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.

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

 

Sun-Kissed {Tips for Beautiful Summer Hair & Skin}…

Hello readers,

Todays’ post comes from the lovely Michelle, who is the manager of award-winning Skaná Spa at the Turning Stone Resort in upstate New York –which looks so gorgeous and relaxing from the pictures, that I hope I will stay there someday!!

When she emailed me with the idea of sharing some easy, all-natural treatments to combat our beloved sun’s sometimes harsh effects on both hair and skin, I knew I wanted to learn more –and I’m sure you do too!  We are all aware of using sunscreen, hats and parasols, (Ok, so no one uses them anymore unless they’re at fancy events and weddings, except yours truly, but who cares?!) but taking it one step further ensures that not only do we pamper ourselves, but all the extra TLC that we give ourselves now means healthier, enviable hair, and more resilient, youthful skin as we age gracefully.  🙂

***

Hair:

Although summer is one of the best seasons of the year to show off your fabulous hair when having fun in the sun, it can also be the most damaging. Between days spent in the heat and use of flat irons and curlers, hair can easily become dry and brittle in the warmer seasons if not protected. It’s important to maintain the luster and shine of your mane with a few practices that will guarantee nourished and beautiful hair all season long.
Summer Braid...With excessive use of chemicals and hair products on your luscious locks, it can cause build up to occur, affecting the degree of volume and shine. Free your hair of damaging chemicals and products by using 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 3 cups of water. Lavish the mixture into the hair and rinse out entirely to ensure the hair is cleaner and feels lighter.

Just as the body needs vitamins, hair does as well. Infuse your lovely locks with protein to increase its strength and prevent future breakage or damage. Simply mix a packet of dry gelatin into hot water until it dissolves, then massaging it in hair for 30 minutes, which will provide enough time for it to be infused with amino acids and glycine. The process is not only quick, but affordable.

The humidity often increases with rising temperatures in the summer, most commonly one of hair’s worst enemies. All volume and shape can quickly become lost, making it difficult to stay confident and feel beautiful. Use flat beer to liven up your locks and add a generous amount to allow it to sit for 15 minutes. The yeast, barley, and hops in the beverage will make them strong again. Another alternative is mixing half of a cup of flat beer, a raw egg, and a tablespoon of sunflower oil while allowing it to sit and soak in for 15 minutes. Simply rinse and you’ll notice that your hair will become more powerful against the heat without falling flat.

For those with fine or thinning hair, give it a boost with some natural ingredients that are free of chemicals or toxins. Use a moisturizing mask with a few household products that include a banana, egg, and some oils to restore the hair back to its original condition and infuse it with plenty of vitamins and nutrients.

Fight back against the summer heat by taking care of your hair to ensure that it remains full, thick, and complete with shine. Use natural hair masks and moisturizers with simple household products to ensure your hair is treated its absolute best.

Skin:
Niagara Falls Garden

1.) Chill out: . A cool shower after excess sweating can help keep the skin calm, decreasing acne breakouts.  This can also help prevent further drying out of skin.
2.)  During the summer months, use a scrub on dry skin before you shower.  Pay special attention to knees and elbows. And finish with a thick body cream.
3.) Cantaloupe is the melon of choice for beautiful summer skin.  They are rich in antioxidants and delivers a unique hydration to the skin.
4.) Power of Strawberries:  Cut a large strawberry in half, take a fork and poke at the flesh to awaken the juices, then swipe it across your face in small circles. Leave it on for about two minutes, then rinse off. This can brighten and help even skin tone.
5.) Quick Yogurt Mask: The lactic acid in plain yogurts impact the skin with calming and soothing benefits. Leave it on for 30 minutes as a mask before taking a cool shower and patting dry.
Whether you like having golden-toasted skin, or you are fighting desperately to keep your paler tones unsuccessfully (aka me), enjoy the sun safely and beautifully!
xoxo,
— Miss 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.)