or both!). There are also now some tools for at-home use but ultimately, the salon experience will always be conducted by a trained professional and when it comes to needles and your face, consider the approach you want to take.
I went to Claire Francoise in Prahran. I have also had a professional full body tan at Claire Francoise and it was the best one I've ever had - totally natural, dark, non-sticky and fast developing.

If you have experienced a treatment that changed your skin or stopped the clock at 35, tell me. Go on. I'll be on Facebook and Instagram awaiting!

xCat




Thursday, 1 June 2017

Burn at the Barre (or Chair, or Kitchen Bench...)

I'm often asked what resources I recommend for my barre, pilates and yoga participants when they're on extended holidays, travelling or just working irregular hours that mean a consistent class attendance just isn't gonna happen. Without fail, I always recommend Sadie Lincoln from barre3 and the divine, funny, challenging and inspiring Tracey Mallett who posts regular pilates and barre videos that enable you to workout at home.

You don't need a barre - the back of your chair will do the trick. Try this one. If these attitude "in-out-tap" moves don't give you the burn, I will fall onto my barre-toned bum in amazement.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

My Muscle Chef Food Delivery for Fitness Foodies

I'm no stranger to food delivery services and I've had the good, the bad and the ugly (ahem, see last post on food delivery experience!). My Muscle Chef is one I've returned to twice since my initial order and the only one I've actually returned to wholeheartedly. I can honestly affirm that they are always bang on time with delivery, notifying the night before via SMS to remind us forgetful types, and every single meal tastes freakin' amazing.

Since they began, the plant based and vegan options for meals has expanded and I can swear by the green curry tofu and brown rice. I could eat that at every meal for weeks and not crave anything else. There's a real misconception that if you want to maintain a fit, lean, athletic body you need to restrict and retreat from anything enjoyable. That's about as old-school as leotards, legwarmers and headbands in an aerobics class.

What joy would there be in living to 100, strong, fit and flexible, if you were counting out the almonds and turning down invitations to dinner and dessert? Food is not purely a fuel. It's a source of nourishment the same way that movement, nature, studying, work and relationships nourish. And just as any relationship comes down to quality over quantity, finding the right balance and knowing what works for you, so you need to find foods that you love to eat, have the nutrients that keep your body energised and satiated, that are available and affordable.
plant based muscle food

I'm a big fan of having staple meals that you can always rely on - even if you only learn to make 4 things in your life - there's always small ways to vary those meals by adding herbs or changing the condiments you use or the brand of rice or fish or lentils!

The real beauty of a meal delivery service - beyond having every meal perfectly portion controlled (for those who could easily polish off three servings without pause... ahem!) - is that I'm challenged to try new flavours and combinations I wouldn't necessarily put the time and effort into creating myself. Salmon and brown rice with a mushroom sauce, for example. Vegetarian frittata. Tofu curry. I'm inspired to crack open one of the zillion recipe books I own and keep on turning my meals into a rainbow of colours and flavours.

If you're thinking that food delivery is a luxury you can't possibly justify, then see it more as an investment in expanding your flavour and taste repertoire for life. Think of this as one week where you readjust your palate to desire and crave nutritious foods like tofu and brown rice, to anticipate the spicy curry sauce or veggie stew you'd never bother to make for yourself. Think about what you normally spend on all the raw, unprocessed ingredients throughout a week and how many snacks or wasted food you throw money at. Then decide whether having portion-controlled, easy to heat-and-serve meals for one week is actually not such an indulgence at all.
Check out My Muscle Chef.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bowls Of Goodness

I've been a big fan of Nina Olssen on Instagram for a few years. She is the creator of Nourish Atelier, dedicated to creating and sharing divinely delicious plant based recipes and her buddha bowls (combinations of colourful and vibrant, healthy ingredients all in one bowl) are to die for. So, naturally, when her book of bowls was released this year, I was all over it. Luckily, I'm able to share two of my favourite recipes with you. Hope you love them and make them your own - perhaps you change one or two of the ingredients or you opt for a different condiment. Let me know how you modify these recipes and any of your favourite buddha bowl recipes are always welcome. Stay in touch via my Facebook page.

