Your Best Period Ever – My 3 Must-Have Products

This post may have been around 27 years in the making but I’m pretty sure I’ve finally figured out how to make my monthly period as ‘minimally disruptive’ as possible. (That was actually a really hard sentence to construct as it doesn’t really work saying “make my monthly period as ‘awesome‘ as possible”, or “as ‘fab‘ as possible lol. So, minimally disruptive it is!

I’ve been more active this year than ever before in my adult life (thanks F45 Massey!), which has been amazing, however, maintaining attendance at HIIT classes during that time of the month when I have my period has presented some challenges. I have been exclusively using a menstrual cup for almost 2 years now and will never switch back to single-use products – the convenience, cost-saving and environmental benefits are simply too great to ignore, but I was having some probs. My first cup had become increasingly uncomfortable – especially when running – and was prone to leaking. I wasn’t prepared to give up on the cup after a year of tampon-freedom so I switched to another brand ……….. and lived happily ever after!

Say Hello to Hello Cup! Made in New Zealand with a much smoother, more ergonomic design than my previous cup, I’m officially a fangirl guys. If you haven’t made the switch to a cup yet, here are some reasons why I love them; you never get caught out without a tampon in your purse or pocket, no trash, more secure when exercising, fewer leaks, more cash in your hand every month! Yay!

Your best period ever

Ok, my next period revelation came two months ago when I was gifted 3 pairs of period underwear by Modibodi. Along with a menstrual cup, period undies were something I swore up and down I would never use – because ew. Sometimes, girlfriends, it’s best to just shut those thoughts down and jump all in and give something a go. Holy moly I’m glad I did because Modibodi have been life-changing for me! I used to have incredibly disturbed sleep during my period as I’d automatically wake multiple times each night to prevent leaks and staining and now I sleep like a baby – until Nixon wakes us up at way-too-early-o’clock but I’ll take what I can get lol. I also have zero reservations about gym workouts. F45 classes are so intense and with such a variety of movements, I’d still often have to do a runner to the bathroom even whilst wearing my cup because leak paranoia is REAL am I right? I LOVE the Modibodi Active Brief under my workout tights. They don’t budge a bit, are super comfy, barely visible and best of all, they give me the peace of mind to just focus on my workout without any compromise on intensity.

Modibodi Period Underwear review

I honestly can’t explain how liberating the combination of my Hello Cup and Modibodi Period underwear is. I don’t dread getting my period anymore. I don’t feel like I can’t go for a run or head to the gym because my flow is too heavy. Yes, these products are SO out of the box for those of us that grew up with only pads or tampons as an option but give them a try, you will NOT be disappointed when they literally change your life!

The third product that I’ve been using over the past two months is the icing on the cake – or the powder in my smoothie to be exact. Women’s Hormone Health Blend by The Wholesome Co is ahhhmazing. I’ve never experienced painful pms symptoms like cramping, but lord, for the past couple of years my ’emotional’ pms symptoms have been ramping up. In other words, 2 days before my period begins I’ve been horrible to live with – moody, emotional, cranky, quick to yell……..ugh.

So far, I’ve noticed two massive benefits of taking the Hormone Health Blend daily;

  1. The emotional roller-coaster around my cycle has slowed down and evened out, to the point where I was even surprised when I got my period last month as I hadn’t been a major bitch in the preceding days! What the?!
  2. The heavy, heavy flow I’ve always experienced on days 2/3 has lessened and, much like my moods (!) evened out. Again this makes working out SO much easier and I am eternally grateful for the change.
The Wholesome Co Hormone Health Blend

Guys, girls, whoever is reading this, I’ve said to a few peeps that 2019 has been a really, really great year for me. I’ve maintained my diet overhaul that happened in 2018, I started working out regularly at F45 (life-changing!) and in general, I feel like I’ve taken control of my life a bit more instead of being a passive passenger along for the ride. Discovering innovative products that are designed to revolutionise the way we as women experience our periods and improve that experience monthly (as well as being environmentally friendly and sustainable) has also been a life-changing experience. Hello Cup, Modibodi undies and addressing the havoc my hormones were playing each month by taking The Wholesome Co. products has removed much of the trepidation and negativity I’ve felt around what is one of the most uniquely female things about me – my monthly period.

The big lesson here? You will probably have your period every month for years AND YEARS AND YEARS. That’s a fact. Can you make it a better experience? The answer is probably yes and if so, then why not try?! It’s 2020 real soon, there is literally no need to be sacrificing comfort, completely normal day-to-day activity nor your hard-earned cash each month simply because you are a woman and you have your period.

Disclaimer: These three products were gifted for review. I have used each for over 2 months before writing this post and am sincere in my review. They are all the bomb!

Facing Facts – Change Hurts.

This post has been kicking around in my head for a while. Fuelled by my body getting used to it’s ‘new normal’ over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what change means in my life and how I’ve finally been able to change the channel and start to get some shit done. For me.

I’m not sure yet whether I can put this down to some epiphany that I may or may not have had around turning 40, I think the timing is coincidental, however, a lot of things definitely fell into place around the end of April this year;

  1. I turned 40
  2. Dave and I went Samoa – sans kids
  3. 6 months of successful keto and 10kg lost
  4. I joined F45

The decade that was my thirties, was tough. We were still adjusting to life in New Zealand, namely the incredible expense of living here, Dave was nearing the end of an apprenticeship, we had very little money, HUGE financial pressure, I endured a missed miscarried which really fucked with my head for a long time, my Dad, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and passed away 9 months later, we purchased our house with my Mum and began 8 years of living as an extended family (which was bloody amazing and I highly recommend it), and we welcomed Nixon to the family – along with his basket of medical complications.

I was a very tired birthday girl when 40 rolled around lol.

