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.

Miss Cathie Reviews: The Ballet Beautiful Method by Mary Helen Bowers

With many women trying after the lean dancer’s physique that Natalie Portman gained while working on the Black Swan, there has been an enormous demand for ballet-inspired and derived workouts.  It’s easy to be skeptical of the hype and faddishness that a “Black Swan” inspired workout might seem to entail however, so why not go straight to Portman’s source?

That is, Ballet Beautiful by Mary Helen Bowers.

MHBJudging by Looks:

Aesthetically, I find Mary Helen’s studio backdrop for her workouts appealing.  It is airy, clean, full of light, and distraction free.  I love that she wears leotards and dance slippers –it makes you feel like you are actually in a dance studio and that you, of course, mean business.  Beautiful business.

How much space does one need, and what about equipment?

The workouts can be done with the barest minimum of space.  As Mary Helen herself says, these workouts are perfect for travelling and all you have for space is a hotel room.  No need to worry about not staying fit while on vacation or business anymore.  I even have her videos on my iPhone, thus eliminating the need for DVDs or a laptop!

Ballet Beautiful Screenshot by Miss Cathie[Screenshot from my personal copy of the Ballet Beautiful DVD]

There is no need for any dance experience or equipment besides a mat, some dance slippers (or non-skid socks) and a water bottle.  All you need is your body!  While Mary Helen is quick to point out that if you need to lean against a table or chair for balance during some of the routines, she uses none herself and I found it easy to follow along without one as well.

Unique and Cutting-Edge!

I love that Mary Helen is taking advantage and making use of both social media and the internet to the very fullest.  She offers live classes at around $40-45.00/class via Skype; you even have the option of booking a private training class.  Who needs to live in the big cities to have a personal fitness trainer?


The workouts promise to give you a toned, lean look as well as emphasising the importance of stretching and good posture.  With a ballet twist or what I call ‘extra step’ in each routine, from reverse push-ups, to leg lifts, to arm toning, there is a fair amount of repetition, ensuring you work those areas to the fullest.  Each exercise is clearly shown, the pace is never rushed but just right, and you are reminded to breathe.  I unintentionally hold my breath while concentrating at times, so that is a helpful reminder for me.  Vocabulary-wise, what’s a ballet routine without learning the language?  You will pick up a lot of ballet phrases, such as plie and dégagé.  Isn’t that nice?

How often should the exercises be done, and does the workout deliver?

Mary Helen suggests that one aims for 1 hour a day, 3 days a week.  If you have extra time or days, those would be perfect for squeezing in some blasts or a full workout if you feel up to the challenge.

I personally felt the results immediately after the workout –exhausted, muscles burning but invigorated, refreshed and floating.  I saw results within 1-2 weeks.  My favourite exercises are her ‘Swan Arms’, and her ‘ballet’ sit-ups – perfect for strengthening and shaping the arms and abs just in time to show off my pretty Christmas frocks.

Remember, determination and perseverance are an important part of your attitude in any regimen.

Which of the two DVDs do I prefer?

I love them both.  The 15 minute one can be mixed and matched depending on which areas you feel like working, but I always end up completing them all –despite the work, it’s fun to push myself.  The 60 minute workout is a complete all-over, and it’s the way to go when you can truly dedicate an hour’s worth of time.

As of this writing, additional cardio is recommended to supplement this routine, but Ballet Beautiful CARDIO streaming videos have recently been added to the BB store –which is perfect when it’s too cold to go outside for a run.  Mary Helen responded to me via Twitter that there will be DVDs for the Cardio workouts soon – but they will feature different videos from the streaming ones available in the e-store.Ballet Beautiful Cardio DVD Promise(I’ve tried the BB CARDIO: Tendu workout.  This requires a little bit more stretching room, but still do-able with minimal space!)

Is there anything not quite ideal about Ballet Beautiful?

I would love to have some very soft music playing in the background.  After all, what’s a ballet workout without the music?  But that is a minor thing, and I often turn the music on in my iPhone before beginning…

This could be a potential biggie:  If you are travelling, and will have poor to no internet access, be aware that the streaming videos available in store are not downloadable.  This means that if you do not have internet connection or own the DVDs, you will have no way of accessing Ballet Beautiful workouts.

The fine print for Ballet Beautiful streaming videos:

–        On the Go! Play from your computer or mobile device (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices all work!) – anywhere that you can get online.

–        Easy to use! After purchasing, just log into Ballet Beautiful, visit “My Account” and click to play! Can be played multiple times with purchase.

(I am still unsure as to whether this means that after a certain number of viewings, access to it will be removed from your account and you will have to repurchase this streaming video to be able to view it again… if it does expire, then this is something to be aware of.  I still have my TENDU workout, but so far, I’ve only viewed it 3 times.)

–        Videos stream on the Ballet Beautiful website! Remember, these are not downloadable videos. Ballet Beautiful workout DVDs are also available in our store!


Ballet Legs[Image via]

I hope this review is helpful and gets you excited to try Ballet Beautiful out for yourself!  If you are in the States, the store is offering free shipping – so now is the perfect time to try it out!  Who knows, they might just be the perfect stocking stuffers for a special someone in your life!

Here’s to good health for the winter holidays!!


Miss Cathie