Recipes from Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment by Nina Olsson. Published by Kyle Books. RRP $39.99. Out now.


Rainbow Pad Thai
ALMOST RAW RAINBOW CARROT NOODLES, TOASTED CASHEWS AND SPICY TOFU

rainbow pad thai
My family loves noodles in all shapes and colours. Serving a rainbow Pad Thai pleases both small and grown up eaters. It’s a little juicier and fresher then regular rice or buckwheat noodles, so it complements the spicy tofu and peanut sauce beautifully. The avocado plays an important role here, adding a buttery creaminess that binds it all together. This noodle bowl is just as good as dinner as it is a side salad.
   
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 handfuls of cashew nuts
6 rainbow carrots, spiralised
2 avocados, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 head of a small red cabbage, shredded
handful of chopped coriander
6 spring onions, finely chopped
   
4 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sriracha
2 tablespoons coconut oil
200g firm tofu, pressed
water, to thin
             
50ml peanut butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped to a paste
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
30ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
juice of 1 lime
water, to thin

Mix the ingredients for the spicy peanut sauce and set aside. Mix the coconut sugar with soy, olive oil and sriracha for the tofu.
Heat up a frying pan over a medium– high heat and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes until golden, then pour over the soy mix and fry for another 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat. Add another tablespoon of coconut oil and stir-fry the cashew nuts for 2-3 minutes over a medium-high heat, then remove from the heat. Mix the carrot noodles with the avocado, red cabbage, coriander, cashews, tofu and spring onions and serve with the spicy peanut sauce.


The Loyal Lentil Chilli
Lentil chilli with butternut squash, coconut milk, pepper and lime

Do you have a dish that never fails you, like a loyal friend, who keeps showing up and impresses you by always being top-notch? I have a few and this lentil chilli has been the star of my regular repertoire for years. This is also one of the most made and loved recipes from my blog. Lentils can come across as a bit dull sometimes, but this dish is nothing like it. With flavours that really sing together – earthy cumin and cinnamon, tangy lime and coriander, hot chilli and garlic – it harmonises perfectly with sweet butternut squash and chewy lentils. Instead of butternut squash you can use cooked pumpkin, aubergine or any other fleshy vegetable you have.

SERVES 4
250 puy or beluga lentils
1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
5– 7 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a
paste with 1 teaspoon salt
1 + ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
400g butternut squash, cooked and chopped into small pieces
400ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

SIMPLE YOGURT SAUCE
200g yogurt or vegan yogurt (soygurt or coconut yogurt)
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

QUICKEST CUCUMBER SALAD
½ cucumber, shaved into ribbons
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
TO SERVE
fresh coriander
hot sauce, like sriracha
cooked brown rice or other whole grain
lime wedges

Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions, rinse, drain and set aside. Heat a frying pan over a medium– high heat. Add the oil and gently fry the shallots until transparent. Add the garlic, spices, pepper, chilli and tomatoes and fry for a few minutes over a medium– low heat. Stir in the lentils, squash, tahini and honey. Pour in the coconut milk and stir, then let the chilli simmer over a medium– low heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if needed and stirring regularly. Add the lime juice and soy, then let it simmer for a further few minutes while stirring. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Mix the ingredients for the yogurt sauce. Make the cucumber salad by combining the shaved cucumber and rice vinegar. Drizzle the chilli with extra virgin olive oil, top with freshly chopped coriander and serve with the cool yogurt sauce and salad. Serve with a hot sauce, rice and lime as extras on the table. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Blonde - the magazine