When my maternity leave was up after having Nixon I made the choice NOT to go back to working outside the home. This was the first big change in my life. The blog work was becoming more and more steady so I took a gamble and decided to go all-in (compared to now when I feel like I’m pretty much all-out lol). This paid off for around 3 years. I was able to generate a good income, work with some amazing partners and reap the benefits of working at home and being around for the boys. But, there’s always some sacrifice and for me that was my health – both mental and physical. I worked babes and I worked hard. My bum was literally glued to my office chair for 4 years straight, not a pretty sight, and I’d say, living and breathing that insta-life 24-7 had a massively detrimental effect on my already precipitous mental health. All my priorities were jacked up and backwards and I was making zero good decisions. August last year was also when I ripped every tendon in my right ankle and sheared two muscles as a bonus. What exercise? What healthy lifestyle Melissa? Where did these 15 bonus kilos come from?????

August 2018, 79kg. 2 months before starting keto

And so, in October 2018, after hating my body throughout an entire perfect family holiday in the Sunshine Coast (header image), I researched the keto diet and made the second BIG change in my life.

This is when I began to realise that change is some serious shit. And that the kind of change I was looking for was going to require a little more effort than simply going through the motions. I’m not just talking the old ‘lose some weight, physical transformation, #fitspo change, I’m talking ANY serious life change that may creep into your head and fly a flag every now and then. It could be a career change, quitting drinking, personal development, seeking medical attention – whatevs, but, the common denominator is that to successfully implement change, you’re going to have to work, and cry and then work again and again. Over and over.

Oh yeah, and it’s going to be REALLY, REALLY HARD.

I’d been kidding myself for years about my fitness. I could smash out a respectable 5km when needed, I was doing a reasonable amount of walking and I nodded my hat to some healthy food habits – some. But I was also totally full of shit. I knew that running a couple of 5kms each week had zero potential to shift the weight I needed to lose. Yes, it was better than nothing, but for me, it was essentially anaerobic exercise, with zero fat-burning potential. I know enough to read my Fitbit stats and shake my fist at the sky, but I was totally unable/unwilling to slow down and stretch those runs out to at least a 10km to get some fat burning in. To this day I’ve only ever run 10km ONCE.

This was all moot anyway as between August-January 2019 I was unable to exercise at all because of my ankle injury.

However, I was having some diet wins. Hard fought wins ’cause keto is no walk in the park. Putting what you eat under a spotlight and recognising that your ‘healthy’ breakfast and lunch is completely undone by the amount you consume over the 3pm witching hour, your portion size at dinner (of both wine and food!) and then the chocolate bedtime treat you hide in your nightstand is confronting! This is when you feel the hurt and the difficulty of change. It’s literally as simple as what you put in your mouth, duh WE KNOW, but succeeding at a lifestyle change requires changing habits (hard), changing your attitude towards food (hard), learning and educating yourself around your WHY and also HOW to implement these changes (hard and time-consuming), changing the way you feel about and deal with food in social situations (publicly hard) and then staying the course – hardest.

I had the best summer last year. I am the least body-positive person in the world and honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be on that bandwagon, but, I’d been working on those keto changes and what I did have for the first time in YEARS, was control. I felt in control of my eating, in control of how I looked and how I felt, and in control of future Melissa – I was on track, I knew where I wanted to be and I had a plan in place. God that felt good! Control and change saw me swimming at the beach more than I had in probably the past 10 years combined! It was liberating and fun and the mental load of such a massive change in diet was beginning to lessen as new habits solidified.

I found an amazing acupuncturist who, after a couple of months of intense work healed my ankle, so after Dave and I returned from Samoa it was go-time. Time to get to work with F45. For me, this was the hardest change of all. Keto was a mind game that I was ready and open to – it also helps that I love the food so I don’t feel deprived. Exercise, however, especially group exercise is where it hurt. I have joined so many gyms……….and quit. Purchased home exercise equipment………….and never used it, joined boot camps……….never to return, I was not at all convinced in my ability to keep showing up.

And guys, F45 is F*cKing HARD. It hurts. This is a change that physically HURTS. For weeks. The realisation that my muscles were working and functional after such a long period of neglect was great and it reminded me every second of every day how much I needed to keep going. BUT IT HURT SO BAD. It hurt during class when I would feel like throwing up and that my lungs were going to explode, it hurt when my arms hated myself so much for introducing this burpee nonsense to my life, it hurt when I discovered there is something worse than a burpee – the half burpee. But, after 6 weeks I started to feel the mental shift in my attitude towards classes. I wasn’t sitting in my car until the very last minute, I wasn’t hating every second, I wasn’t wondering every day if I’d be able to make myself go back again the next day. New habits were forming and it felt good!

I’m four months deep in this F45 Massey madness and the results blow me away every day, but for me, the biggest success is that I keep showing up. I literally high-five myself every morning for just getting through that door. That’s how hard this has been for me, and I’m still proud as hell for just getting my ass there lol.

I guess what I’m rambling on about is this; if change is what you want, how hard are you prepared to work for it either mentally or physically? Because I know now, that for me if it’s not hard as hell and if it’s not hurting me in the form of mental discipline or sacrifice or muscle fatigue, then quite simply, nothing is going to change – the proof is in the static life I had been living for the past decade.

It sounds ridiculously hardcore (it’s not really!) but put it in context; I’m not training for an IronMan here, I was just an overweight housewife who had been kidding herself for years about the effort she had dedicated to positive change and self-improvement.

And then I decided to do something about it.

And it hurt!

Buying Shares 101: This. Is It.

Big news ahead guys.  BIG news.

Before you get too deep in this blog, catch up on how our family has been getting started with Sharesies so far this year; Post 1 > My kids have a share portfolio, Post 2 > Set and Forget – Investing just got easier.

Homework done?  Righto New Zealand families, let’s level up our investing!

