THE AUGUST PLAYLIST

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I'm clearly very late to posting this as we are well on our way out of August, but this is a taste of what has been on replay for me this month. I'm conflicted as to whether I will continue to use Rdio or Spotify, but am leaning towards Rdio so here it is on that platform. Enjoy.

The August Playlist can be found on Rdio.

ANASTASIA BROW: WHIZ VS. DIPBROW

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The one thing that I won't leave the house without fixing up are my brows. Without a little tending to, they are quite sparse and frankly don't do me any favors. I've tried my fair share of brow products, but at the end of the day Anastasia Beverly Hills reigns supreme. However, being a student means that I don't have a whole lot of disposable income, and with such a hefty price tag, these products can seem a bit unreasonable. I was going through my Brow Whiz like CRAZY and eventually decided to try Dip Brow with the thought that it would last much longer. I'd seen some great tutorials on YouTube of ladies who could get that gorgeous sort of faded out brow using the product, but unfortunately with my lack of expertise and patience I could never achieve the look. It takes a steady hand and a lot more than the minute that I have in the AM to get that perfect Dip Brow'ed brow down, and for the essence of time, Brow Whiz is currently the one for me.

Dip Brow
Pros: Lasts a really long time
Cons: Takes longer to apply to achieve a great looking brow

Brow Whiz
Pros: Precise, easy to apply
Cons: Price

FITNESS UPDATE

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Left - February 2015 // Right - July 2015

The boyfriend and I have a trip to Mexico planned for the end of August, and the prospect of having some time off is terribly exciting, especially since it means beaches and pina coladas. Of course, what it also means is laying out in a bikini for seven days, which like the average twenty-something brings a lot of horror in it's own regard.

Not that I have been lazy per se, but perhaps a bit more inactive since starting my new job. Excuses, excuses, but I find it really hard to get myself to the gym in the afternoon after work. I am definitely a morning exerciser, but I'm trying to make it work. I've given myself eight weeks to get myself back into tip-top shape, or at least back to my post-BBG bod. We are at six weeks out now, and I thought I'd start to give weekly updates as to where I'm at and what I'm doing to hold me accountable.

Workouts: I have a four day split going on right now that I'll likely keep up with for the duration of the next six weeks. Day 1: Legs and glutes; Day 2: Shoulders, Triceps, Abs; Day 3: Chest, Biceps, Abs; Day 4: Back and Abs. I am doing thirty minutes of LISS three days a week and one HIIT session.

Eating: I'm still following IIFYM style eating on a high protein diet. 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. I eat clean for all except one or two cheat meals a week. I like dining at great restaurants, and I'm not about to give that up just yet.

I am slowly but surely learning that you have to trust the process with fitness and getting the physique that you want. It is very easy to compare yourself to others and question why your progress isn't quite there yet, but progress pictures really are the best indication of how far you've come.

SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2015

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Initially setting up our terrace garden plot back in June.

Has anyone else noticed that the summer is flying by?

It has been a very different experience working a 'real' job this summer – my first, in fact. Summers past I’ve been working, but only in a part-time capacity in a very entry level, front line position. I have been doing my summer internship as part of my degree and as I said, the office life is a very different experience than I am used to.

My plans for the summer have gone mostly uncompleted thus far. Little goals like reading more books and making the most of my weekends have ultimately not happened, and I’d really like to change that with the two months that remain before I got back to school in the fall. With that in mind, I’ve written up a little summer bucket list that I’d like to share.

SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2015

Spend a weekend in Canmore.
Grow vegetables.
Make salted honey pie.
Learn how to use my camera.
Host a dinner party.
Read five books.
Make pina coladas.
Go camping.
Get that bikini body.
Have one vegetarian meal per week.
Perfect a capsule wardrobe.
Go to Mexico.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

SUN SAFETY

Sun Safety
It finally feels like summer is approaching in Calgary. We've had more than a few +20C days this past week, and it's no surprise that downtown is littered with people enjoying the beautiful days. My boyfriend and I were joking that summer in Calgary is so lovely, but you have to really appreciate those slight summer days to get through the seven months of winter. And we do. One of the great joys of living downtown is the amount of life that is ejected into the city down here. There are people. In my experience, you just don't see this many people out enjoying the weather, the city. We spent the better part of the weekend down at Prince's Island Park grabbing iced coffees and hanging out. Since we both spend the better part of our weekdays in an office, it's especially important to us to get out on the weekends.

Of course, being out in the sunshine for any extended period of time means that we must make sure to protect ourselves from the sun. June 1 to 7th is Sun Awareness Week and I was inspired by Oscar, a health insurance company in New Jersey and New York, to share some tips on Sun Safety. I have never been much of a tanner, partly because I don't do well in the heat, and partly because trying to match makeup when you have a tan is way too much of an inconvenience for me to bother (all of the important reasons, I know). Despite my somewhat ridiculous reasons for avoiding the sun, there were a few brief summers where you could find me perched on my back porch on a lawn chair slathered up in dark tanning oil. Not long after that, my mother had a stint with skin cancer, and since then we've all been a lot more cautious about protecting ourselves.

My big thing is of course, sunscreen. I apply first thing ever morning after using my Origins GinZing moisturizer. Right now, I'm using La Roche Posay Anthelios Lightweight Lotion SPF 30, which is great because it really is lightweight and can handle having makeup put overtop of it without looking heavy or greasy. I have heard really great things about Kiehl's sunscreens, so that will be my next venture. After applying sunscreen on my face, I follow up with my tarte Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20. I love this product because it offers just enough coverage to even out my skin tone, but is by no means heavy. On days when I'm out in the sun, I make sure to apply sunscreen to my body, and it's especially important to reapply if you're outside for long periods of time. Finally, I find that my scalp is very susceptible to burning, so a hat is a must. I've picked up a few good options from Aritzia and Urban Outfitters over the years.