I'm in the midst of my blonde ombre transformation via hairdresser extraordinaire, Mariah at Hairhouse Warehouse. My barre and yoga classes have been lucky enough to see the various stages of yellowness on the way to being a clean blonde. I'm definitely keeping my dark roots though - this is how this look becomes sustainable without constant bleaching and maintenance. Even when my hair has grown out in a few years, I'll still have super light ends. To maintain, lots of hair masks and definitely use a purple-based shampoo and conditioner (Redken Blonde Idol) to avoid brassiness from pollution and tap water. I imagined up the magazine I'd want to read for inspo. What do you think? Could it be the new Vogue?
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Yoga, Plant Based Eating and Natural Balinese Beauty in Ubud

Plant Based Eating
Plant Based Eating Ubud Bali

On this, my second visit to Ubud in the past five years, I was told over and over again by friends and strangers that I must visit Moksa if I loved raw food. Or even if I didn't know I loved it. 
On their recommendations and with a fierce curiosity, I trekked up Penestanan past Y Resort towards the rice fields and Moksa's incredible permaculture garden and restaurant. I was not disappointed!
Chef Made is a genius, and I don't bestow this claim lightly. I was fortunate to see him at work in the kitchen and when I asked for the recipe for my favourite dish (avocado enchiladas in pumpkin wraps), he sent me the recipe that very evening!
Moksa was founded by Janur and Made after they had worked together at a five-star resort serving raw food in Ubud. With dreams of running their own sustainable farm/cooking school and restaurant, Moksa was the stunning result.
The menu changes seasonally and the space easily accommodates single diners, families, romantic dates and group dinners. With wi-fi and candlelit tables at night, it's not to be missed. Cannot recommend those avocado enchiladas enough. Even if you don't know the slightest thing about raw food, nor plant based food, this is flavourful, decadent food at seriously affordable prices. There's a cookbook coming out this year and I'm hungrily awaiting it. 
Check out their Facebook page for updates and events. Highly recommend enrolling in a class with Chef Made. 

Natural Balinese Beauty
Utama Spice Ubud Bali

There can be no better marketing for Utama Spice than Ria Templer. Her mother began Utama Spice in the 1970s after she had determinedly raised her children and family with traditional Balinese practices regarding natural solutions to skin, health and wellbeing. Using recipes, herbs, spices, fruits and plants to create tailored treatments, it
Utama Spice beauty Bali
wasn't long before her skills and talents spread from friends, family and local community to reach international interest. Soon, she was providing natural, organic skin and body treatments to five-star spas and hotels. Utama Spice provided her with her own business and freedom to create products she knew were essential to wellbeing under her own label. Importantly, Utama Spice employed local women at a time when it as traditional for the man of the house to be the breadwinner and women to stay at home. The business has a renewed vigour and strategy under the loving management of Ria and her partner now. Still producing the highly popular Bug Spray, they also do face, hair and body scrubs, washes and serums. I made my own lemongrass, ginger and bergamot scent and can also vouch the Yoga Spray is THE BEST. I recommend visiting the store but you can also find the products at Yoga Barn, Bali Buda and other quality yoga, organic and natural produce venues around Ubud. 
Go to the Utama Spice website for stockists, story and product info.

Yoga
Yoga Barn Bali

Yoga Barn runs yoga and lifestyle classes throughout the day, every day. The Ecstatic Dance evening has a queue for hours before it begins so if you are inclined to truly get your yoga groove on, get there early! I was fortunate to try Vinyasa Flow with fabulous Nadine and also a really creative, flowy and strong Vinyasa Flow with Murni.
The OMG? OMG! I'll be borrowing that one for my own classes.
I also tried classes I never normally would have if not for the fact I was at a loose end and it was a convenient time. Shamanic Healing which honestly, I wouldn't recommend with the teacher who I experienced BUT still an interesting experience and certainly you meet a lot of international yogis and wellness warriors so that's worth the entry price and more.
I also did Iyengar Yoga with Christine who studied under the late, great Iyengar himself. She is a complete treasure chest of knowledge on the body and yoga. The concept of movement that focuses on joint integrity and health with the AID of muscles rather than a muscular focus really got me thinking about where to place the focus and intention when moving and teaching. Recommend you try this long-time Ubud venue before trekking elsewhere. And Denise Payne is unmissable. Make sure you get to her Yin and Power Yoga. All teachers listed here.