When I was at Auckland Uni 20 years ago, I worked for years at a small owner-operated burger bar in Ponsonby you may have heard of, Burger Fuel??? Yeah. It’s quite yum aye?  Anywho, as employees, we were offered preferential purchase of shares when they listed publicly for the first time.  I remember seriously considering the option to buy and then remembering the seriousness of my lack of disposable income as a Master’s student.  I don’t regret many things in my life but taking a chance on a company I knew and loved is something I wish I had prioritised. Hindsight, they say lol.

I didn’t know how to begin investing when I was a student, nor did I know how to begin investing last year when I was a 39-year-old married mother of two.  Oh, how times have changed! Learning the ropes and taking some baby steps through the Sharesies portal during the past few months has been an easy, common sense and seriously accessible way to diversify our family’s ongoing savings.

Our Sharesies portfolios have been growing (helped along by the auto-invest functionality) and just this month, a new investment opportunity has been launched by the Sharesies team.  Everyday Kiwis like you and me can now buy individual shares in publicly listed companies via our Sharesies accounts – just like big-time investors do!

We’ve got some bucket list trips we want to do with the boys (big, expensive trips i.e. South America) so I’m starting to get a savings plan in place.  I’ve got my brand new copy of The Barefoot Investor lined up in the nightstand reading pile, and I am going to kick-start our next trip fund by pulling some money out of our low-interest bank accounts and buying some individual shares – for the first time ever!

Once I started looking at which companies were listed on the NZX, I began to get a little excited.  Some immediately grabbed my attention as they are companies I’ve either worked for or am a customer of – and putting my money with a brand I have an existing relationship with feels right to me.  Other options just make me excited because of their growth potential, ergo, my savings growth potential lol.  Lucky for us novice investors, the historical info provided on Sharesies is presented in an easy to understand, very visual way on my dashboard. 

Ethan (year 10) is saving hard right now for a new computer and wants to time his purchase around his birthday at the end of the year. The ‘upward trending’ graphs of certain investments are proving attractive to him, as well as the fact that he can sell shares, or fractions of shares, whenever he decides is right for him i.e. when he finds the best deal on his computer!

Buying shares feels like one of those ‘grown-up’ situations that mark certain, weird little moments in my life.  I felt this way when we purchased our first brand new king size bed, a new oven to replace the existing one (like, WTH, did our family just ‘wear out’ an oven???), and oddly when we lost our much-loved family dog last week to old age and illness. 

But,  investing is a very positive, grown-up thing to do.  I think the reason buying individual shares via Sharesies feels so different from purchasing managed funds or ETFs as I’ve previously done on the platform, comes down to one word – control.  I can invest exactly where I want, in amounts that are exactly right for me and our goals as a family.

Love it!

Our initial  Sharesies investments in ETFs and managed funds were an awesome way to dip our toes in and get our heads around putting our money somewhere other than a savings account. But now that Sharesies is an NZX participant, I’m totally inspired to diversify our savings even further and I’m so stoked that the boys and I can do it via the easy platform we are already used to.

Buying Shares

I’m legit excited about what this means for other Kiwi Mums, Dads and kids. Access to investment opportunities like this has not been available in NZ before, which is why Sharesies (and I) are so excited about this.  My first official trade was a ‘green’ one which was cool!  I purchased just over 140 shares in NZ Windfarms and the Sharesies transaction fee was only $0.10 – other providers could have charged up to $30 per trade!

Sharesies is removing many of the barriers to investing with their unique platform, letting everyday Kiwis like me invest whatever they can afford.  Over time I’m convinced this will usher in a fresh perspective on how we all think about ‘money in the bank.’

Part 1: Making my mental health and wellbeing a priority

I was listening to a podcast about stress the other day whilst driving. As with other episodes I have listened to also published by the uber-empire that is Gwynnie Paltrow’s GOOP, I found myself waiting (wanting?) to hit that cringe-worthy moment, which would spell the end of GP in my ears for good. My own personal ‘vaginal steaming’ moment if you will.

But like all prior attempts to exorcise GOOP from my podcast subscriptions, it was not to be. The content is too good yo. The episode was a live discussion with author Emily Nagoski around the reason why women experience stress differently to men. There were so many takeaways for me from the podcast, but what spoke to me most, was the concept of our ‘Inner Madwomen’.

In a nutshell, Nagoski posits that there are three perceptions of self that any woman may experience simultaneously. The first is our ‘real’ self. In my case, the wife, mother, daughter, sister, chairwoman, friend, self-employed content creator who lives in Auckland, New Zealand, has two dogs and doesn’t eat carbs. This, ‘actual’ Melissa suffers from depression, anxiety is quite forgetful, needs more sleep, procrastinates, feels like she is constantly in the weeds and failing at a lot of things.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the fictional ‘Melissa’. She is perfect. Super organised, creative, spontaneous, fit, flawless, gorgeous, inspiring, a wonderful mother and the most amazing wife. She gets everything done and does it well. She is beyond capable, reliable and never feels overwhelmed or panicked by obligation.

In between, sits my ‘Inner Madwoman’. “She is crazy because her job is impossible” says Nagoski. Reconciling our current state of self with the artificial, aspirational self is a fool’s errand. I, Melissa, am a mortal human woman and will never achieve the lofty heights of Instagram-Perfection, every moment curated and crafted with intent, mindfulness and great passion. Mates, I’m sliding into bed (usually unmade) each night after a glass or two of wine and a sink of ignored dishes, an inbox of ignored emails next to a husband who I’m sure would like to feel a little ‘less’ ignored then he currently does.

