How to Get Fit, Inside and Out…

Lately, my friend Amy and I have somewhat merged our fitness journeys, which includes doing workouts together while video chatting, and sharing our healthy choices in meal planning, as well as keeping each other motivated and (more or less!) on track.  It’s all been so inspiring, because fitness isn’t something to achieve, necessarily.  It’s something to maintain and better every day –a daily habit, and one which we’ve been working on for a few months now and still going strong!  So today, I wanted to share a few ways on how to get fit and stay fit, inside and out.

Work Out Outfit

Find and incorporate a fitness program that you like and that suits your lifestyle.  For me, a combination of Ballet Beautiful and Sleek Technique works best, although I do not do their live classes very often as I find their programs a bit expensive with the exchange rate.  Also, BB has –perhaps temporarily– taken out the option of streaming classes online.  Why do I do ballet inspired workouts?  For me, boot-camp style workouts are not motivating, and are often overwhelming.  The sense of calm and peace during a workout is very important to me, and the goal of most ballet fitness programs are to achieve long, lean lines while working out muscles that people who do not dance would not necessarily use.  I like that, and that is why these programs work for me!

Look at your beauty products.  I sincerely believe that the less you use, the better for you.  “Easy for you!” some people say.  “You don’t deal with pimples or skin problems on a regular basis,”  This is true to an extent: I do get pimples occasionally, dry skin quite often, and even more frequently, there are days when I just feel dull and blah.  I find that simply making sure that my skin is clean and fresh, and pampering my hair or styling it is enough to blow away my discontent with my appearance.  If you can, figure out whether you are using cosmetics to enhance your features, or as a crutch.  Don’t let it be the latter!!  And if you do use makeup, look into natural, organic beauty lines.  These companies have come a long way and limited palettes are no longer a mark against going organic.

A few of my favourites are Josie Maran (I love her sunscreens!), Tata Harper, Belmondo, Weleda (try their deodorants!), Burts BeesRocky Mountain Soap Company, Wild Prairie Soap Company.  You can also check how ‘green’ your favourite products are with EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database!  Another tip that I’ve learned is that even though you’ve done research on a company and trust them, you should always do a follow-up research after a few years.  New products are added, and sometimes this means new ingredients that may not be up to the level of quality you’ve come to expect from the brand.

Beauty isn’t the only area where you can go clean and live green!  Items from household cleaning liquids to hand soaps have greener cousins –look for those products, and enjoy a well-rounded eco-conscious life!

Natural Favourites

Get into the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day.  It seems mundane and obvious, but drinking water increases energy and speeds up weight loss.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice into your glass to add some flavour –plus lemon water does wonders for your skin!  Just be sure you don’t brush your teeth immediately afterwards!

Eat antioxidant-rich foods such as tomatoes, cantaloupes, berries, oranges (Vitamin C helps prevent wrinkles) and plums.  This is especially fantastic for the warmer weather months, as they are so refreshing.

Change your snacking habits!  Snack on almonds, walnuts (which contain alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps condition your hair –think supermodel shiny!), raisins, and ‘dipping vegetables’.

Eat broccoli.  It’s a great source of vitamin A which helps improve cell turn-over, which means that skin renewal is much quicker, too!

Eat whole wheat.  Selenium found in whole wheat products helps improve skin cells.

Eat lean red meat and eggs for their iron-rich qualities –iron will help if you’re feeling pale or have dark circles under your eyes.

Eat lots of fish.  So yummy, and so good for you!  I recently became a part-time pescatarian, and it’s made me feel a great deal better.  I do still enjoy the occasional steak, though.  😉

Take time to sleep, relax, catch up with and be good to yourself.  Reading, taking walks, reflection, and making time for even a movie and a cup of tea will help re-center and energise you.

Making a Stink… About Poo-Pourri…

Dear readers,

Your MIA blogger is back in action, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than to talk about the basic human function of doing a No. 2?

Normally, this is a topic usually left out of civilised conversation, but I’m going to share with you a way to pretend that you never poo.  Or at least, if you do, fairy dust and unicorn wings are involved.

By now, if you watch Youtube videos, you most likely have come across this sassy advertisement:

Curiosity piqued?  Mine was!  The lovely Tiffany from Nail Polish Canada sent along a bottle of Poo-Pourri‘s ‘Poo La La  for me to test and review.

Miss Cathie Reviews - Poo-Pourri - Poo La La

Poo-Pouri claims to stop odours before they even start, and it works like so:  the essential oils create a protective barrier when sprayed onto the surface of the toilet water, and keeps everything trapped underneath the oily film of scented goodness.  However, the best part about Poo-Pouri is that it is completely natural.  I balked at first at the idea of spritzing potentially harmful ingredients and causing damage to our water system every time one has to go.  Thank goodness then, that Suzy (the founder) is just as crazy about being environmentally friendly as I am.  Rest assured, she guarantees that all Poo-pouri products are alcohol, aerosol, parabens, phthalates, formadlehyde, and synthetic fragrance free.  Yes, please, and thank you!