Thursday, 27 April 2017

Instructing Versus Teaching: Delivering Lessons That Last Beyond Class

In over 12 years of group fitness training and personal training, I have come to recognise the vital role an instructor can play in delivering lessons that go beyond the hour you spend with students. It is the difference between instructing while holding attention for a single class, and delivering knowledge that lasts a lifetime.
A teacher has many opportunities throughout class, and via social media, newsletters, online videos and digital channels, where they can sow a seed of curiosity, build a relationship with students and instil appreciation for our bodies. Instructors can also play a part in cultivating mental strength and resilience, the ability to take ownership of our fitness, and our cognitive processes around movement, mobility and endurance.

After two recent classes, the highly skilled and highly respected teachers admitted to me that they worried they may have spoken too much or used anatomical terms or energetic cues that might be “too much” for participants. In fact, I have learned that many – perhaps all – students attend group fitness classes because they ARE curious about their own bodies, they ARE passionate about movement and fitness; they want to know more. People don’t necessarily need to understand the myofascial system or the insertion and origin of muscles to fully appreciate when you tell them to work the full range of a muscle or give a cue regarding physical or energetic systems of the body (ie: in yoga, relating the breath or areas of the body to their spiritual or traditionally held beliefs around where emotions are held or the spiritual aspects of breath relating to movement).

Spark curiosity.

Sow a seed that enables the curious students to consider. Don’t be afraid to share what you know and to do so confidently and invite interest.
There will always be instructors who have 10 years more experience than you. There will always be instructors who are labelled “Master” instructors in what they do, but that doesn’t mean your experience and knowledge and particular approach is not relevant, meaningful and impactful. When you enter the room as an instructor, you are charged with the responsibility and credibility to teach what you believe is right and valid. Just as in any discipline from quantum physics to medicine to sculpture, there are constant discoveries and developments so it is only natural that there are differences between teachers as to approach and ideas.  As long as you can explain the what, how and why, you are doing your job.
fitness instruction inspiration

What: The movement, sequence or pose (ie. Wide squat)
How: The cues, alignment and technique (ie. Stand with heels outside hips, sit weight back and down with knees wide)
Why: The purpose and benefit of the move (ie. To work the glutes, postural chain of muscles, engage strong thighs and challenge core strength and raise the heart rate)
Think about your role as a value proposition. There are thousands of instructors who could teach under the same label (yoga, pilates, BodyPump, step, etc) but what experiences have you had, and what particular strengths and interests can you share and communicate with your class? Have you rehabilititated your body after an injury? Have you found a particular cue or mental focus during exercise really invigorates and motivates your own activity? Share that. Students want to connect with you. Let them!

Think of different classes as being like different languages. While each language, from Japanese to Inuit, has its own rhythm, sound, cadence and calibre there are universal laws of communication. Listen to the people you’re speaking to, measure your expression and delivery for your audience, consider what your body language says just as much as what you’re saying, and pay attention to the timing, volume and message of your words and actions.

Find the right balance though and take into consideration the different venues and classes you take. There is definitely no place for “over-sharing” or giving lectures as if it’s an Anatomy 101 class, unless of course you are taking a specific workshop or advanced class that is prepared and open to this sort of teaching. Consider context and circumstances, always.
There is a balance to be found between giving the standard instructions (timing, direction, alignment) and then building the blocks that really deepen the effectiveness of your teaching and the actual structure and sequence of your class.

This is where you develop your teaching beyond the a) What; and
b) How;
to explain the essential Why.