And this is where the Mad Woman goes to town. All of those tiny little daily failings become weapons with which to berate ourselves internally, over and over again as we never seem to get any closer to that aspirational, zen goddess in our heads which we’ve been telling ourselves for years that we must keep striving to be! Another appointment forgotten ” You are so pathetic Melissa, how many diaries and calendars do you have?”, another date cancelled with friends, “It’s a wonder you get invited anywhere, you’re no fun and no-one can rely on you”, another night of yelling at bedtime, “that child deserves a better mother than you”……….trust me, my Inner Madwoman has quite the repertoire, she’s been going hard for a long time.

The point of all of this (I think!) is how a little bit of recognition and enlightenment when it comes to these three selves, can go along way towards some BIG internal changes.

Silencing the Inner Madwoman is not the goal – listening to her, using her insight and thanking her is what I’ve started doing and the benefits are compounding.

Here’s one example of how a little change is having a positive impact for me, every day.

For almost 2 years, since my last major depressive episode (brought about by an external stressor which I never acknowledged), I have been really struggling in the mornings. A real, irrefutable difficulty in getting out of bed and starting the day is very common amongst those who suffer from depression. For me, it became a nasty cycle of blaming it on being too tired, so I’d sleep in, letting Dave get the boys up, make breakfast, pack lunches, bring me coffee and more often than not, take Nixon to school. Sounds inherently lazy right? Cool, add that one to the Madwomen’s list of things to feel guilty about! Does it make it easier to understand if I describe the feeling of staying in bed as a basic desire for the day NOT to begin rather than the feeling of luxuriating in bed simply because one can?

It’s impossible to describe what depression feels like in one blog post so you’re just going to have to trust me. My problems begin to snowball when the guilt kicks in. Inner Madwoman would kick things off by telling me what a piece of shit I was for not being able to get up at 6 am like Dave, WTF is so hard about making perfect bento boxes for Nixon’s lunch as the other IG mums do hmmmm? Dave is such a better parent then you are Melissa, no-one would even notice if you weren’t around so you might as well just stay in bed and sleep. Go on, you’re so tired…..

So how on earth did I turn this awful cycle of mental flagellation around?

Well, it’s totally a work in progress and babes, I won’t be saying sayonara to my prescription anytime soon, but, I think I can pinpoint a couple of things that have really helped improve my day-to-day mental wellbeing.

The first is listening to and acknowledging what that inner critic is trying to communicate instead of running from it – or sleeping from it as the case may be! Though her methods are irrational (remember her job is impossible), I have realised that this is how my subconscious communicates with me, via my worst enemy who lives in my head!

Resetting my morning routine had been weighing on my mind for a long time, and was as important to my mental health as it was to my family in general. Identifying and acknowledging this has been key. Over the past month, I have set my alarm for 6.15am, I have responded to the alarm (also key lol), I have decided to maximise and RECLAIM those 2 hours before the boys begin school in a way that sets me up for a great/better/more productive day ahead.

And, it’s working.

And, it’s helped me realise that a HUGE amount of the stress I feel (resulting in anxiety and depressive episodes) stems from time management and procrastination.

But this blog post is already way too long so let’s save discussing that for Part Two.

PS. Just remember, I’m talking about my own experiences here. I just need to get this shit out of my head and I’m making no claims that any of this may be useful or helpful to anyone else xx

PPS. Thanks to Lisa for telling me to get writing again x

Beauty Review: Dermapen 4 – My BEST skin ever

One month exactly until I hit the ‘magic’ milestone that is 40 years old, and I’m sliding in to that big birthday with skin that I’m in love with right now.

The past 12 months have definitely seen an increased investment in time, money and basically, just, attention to my skin.  I’ve simply stopped being so lazy, I’ve made washing my makeup off at night a more frequent occurrence than ‘never’, I’ve religiously applied sunscreen to my face every day and I’ve been open to experiencing a broader of skin treatments than lovely (but basic, let’s be honest) facials.

The fab team at Clinic 42 have been putting in the hard yards over the past 6 months, guiding me through a series of treatments and I’m seeing the results increase incrementally after each appointment.

To be clear, I’m talking skin treatments here, not injectables (you can read my opinion piece on Botox here).

We kicked things off with a series of three medical peels to exfoliate and brighten my complexion in a non-invasive way.  I saw amazing results using varying combinations/layering of acids, but be prewarned, this is a peel program in which your skin WILL peel.  This didn’t bother me too much and the skin turnover time was around 5 days, but, based on that, a medical peel may not be for everyone.

Next on the therapeutic menu, the most magical thing that’s ever happened to my skin – Dermapen 4. Launched in April 2018, the latest device from the market leader in microneedling is available as a treatment from Clinic 42 (read more here) and my face and I were next in line.

beauty-review-nz-dermapen-4-microneedling

What is Microneedling?

Microneedling, at its most basic level involves using a physical device to repeatedly puncture the skin via many tiny needles.  The goal/benefits are two-fold; the ‘micro-damage’ caused by the needles initiates a repair response from the body, resulting in increased production of collagen and elastin.  Secondly, the channels created by the needles deliver topicals deeper into the skin when applied after a microneedling treatment.

Sweet!  I’ll just buy a dermal-roller and get on with this at home, right?

Oh please NO.

Let’s think about this; needles going into anyone’s skin shouldn’t be re-used, ever ::::shudder:::: and secondly, a miniature rolling pin covered in needles is not exactly a precise instrument.  Needles in this instance enter the skin at an angle, which can cause tearing and increased (unnecessary) irritation.

A Dermapen 4 treatment on the other hand, is professionally administered, controlled, hygienic and precise.  The 16 tiny needles in a Dermapen 4 cartridge enter the skin vertically resulting in minimum trauma, pain and skin recovery.