Let us first start off with the notes, which are a combination of my favourite flowers and plant/fruits:  peony + rose + citrus.  As promised, the fragrance of the blended essential oils is quite pleasing, but the strongest note is the citrus, which isn’t unpleasant –I do like a good citrus.  I just hoped that it would be more meadow than breakfast fruit, but that is most likely because I love the scent of peonies.  The scent did not give me a headache or seem artifical, as most commercial/synthetic fragrances do.

I have used this magical concoction quite a few times since I got it, and have even brought it to work; I love how it doesn’t mask, but contains the smell.  If your No. 2 doesn’t leave a strong scent to begin with, I’ve found that even one spritz can be more than enough if you use (and you should always use) the courtesy flush –i.e., flush as you go, don’t let it collect in the bowl!

As others have noted on Amazon, it’s hard to spray when you tip the bottle sideways completely.  My secret is to spray at a 45° angle; it works quite well!

In short, Poo-Pourri absolutely delivers.  It is practical, discreet, and cheeky –qualities a good ‘toilet accessory’ should possess.

To get your own Poo-Pourri, go and take a peek at Nail Polish Canada’s selection here!

I now leave you with this little limerick for Poo La La.

pooetry:
there once was a dame called Colette,
whose odor she’d rather forget.
she bid odor adieu,
by spritzing the loo,
au revoir to “eww” de toilette.

— Cathie

Disclaimer:  Although the product was gifted, this post features my honest opinions and I went out and bought deja poo with my own money.  Every opinion expressed herein is true and not influenced in any manner.

Survive THAT Week, Naturally…

Well ladies,

It is a fact of life.  There are certain days in the month when a girl just sees red, feels weepy, and wants —needs— to stay under downy covers and watch a good movie (romantic comedies for me!) while nursing certain aches and pains.

Here are a few tips that I’ve found help me through this not-quite-awesome time:

  • Pamper yourself, and take it easy as much as you can.
  • Drink lots of hot water and tea.  Above all, avoid the salt cravings.  They never help.
  • Do simple stretching exercises.  The last thing you might want to do is exercise, but something light actually helps you channel your energy and focus on something besides your pains.  You will feel better after; I promise!  I recommend Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Beautiful program.
  • Make a point of dressing up.  You will feel far more confident and beautiful than your condition would have you believe possible.  Flowing tops, a-line skirts and a trench coat are amazing for hiding and flattering your figure at the same time!

***

On a related note, I wanted to share that I have made the switch over to reusable pads!  I felt so awful for just tossing so many un-recyclable pads in the rubbish. The guilt and the numbers certainly add up during a woman’s lifetime; that’s a really huge pile sitting in a landfill!

Cathie Maud - Lunapads in Cocoa Kaleidoscope

There are plenty of amazing companies to choose from, but the one I bought my intro kit is from Vancouver based Lunapads.  Not only is it great for the environment, and better for your skin with natural, non-scratchy fabrics, but it’s a fantastic way to save money as well.  Plus they have a One4Her incentive: For every eligible Lunapad purchased, a girl in need will receive a Ugandan-made AFRIpad pad to support her school attendance.  And ladies, they work.  Seriously, not to be TMI, but I have a heavy flow and this kit has not failed me for the three months I’ve used it.  Last  but not least, they have some fun colours and patterns to choose from.  My favourites are Cosmic Dancer and Cocoa Kaleidoscope.

How wicked is that?  Colour me impressed!!  I highly recommend them.

In case you’re interested, here’s what the intro kit includes:

Cathie Maud - Lunapads - Cocoa Kaleidoscope

Cleaning them is also quite easy, so don’t be daunted by the prospect!  If you’re like me, you may be used to shutting your eyes, ripping pads off, rolling them up and tossing them into the trash, end of story.  There are a few extra steps involved with reusable pads, but nothing incredibly complicated.  Lunapads recommends pre-soaking –change water daily if you go that route– or rinsing in cold water, but that isn’t always necessary.  For example, I worked through my last period.  When it was time to change, I folded the pad up and secured it with the snap buttons, and threw it into a Ziploc bag in my purse.  Double the bags up if you buy the flimsy no-name brands!  (Lunapads does sell bags to store and soak used/new pads in, but it’s not in my budget at the moment.)  When I got home, I simply un-fastened the snaps, threw it in with dark laundry on the cold water setting, and ran a load.  The pad came out unstained, too!  If you can’t wash it right away, you’ll definitely want to pre-soak or rinse it, just so nothing gets too ‘set’ in.  I usually try to air dry them so that the fibers last longer, but since I only have a starter kit, that’s usually not possible if frequent changes are needed.  Dry on low if you must.  🙂  (Thanks Katie for the wonderful question!!)

How do you beat feeling blue and seeing red during THAT week?

xoxo,

– Cathie

 

Review of My Live BB Class + Jane Austen Meets Ballet Beautiful…

This past April, I finally treated myself to a live Ballet Beautiful class, which was both fun and daunting, and I would absolutely do it again!