Why does a particular pose or sequence work? Which muscles are being activated and what role do they play both in the class and then in life? Why does it matter to have strong glutes?
Armature Pilates owner, Pilates teacher trainer and herself an instructor, Stephanie Glickman identifies an “ability to keep a large and diverse group  moving and in good form with attentive and individual correction” as a skill key to memorable and inspiring instructors.
“It’s important that an instructor is able to give constructive feedback and cueing because they have a good eye, not just saying “good work” all the time...but giving corrections that the client wouldn’t get elsewhere,” she elaborates.

The key to having a good eye can come back to having a strong commitment to your job but also, importantly, your own personal practice and experience.
Good instructors “have their own solid personal practice and commitment to what they are teaching; they truly know and understand the work in their bodies themselves,” Glickman says.

She nominates the following qualities as those that make a teacher stand out from the rest:
  • relates to clients personally - knows everyone's names, asks how they are, remembers their "issues" and injuries and is attentive to them; goes up to clients they don't know and talks to them, finds out about who they are and what they need
  • technically clear and accurate cueing, not too complex to be confusing but still challenging exercises
  • considered pace and control of exercises throughout class
  • programming that considers participants' weaknesses, make them do things they need but may not like
  • a mix of giving the clients what they need and what they want
  • making clients feel good about themselves and excited to come back to class
  • friendly, nice, humble, not rude, pretentious or precious

Glickman also emphasises the importance of knowing your own strengths and interests so that you can master what you’re especially good at rather than trying to cover all the bases or mimic other instructors. Her essential lessons for instructors seeking to elevate their “instructor” role to “Teacher” as follows:
  • Find your own "thing"/style/way of teaching and just stick to that and keep improving on that; don't be pressured to follow fads or trends
  • err on the side of solid basics rather than high complexity and try to extract the best from your clients without over cueing or correcting them or making them feel overwhelmed
  • have your "set" things that you know work that you can always draw on and then add to that more creative  or different things
  • have some jokes up your sleeve
  • don't wear low waist leggings and demonstrate cat stretch - embarrassing wardrobe malfunction!




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

This isn't the first time I've explored meal delivery services to support and encourage eating portion controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Why would a trainer and instructor, with thorough knowledge of how to buy, prepare and plan healthy, delicious meals opt to have them delivered to me? For several reasons.
Despite having enough recipe books to build a small community library, and also having the time to prepare meals, I often find that I fall into routines of eating the same meals, day after day after day. It's boring.
It can also be easy to opt for making the same, boring meals I know when I don't have the incentive of preparing meals for anyone other than myself!
lean protein no gluten thr1ve vegetarian meals

Here is where Thr1ve has come to my rescue. I first saw the promotions for Thr1ve at the fitness centre I work at. Curious and dreading the inevitable dinner that would be exactly the same dinner I ate lastnight and the night before, I looked up the website. The founder of Thr1ve is the entrepreneurial fitness and fashion industry veteran, Josh Spark. This is a man who knows how to move, live and eat fit. Goal. I also looked through the menu and thought, I WANT to eat that, and that...and definitely that. Goal two. It could all be delivered to my door without fuss. Triple goals. Sold!

Now, there are various plans to opt for but here is the approach I took. I have ordered a 7-day week of meals along with probiotic water to support digestion. My prime goals are:
balanced macronutrients with wholefoods, plants and lean protein as the prime ingredients!



  • flavour rich, simple meals that I can be inspired to recreate in my own kitchen on an ongoing basis
  • well proportioned meals - tiny frozen blocks that are masquerading as lunch and dinner are a no go. I won't be sitting around watching netflix all day so I need food that fuels my active life
  • FRESH, non-frozen meals ready to eat (Thr1ve is one of the rare meal delivery services that delivers food freshly made, non-frozen so that if you don't get through it in the 7 days from delivery, you can choose to freeze it yourself)

My Thr1ve options are also intended to maintain my weight but for anyone who has a tendency to eat high-carb, multi-servings or excessive portions or desserts, you'll lose weight on these meals (if you're not eating extra meals between the planned meals!).