Why I Love Dermapen 4

  • Treatment is FAST.  I’m in and out of Clinic 42 in 45 minutes.
  • Pain?  Barely.  There is some, but it’s mainly concentrated in specific areas.  I find my forehead the most tender, but, as you may have seen on Instagram, I’ve filmed the entire process holding my phone so it can’t be that bad!
  • Recovery is fast!  After 24hrs, I find all tenderness and redness has gone.
  • The results are too good to ignore.  Dermapen 4 is recommended for treatment of a myriad of skin concerns from fine lines to scarring, age spots, stretch marks, hyperpigmentation and more, the first thing I noticed was a reduction in the size of pores on my nose – something that had been increasingly bothering me for years.  Secondly, after one treatment an annoying, bright red burst capillary on the tip of my nose completely disappeared and finally, the resurfacing/retexturizing effect of Dermapen treatments is UNBELEIVABLE.  Seriously, wind-back-the-clock good.  I have never been happier with my skin than I am now as I stand on the grim precipice of 40 – JOKES, I’m pumped about my birthday, this next decade is going to be amazing I can feel it!

The confidence I feel is also due to the implicit trust I have in the team at Clinic 42.  Both Doctors and Nurses alike and incredibly knowledgeable, professional, warm and welcoming.  An appointment here is something I look forward to and my fab partnership with the clinic as I share my skin journey with you is an added bonus on top of the fantastic results I am seeing month by month.

The Outdated Construct of Ageing Gracefully and Why it’s Time to Let it Go

Despite the new era of Fake News in which we now find ourselves living, there is a lot of ‘truth telling’ happening across social media as well as in traditional media (the latter to a lesser degree I would argue).  The ever-increasing conversations around mental health, suicide, rape, sexual harassment, gender equality and diversity and body positivity are undeniably having transformative effects on the way certain populations identify themselves and others.  What’s not to love about that?  But, there remain innumerable ideals and standards imposed upon us that persist in drawing a line in the sand – you’re either THIS, or THAT, you look like THIS, ergo, you are THAT, you do THIS, therefore, you can’t be THAT.

As humans we seem hard-wired in many aspects of our thinking to lean towards such binary oppositions, to latch on to mutually exclusive notions that preclude any possibility of a sliding scale or spectrum within the constructs (whatever they may be) ourselves and others choose to identify with.

I’d only recently discovered a new Instagram fave, the12ishstyle by Katie Sturino, when my jaw hit the floor whilst reading comments on a post detailing her recent Botox appointment.

New Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Botox Beauty Review

Many of Sturino’s followers could have cared less about her regular Botox treatments, or simply ignored them altogether, opting instead to obsess over her earrings.  But for others, this post was construed as completely undermining every single body positive post that had gone before it.  The commentary concurred that @the12ishstyle “looked like all the other women now” (really???  Is that kinda like saying all Asians look the same?  cue, “I’m not a racist, but………”), that she had let them down and they were unfollowing, that her views on body positivity couldn’t possibly be relevant because of her choice to use Botox.

Ummmmm, WITAF.

Body positivity is acceptance and appreciation of all human body types.[1][2] It is a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, and be accepting of their own bodies as well as the bodies of others.[3] The movement sets forth the notion that beauty is a construct of society, and poses that this construct should not infringe upon one’s ability to feel confidence or self-worth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity

As far as I can tell, there are no caveats in that definition, no proviso that says “well, I can be accepting of the bodies of others so long as they don’t have tattoos, or stretch marks, or coloured hair, or botox, or microbladed eyebrows…..”.  It is pretty irrefutable that beauty is a construct of society as the definition states.  However, the assumption that any ‘body mods’ a person undertakes are a result of chasing the prescriptive beauty ‘norm’ is a dangerous one that leads to massive generalisation and marginality in the way we understand choices people make around their own bodies.

I have very prominent tattoos, 3 of them.  There was not one single outside influence responsible for any of them except the death of my father.  I’m not a member of some underground counter-culture, gang, or punk band, I simply think they’re beautiful, and if I’m honest, I’m impulsive.  If I feel like getting a new tattoo, I’ll get one.  Life is short, do the damn thing.

I feel the same way about my botox treatments – which I’ve been having for around 7 years.  The initial impetus was nothing to do with a fear of ageing, of obsessing over ever-increasing wrinkles or a desire to look ‘perfect’, lord knows that’s never going to happen and I could care less.  The reason I choose to have Botox injections (or Dysport, whatever) is that my natural countenance is the very definition of Resting Bitch Face.  The muscles in my forehead pull my frown lines together so tightly, creating such magnificent ruts that you could literally crack an almond between my eyebrows.  I was sick of looking like I was perpetually furious.

Though, because we are so attuned to accepting other’s bodies, and hence the choices one might make surrounding said body, I shouldn’t have to explain this to anyone right?

Wrong.  ‘You do you Boo’ and everything that is fabulous and really quite poignant about this seemingly throwaway, viral phrase doesn’t seem to apply if you’re over 35 and heading down the road of Ageing Gracefully.

As au naturel and simplistic as Aging Gracefully sounds, it’s just another beauty construct, one that effectively marginalizes and throws some pretty negative shade on anyone that veers off the rather narrow path of what is ‘acceptable’.  Creating blueprints and constructs (which is exactly what ‘Aging Gracefully’ is) around what women wear, how they should behave, what they should look like and what they do to their own bodies, is DONE.  Really, really DONE.

I use Dysport to combat frown lines that make small children scared, does that mean I’m not ageing gracefully?  Apparently yes.  Obviously, whoever first coined that phrase has not seen me juggle my Mum Life with work, family, friends and a massive volunteer role in our community.  I’m the very definition of grace people, I’m literally a gazelle leaping across the savannah.  It takes more than blunt force and a stubborn temperament to keep all of those balls in the air.  It requires grace and finesse.