BBLiveClass
Having just gotten over the flu, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up throughout the class, but though it was a bit strenuous at times, I managed to stick it out for the entire hour.

Our instructor was Natia, and although I was just a teensy bit disappointed that I didn’t get a class with Mary Helen herself, Natia was really lovely.  We opened with some stretching, tackled arms next, and then went on to abs, legs and thighs.  Ouch!  At one point, I was really struggling and thought I would slyly kick the laptop to one side, so the world wouldn’t see me gasping for breath, but eagle-eyed Natia caught me at it.  “Cathie!” she called, “I can’t see you anymore!…”  Needless to say, my ‘brilliant’ plan didn’t work too well.  😛  While it was embarrassing at the time, I’m glad she caught me at it now –it’s proof that the instructors really do pay attention to what is going on in class, and I believe she had a live class going on at the same time as well!

The session was worth all the pain and soreness, and if I could afford it… I would definitely like to sign up for more live classes in the future –although I am trying to get my endurance up with the streaming videos and DVDs first.  A girl’s got to maintain her dignity, you know!

Two things I learned from this class:

  1.  The privacy option only prevents other attendees from viewing your webcam.  The instructor can still see youAhem.
  2. Don’t wear a leotard to a live class.  There may be some positions as you move around the mat where you will feel like you’re flashing the instructor (another boo-boo of mine).  Either have a wrap skirt, or just go for a nice, loose top and workout capris with your dance slippers –they will still look cute and ballerina-ish without the potential ‘oopsies’.  Save the leotard for those tête-à-têtes with the DVDs.

With my lesson learned, I embarked on a search for a pair of cute bottoms.  I knew I wanted a pair of capris as I find them to be a very flattering length, but the difficulty was in finding a pair made of cotton.  I don’t know why the majority of workout wear is now made out of nylon when cotton is so much more breathable to wear.  And don’t convince me otherwise, for I have tried these ‘breathable, fast-drying’ synthetic materials, such as the ‘Luon’ of Lululemon.  I’m especially disappointed with Lululemon because my friends lament over the fact that they used to carry cotton pieces, and now they have absolutely none.  Anyway, I finally found the cutest pair at Roots Canada –and the bonus is that it is made of organic cotton. 🙂  It even has 3 cute little snaps running down the sides at the bottom.  I hope they always have this style in stock!
Jane Austen Meets Ballet BeautifulFor the top, I found this sheer jersey cotton shirt, which has Mr. Darcy’s infamous proposal to Elizabeth screen-printed on it.  The cut of the sleeves are airy enough for workouts and on the whole, I thought it was a beautiful nod to my love for Jane and literature.  (And on an unrelated note, I adore browsing the Jane Austen Online Gift Shop!)

Ta da!! …

Cathie Maud -- Jane Austen Meets Ballet Beautiful
In Jane’s time, women’s exercises consisted chiefly of riding, walks and sitting outside to get some fresh air.  I like to think that if she lived in these modern times, Ballet Beautiful would really strike a chord with her, for its graceful moves set to romantic classical music.
Mr. Darcy Proposal Tee

(Buy your own Mr. Darcy Proposal t-shirt here. Not an affiliate link.)

How Goeth the New Year?

It is only day 3 I know, but I’m feeling truly inspired, positive, energised.  All those amazing rocketed-off-the-ground words, because it’s nigh impossible not to get caught up in the spirit of fresh beginnings.  However, due to past semi-failures, I know it takes determined amounts of focus, perseverance and commitment (basically the words that come to mind before a long, hard workout –heehee.  *nibbles on chocolate*) to see oneself and one’s resolutions past the present year and into the next.  With that in mind, I’m trying to be reasonable, and walk the fine line between not burning myself out and yet pushing myself further.

Dragon Year, 2012Dress from fashion4us.com (Personally would not buy the more expensive items, because I doubt their authenticity, but the mid-range items that I have tried are of good quality.)
Shoes: Elie Tahari ‘Vivianna’ pumps

We stayed in for New Year’s, and it was nice to just give each other a hug when the clock struck midnight.  In all honesty, I wish we had a grandfather’s clock, because I think you’re so much more aware of the passing of time.  All these quieter-than-whispers digital and analog clocks are practically non-existent!

Despite our quiet celebration, I decided to dress up anyway in a cheongsam/qipao because it’s the Year of the Dragon (which I was born in), and to ring the New Year in more festively…

I decided I’d also show you folks the results of doing ‘Swan Arms’.  You can see in past pictures on my blog that my arms aren’t as toned as they should and I would like them to be.  Here, you can see they are starting to look better!  🙂

As you all may have guessed, I adore the Ballet Beautiful workout to pieces.  PIECES!  Well, I have been keeping my resolution by doing varied combinations of Mary Helen’s workouts every day.  I will give myself a day or two of rest when I need it, so no burn-outs here. 🙂  Maybe by the end of this year, I’ll have an amazingly pretty-ful picture of moi.  Well, tolerably pretty.

Cheers!!

xoxo,

-Cathie-