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

What's a ketogenic diet? High in protein and fats, low in carbohydrates and gluten free.

As you all well know, I do not advocate for strict diets of any nature. While I see the health benefits of kickstarting a healthy approach to meal planning and nutritious eating with a low-sugar, minimally processed food approach, it is not ideal to maintain a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet in the long term. While some fitness and bodybuilding fanatics will swear black and blue the ketogenic diet is the ultimate way to eat, the high protein and fat content is violently unhealthy on the liver and kidneys and the extreme lack of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, fruits) can cause fatigue, lethargy, poor function of the nervous and hormonal system.
Thr1ve vegetable frittata meal delivery
Fortunately, Thr1ve meals are well balanced to include smart, wholefood carbohydrates with thorough nutritional density (brown rice, quinoa, root vegetables, potato) and even the classic Atkins' diet advocated eating sweet potato, moderate servings of fruit and complex carbs after the initial week or so of high protein meals. The meals I've opted for, and the meals generally, are moderate carbohydrates, lean and moderate protein and low-fat. As a healthy-fats advocate (they promote vitamin absorption, hormonal balance and appetite fulfilment!) I have been adding sweet potato and raw cashews and almonds to my meals but you must read your own appetite and decide what you want to add. Unless you're trying to shed weight, you'll want to be adding smart snacks between meals as they are small serves.

Disclaimer: Of 14 meals (over a 7 day trial) FOUR meals went rancid by the fourth day and had to be thrown out. The "fresh greens" in two more also went bitter, flaccid and were inedible. I let Thr1Ve know and they made the excuse they were new to the meal delivery business and offered no remedy. Hopefully this issue is resolved but be warned.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Probiotics - Give Your Guts Some Goodness

probiotics the gut guide

Why Probiotics?


  • Your gut is home to between 500 and 2,000 species of bacteria, yeast, parasites, viruses and other micro-organisms

  • Our bodies have 10 times more microbes than human cells

  • Everything can affect the balance of the gut micro-flora from stress, sleep, antibiotics and prescription medicines, excess of food, undereating or malnutrition, highly processed foods, food preservatives and environment



  • Digestive diseases are common - from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to urinary tract disease, allergies to foods and yeast infections

  • Abs are made in the kitchen. Common imbalances in gut flora can lead to indigestion, bloating, fluid retention and gas

  • While you absolutely must consume probiotic-rich foods, stay active and have a plan in place to deal with stressful situations (counselling, friends to talk to, a regular meditation and yoga practice), I regularly take probiotic supplements to bolster my gut health (I highly recommend Restore Daily Probiotic from Nature's Way. There's also the Restore 100 Billion option.)


  • Chronic inflammation of the guts can erode the gut lining, leading to Leaky Gut (allowing vital nutrients and even food particles to leak from the gut, creating a toxic environment in the body)

  • Your gut bacteria produces vitamin B12 and K2, vital for energy, nervous system function and immunity 

  • Probiotics assist in balancing gut bacteria to outnumber the bad bacteria, yeast and fungi causing gut inflammation

  • Probiotics create enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria and stimulate the T-cells, responsible for immune system integrity



  • We naturally produce probiotics in the gut but lifestyle choices and disease can threaten their quality and quantity

  • A lack of probiotics can lead to digestive disorders, skin issues, yeast infections, vulnerability to colds and flus on a regular basis

  • Probiotics can prevent and treat urinary tract infections

  • Probiotics have been shown to improve and manage eczema in children


Boost Your Digestion, Make Your Skin Glow & Power Your Metabolism

Sound too good to be true? There's no single pill you can take and carry on living exactly as you are if you want to tick the three bo...