Visiting Dr Ellen Selkon at Clinic 42 is a refreshing experience in a safe, judgement free zone.  She is the fourth cosmetic medicine practitioner I’ve visited over the years, but the first one that skipped over the part where all of my facial imperfections that ‘can be fixed’ have been pointed out – I loved her immediately for this!  For me, Botox and the discussion around it are like anything – it all comes down to personal choice.  I choose it because it has had a profoundly positive effect on the way I feel about my appearance as well as my day-to-day interactions with others.  Put it this way, I don’t get asked ‘what’s wrong?’ multiple times per day as a result of a perpetual scowl that no amount of yoga and meditation was ever going to iron out.  

To answer the most common questions about Botox;

  • Does it hurt?  Barely.  Think tiny pin-pricks.  The needle is in and out in seconds and I feel no residual pain.
  • Does your face even move now?  It sure does, I pretty much have full movement and expression when I raise my eyebrows like everyone else.  The difference is in my resting expression.  The big furrows between my brows are much smoother and relaxed.
  • Is it an ongoing treatment?  Yes.  Each treatment lasts between 3-4 months and I always book ahead to keep on track.  Since I’ve been vigilant around maintaining a regular appointment schedule, I’ve noticed increased efficacy of the treatments. 
  • Will people notice?  Not if your Doctor is amazing!  Friends might just think your skin health has improved or that you look well rested.  You WILL notice though and that’s what matters.

It’s 2018.  We have more freedom, more options, more solutions to the minutiae of problems/challenges/minor or major grievances we face in everyday life and that is the beauty of choice.  Choosing NOT to judge others, choosing to focus on oneself without projecting personal agendas on others, choosing to accept and respond positively to the body image of everyone we meet……….this is what ageing gracefully means to me.  It’s not a measure of outward beauty, rather a mindset of self-acceptance and acceptance of others combined with the inherent knowledge of when to hold one’s tongue!  Commentary around Ageing Gracefully, even if prefaced with “I’m not judging those who do….”  is unnecessary and dated, and creates a very exclusionary dialogue which is, quite frankly, boring and one-sided.  If it’s your position that I (or anyone else) am not Ageing Gracefully because of Botox then perhaps you need a little reminder that it is in fact, no business of yours anyway.

Beauty Review – Skip the Extensions, commit to Revitalash

An impulsive morning at the mall late last year, fuelled by an innate desire to be ‘sans kids’ for as long as possible, saw me agree to eyelash extensions after I had already upgraded my manicure to a bikini wax. Worst beauty mistake of my life. Though I declined the ‘sexy eyes’ option, I still left the mall looking like I’d gotten a bit lost on my way home from Carnival in Brazil.  They were so absurd that I was unable to wear sunglasses as my mammoth, plastic, spidery lash extensions meant the lenses were offset so far from my face, the frame was no longer able to rest on my nose. I raced home and gave them a good trim (it felt like cutting fishing line!) then set about trying to remove them.  This was impossible, probably due to the superglue it felt like they’d been applied with, so I found a ‘reputable salon’ and had the awful things removed safely. My lashes were damaged, so after a couple of months recovery, I gave extensions another whirl.  I did love them, they look gorgeous when they are quality lashes applied by a professional, but, the upkeep is time-consuming and expensive.  Even worse, I’m a picker, so as soon as they looked a little scraggly I found it hard to keep my fingers away from them, always trying to lift them away from my poor natural lashes, which inevitably were often pulled out with the extension.
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I decided it was time to wean myself off expensive extensions so, rather than spending $120 on another set of lashes, I purchased a two month supply of Revitalash for the same amount. Guys;  it works and it’s essentially the easiest, no-hassle step you could add into your daily beauty routine. One tiny swipe of the teeny Revitalash brush across your lash line once a day and you’re done. The secret is consistency. Stick with your application every day and your lashes will love you for it – and you’ll love them. I first noticed the difference after around 6 weeks of regular use and I haven’t looked back. Once I noticed the length improving I also noticed less lash fall.
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I currently still have a couple of ‘stubbies’ that are re-growing after losing them during the extension debacle and they are my yardsticks lol. They keep growing and growing but their neighbours do too! I am committed to my natural lashes now and the combination of Revitalash and a 6 weekly lash lift and tint is both cheaper, less time consuming and with results that look equally amazing as a set of extensions (IMO!). The Revitalash range is expanding and now includes lash, brow and hair-care products including a new Micellar water which I’ve been using over the past two weeks. Suitable for both natural lashes and extensions (many micellar waters aren’t) this is the holy grail of mascara and eye makeup removal. Less mess, less fuss and less product resulting in a quick, nourishing way to achieve fresh, clean lashes. Find Revitalash at authorised beauty stockists nationwide or visit them online at www.revitalash.co.nz Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner RRP from $75 Revitalash Micellar Water RRP $54
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Beauty Review – Dermalogica ProSkin 60 Facial

In 2018 there is no shortage of ways to spend your money when it comes to beauty treatments.   In fact, deciding on which treatment is right for you and identifying a professional salon or clinic can easily make the whole exercise fall into the too-hard-basket faster than you can say ‘pass the serum’.

I headed over the bridge last week to Bare Waxing and Skin Centre to experience one of Dermalogica’s latest professional skin therapy treatments, the ProSkin 60 Facial, which launched in salons in May 2018.  This is not a one-size-fits-all experience.  Both of the ProSkin treatments (60 or 30 minutes) are bespoke.  Customised to address individual needs and concerns, this 6 step skin journey is one I highly recommend you take!

As far as I’m concerned, a splurge on a facial is a no-brainer, providing the most bang for your beauty buck.  They have the potential to deliver some powerful results, plus, are inherently relaxing, they usually include some massage and can profoundly affect the way I feel afterwards.  I LOVE how my skin looks after a facial – come at me selfies!

My skin therapist (hereafter referred to as Gemma-with-the-magic-hands) began with a Dermalogica fave – the double cleanse.  This was a timely reminder to reintroduce Precleanse Balm to my daily routine as I’ve been rushing through this important step in the shower.  For me, this is where the magical, relaxing powers of a facial really begin.  Cleansing your skin for minutes, rather than seconds, not only increases efficacy but is also a little meditative, a little time to relax………. every day in your own shower.  We can do that, right mamas?

After an extensive skin analysis, we moved on to step two – resurfacing.  Gemma-with-the-magic-hands added lactic acid to the physical exfoliant which my skin just LOVES.  This is where the bespoke nature of ProSkin treatments is so valuable, my skin is robust and hardy, not thinning at all, so it can handle a fairly extensive exfoliation.  This would definitely not be suitable as a universal application, which is why entrusting your skin to the hands of only a professional skin therapist is SO important!

My skin was under steam this entire time so the deep treatment and masque that was applied next literally sank into my thirsty skin.  Gemma had already identified dehydration as an area of concern in the analysis and I could notice the improvement immediately after treatment.  Lush, hydrated skin instantly!

The final steps are Touch Therapies – beautiful facial, scalp, shoulder and décolleté massage and dermal layering – literally everything your skin needs to head out into the world looking its best.

I LOVED this treatment.  ProSkin 60 was comprehensive, deliciously relaxing and indulgent but most importantly, it was incredibly effective.  My skin looked amazing, more hydrated than I’d ever seen it, soft with improved texture and the most minimised pores ever.  The skin analysis alone, combined with Gemma’s ‘prescription’ at the end was invaluable to me.  I’m a bit of a product junkie and she very quickly identified that one of my faves may not be as beneficial to my skin as I’d been thinking – that’s why it pays to see a skin therapist when you can.

To experience ProSkin 60 or 30 for yourself, head to www.dermalogica.co.nz to find your nearest Platinum Skin Centre.

Fitbit Versa: My Winter #Fitspo

Nevermind how truthful such statements might be, I’ve never been one to live and die by mantras such as;

Summer bodies are made in winter.

The facts are, the gym and I aren’t ever going to be friends and my natural inclination to hibernate during winter is strong so, if there is a season in which all good intentions fall off the wagon – winter is it.

Despite this, the past few months have been revelatory for me, and it all kicked off with a throwaway comment during lunch with a friend.  We were discussing the frustrations of living with our middle-aged-mum bodies and the struggle of deciphering what advice/diets/workout plans we should or shouldn’t be prescribing to.  I’m not running at the moment (more on that later!) but mentioned to my friend that monitoring your heart rate during workouts was a good way to ensure your activity matched whatever goals you might be working towards.  This was a lightbulb moment for me as I remembered the Fitbit functionality that automatically maps your heart rate zones during exercise.  Right now, I want to be burning fat during workouts and maintaining an (almost) daily exercise routine – that means power walking.  6kms per day, around an hour, putting me in the fat burning zone for approx 50 mins and tracking this daily on my Fitbit app.

Put simply, moving and doing it more often are my top priorities.

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I love checking in with my Fitbit app or the desktop site to see the results of my daily walks – in the zone baby!

The past 6 weeks have seen me create space in my day that I didn’t think I had, and dedicate that time to myself.  Exercising has to be a non-negotiable part of my routine and I think I’ve finally arrived at that sweet spot where the habit is sticking, yay!

I’m a total magpie and LOVE my gadgets so no surprises that the latest Fitbit iteration, Versa (RRP $349.95) caught my eye – as they always do – and I was excited to review it.  There’s a lot to be said for the persuasive power of measurement and accountability and as I’ve been a Fitbit user for years now I know first hand how effective wearable tech can be when it comes to keeping you on track.  I definitely lean towards Fitbit’s fully functional range, loving the multitude of features in the Ionic (built in GPS) and now the Versa.

What I LOVE about the New Fitbit VersaNew Zealand's Top Travel Lifestyle Blog Home Decor Fitbit Versa Review

  • The battery life is awesome.  Specs say ‘over 4 days of battery life’ and this is legit.  Plus, the new charger is the best Fitbit charger yet, secure and FAST.
  • Slim profile.  Guys, let’s face it if you don’t need a built-in GPS then why pay for one or make room for one in your watch?  When I’m running (soon, baby!), I love the accuracy of the Ionic, but, you pay for this in size.  The Versa is gorgeous, no joke.  It’s all slim and curvy and is super comfy to wear.  10/10 for design.
  • Water-resistant to 50m!!! yus.  I’m no swimmer but Mum life dictates I’m washing dishes, laundry, dogs and children multiple times per day and as a Rugby mum (and Rugby Club Captain) I’m out in the weather a LOT.  I’ve always been a little bit precious about my Fitbits getting wet so love that my faves, Versa and ionic are both water resistant.
  • Improved sync:  I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t use one of the big 2 phone brands (currently Huawei Mate 10 Pro),  but sometimes syncing was a bit iffy with previous Fitbit products.  The Versa syncs easily and quickly with my on-phone app which makes me soooo happy as my Fitbit dashboard is life!  
  • It’s just SO pretty.  This is a BABE watch team, that just so happens to look equally good on both men and ladies.
  • Fitbit app.  I’ve been using this for years and it just gets better and better.  I’m loving the addition of the Female Health module, which is helping me track my period – and associated moods (gasp!), plus I’m becoming more and more aware of how important it is for me to consciously increase the amount of sleep I’m getting each night.  The Fitbit app tracks sleep beautifully and provides such great feedback and info that you seriously can’t help but want to do better for your body and your life in general.

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How I’m staying motivated this winter

  • Using my Fitbit Versa as my support team and my coach.  Gyms don’t work for me, being personally accountable DOES.
  • Podcasts are GO.  I can easily smash out my hour-long walk by zoning out and listening to some awesome content.  I use Podcast Player on my android phone and some of my faves are; Death in Ice Valley, Fat Mascara, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, The Minimalists, This Sounds Serious.
  • Doing less gives you time for more.  I’ve stopped saying YES to other peoples demands so I have more time for what I need to do – which is scheduling exercise for my mental and physical health.  Blocking off 1 hour per day for me is NOT a sacrifice, it’s something that positively impacts my life and has a flow on effect on my family.
  • Embrace the weather and prepare for it.  Winter sucks, winter in Auckland sucks more.  Walking in wild, winter weather is kinda liberating.  Embrace it, wear a hat so the rain stays out of your eyes, put a jacket on and go for it.  Letting go of excuses is priming me for great things I can feel it!

I’m so pumped on my daily walks right now, I’d love to know how you’re pushing through during this awful weather and getting your workouts in,  leave me a comment below if you’d like to share!

PS – Versa also has on-screen workouts so if dodging hail isn’t your thing, squeeze in a 10-minute ab workout while you’re hibernating with Netflix!  

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Creating a Healthful Morning Routine

I’ve been working hard on improving my morning routine over the summer and I’m happy to share it with you in conjunction with Harraway’s new Oat-activ® range.


As we welcome autumn in New Zealand, we are well past the heady, New Year’s enthusiasm of resolutions, good intentions and well-meaning but (perhaps expensive?) ‘motivational’ purchases of workout gear, gym memberships and fitspo apps. Taking stock of which habits have ‘stuck’ over the summer months and which ones can be filed as a ‘flash-in-the-pan’ exercise is an excellent way to move into the season ahead and clear out mental clutter (and any associated guilt lol).

So how do you introduce positive life changes and healthy habits in a way that will ‘stick’?

I have NO idea.

Literally, I got nothing for ya lol.

What I do know is that I’m a 38 year old work-in-progress, constantly battling age, injury – and my old mates’ white toast bread and wine! Dividing my day into morning, afternoon and evenings has helped tackle the massive ‘overwhelm’ that is often associated with implementing any kind of lifestyle change. Putting some thought into small, positive changes I can make to my routine (or lack thereof) across the day has given me the headspace to realise what’s important at various key times, and how awareness leads to positive, lasting change.

My Healthful Morning Routine

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Starting your day off right and figuring out how to do this is a goal across the board I’m guessing? Though this is going to look vastly different for everyone, I’ve found a couple of key tweaks and behaviour mods that have had a lasting impact on my mood, wellbeing and productivity throughout the day.

  • A great day actually begins the night before. Saying no to another episode on Netflix and spending time on a bed-time routine to actively unwind from the day improves my sleep immeasurably.
    What does this actually look like? For me that means TV off and device down at 9.30pm, 500ml of water + magnesium and vitamins, time spent removing makeup (mentally washing the day off), treating my skin with a night serum or cream, brushing my teeth, reading or a sudoku puzzle.
  • Rising early. Getting out of bed has never come easily to me I’ll admit, but over the past 4 months, I’ve discovered that initiating an earlier wake-up time using my phone and Fitbit alarms is paying dividends. I’ve got some mental space to myself before the boys wake-up, an extra 30 minutes does wonders for my productivity and waking of my own volition as opposed to a body slam to the head via Nixon works wonders on my mood! 
  • Getting breakfast right. Sometimes the wheels fall off throughout the day so starting as you mean to continue is an invaluable mental tool. I’ve long been a fan of oats for breakfast, they are delicious, satisfying, inexpensive and easy to prep. The latest oats to hit shelves, Harraway’s Oat-activ® range, can also add cholesterol reducing to their impressive list of health benefits with the combo of added LDL reducing plant sterol + the beta-glucan found in oats. Cholesterol is important to our cells but too much LDL, low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Harraways Oat-activ® hits bad LDL cholesterol with a plant-based ‘double-action’ attack; beta-glucan forms a gel in the digestive tract, binding to excess LDL, blocking the re-absorption of bile acids and removing the mixture as well, while phytosterols extracted from plants are added to the Oat-activ® range in powder form get to work preventing absorption of LDL in the intestines. Busy brekkie is an understatement, right?
    Why stop at breakfast? We’re all privy to a little afternoon nibble, so I like to keep Harraways  Oat-activ® on hand for a convenient, nourishing snack or smoothie booster. For the best results, it’s recommended that you have two Harraways Oat-activ® sachets per day to lower your cholesterol*, so it’s a win-win in my book.
  • Water before coffee – ALWAYS.  My morning coffee is one part of my morning ritual I really look forward to but two tweaks I adhere to now are; 500ml of water before I even lift my coffee mug! Non-negotiable. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of milk so passing on the flat white and saying yes to a long black is now routine and I feel much better for it. 
  • Get outside in the am.  Natural light is the cornerstone of our daily rhythms and contributes massively to our physical and mental wellbeing. Late last year, after a couple of weeks of walking every morning, I noticed how amazing I felt – physically, mentally and emotionally. I was energised (sunlight triggers cortisol), I was happy, my anxiety had disappeared (serotonin stimulation lifts our moods), productivity was up and I was sleeping like a babe as exposure to sunlight was suppressing melatonin expression until I needed it in the evenings. Winning all round!

So that’s what’s working for me so far in 2018.  Five little steps that are easily accessible, require zero subscriptions or outside influence and combined, result in an easy, healthful morning routine that sets me up for the days of working and parenting.

Available in selected Pak N Save & New World supermarkets now in oat singles packs, Harraways Oat-activ® is available in Original or Original with Cranberry flavours. Find out more about the healthful benefits of Oat-activ® here.

*As part of your daily intake of 3g beta-glucan or 2g of plant sterols.

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This post was sponsored by Harraways Oat-activ®