APRIL FAVORITES

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Frank Scrub. Both the boyfriend and I are hooked on this stuff. It makes for one hell of a messy shower, but smells amazing and leaves your skin silky smooth.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder. This is stocked by Sephora online! I was in dire need of an actual contour powder, as I'd been sinfully using my NARS Laguna in that role for months. I finally hit pan and took the plunge for the Kevyn Aucoin.

Saje Konjac Kare Green Tea Sponge. I've of course seen konjac sponges around for ages, but never bothered to purchase one. This was gifted to me and I am SO happy that it was. I don't know how it does it, but it has that same exfoliating effect on your face that leaves it oh-so smooth. Uneven texture has been a big issue with my skin as of late, which explains why three of my favorites this month are meant to combat that issue.

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial. This mask definitely lives up to the hype, and is really perfect to use first thing in the morning when you don't have a whole lot of time, but feel the need to put something on your face. Great for dull, tired skin, the Vitamin C pumps up the glow.

Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask. I received a smaller size of this mask in a trio pack that I purchased last year and have been desperately searching for only this mask to purchase again. OF COURSE, it's the only one out of the three that isn't sold in stores. I snagged it online and am so glad that I did. It's a chemical exfoliant so you can really feel it working. It smells like fall, which I appreciate even now.

NEST Fragrances in Indigo. I received this with my online Sephora order, as I'm out of perfume and am too damn cheap to buy the Byredo or Tom Ford that I want. This is described as: "Moroccan tea, Kashmir wood, and black cardamom are enhanced with hints of wild fig and bergamot." It's woodsy. Right up my alley. It'll do as a stand in!

Origins Gin Zing Moisturizer. My tried and trusted. I don't know exactly what it is about this moisturizer, but it's the one that I always come back to. It's lightweight, smells delicious, is effective, and I find perks up my skin a bit. Thankfully it's also in the mid-range price-wise, making it an even better choice!

WEEKEND IN WATERTON

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The boyfriend and I had a little weekend getaway to Waterton this past weekend as a bit of a celebration for him being done tax season and myself being done the semester. It was well deserved. I'd only been to Waterton once before, as a child with my mother, brother, and grandmother. Up until this trip I couldn't have pointed it out on a map for you, but it is located in very southern Alberta just about bordering both the United States and British Columbia. It's a quaint little place—a few locally owned businesses and not even a Tim Hortons to be found (a ridiculous, albeit 'Canadian' thing to say). My understanding is that the place more or less shuts down for the winter. Our hotel had just opened for the season on May 1st, and no shoppes other than the restaurant in our hotel, the gas station, and another hotel restaurant were open yet. Admittedly, it made it somewhat eerie.

One of my favorite parts was the wildlife. Within an hour of arriving, we'd seen deer, big horned sheep, and a fox. We saw the sheep and the deer throughout the weekend, which was very cool. They were so accustomed to having people around that we managed to get quite close to snap some photos. We did a lot of lounging—naps and hanging out. Other than that, we also managed to get in two littles hikes: one to Bear Hump and one to Red Rock Canyon. It was so nice to be able to get away for a bit before life picks up again, however brief the trip was.
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KAYLA ITSINES BIKINI BODY TRAINING GUIDE: MY EXPERIENCE AND REVIEW

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Eight weeks ago, I mentioned that I was doing Kayla Itsines BBG. You can read more about that here. Since that post, I completed the first guide and have since moved on to the Bikini Body Training Guide 2. I thought I'd share my experience doing the first guide in the hopes that I can encourage some others to give it a go. I don't say this lightly, but the program truly changed my outlook on food and exercise and overall has really changed my life.

Fitness
BBG is a plyometrics training guide. Kayla sets you up with 3 sets of 12 weeks worth of resistance training workouts and advises on how to proceed with cardio and rehabilitation. To give an overview, as prescribed, Weeks 1-4 has you doing 2-3 resistance sessions, 2-3 sessions of low intensity cardio, and one rehab session. Weeks 5-8 have 2-3 resistance sessions, 3-4 low intensity cardio sessions, and one rehab session. Weeks 9-12 have 3-4 resistance sessions, 2-3 low intensity cardio sessions, 1-2 HIIT sessions, and 1-2 rehab sessions. You'll notice that the amount of cardio that you're doing drastically increases as the program progresses, likely to have you shred down all of your fat.

Did I follow the guide as prescribed? No. Life happens. Weeks 9-12 fell around mid to end of term, and I frankly did not have time to get in two workouts a day. I couldn't get up any earlier to go to the gym, as I already wake up at 5 AM and our gym doesn't open until 6, and spent my entire day until 8 PM at school. No excuses, but it just wasn't going to happen for me at that time.

So what did I do? Weeks 1-4, I followed the recommendations as prescribed. Weeks 5-8, I got in the maximum resistance sessions, half the low intensity cardio sessions, and incorporated HIIT into my regime early. Weeks 9-12, I did the maximum resistance sessions, 1 low intensity cardio session, and 2 HIIT sessions. If I had the time to do 2 workouts a day, I definitely would have and I think my results would have been a bit more drastic, but what I lacked in those extra low intensity cardio sessions, I more than made up for with my diet.

Diet
In addition to the BBG, there is also a HELP Nutrition Guide with weekly meals and suggestions. I have the Guide, but I didn't use it. Weeks 1-4 I didn't drastically alter my diet. I simply ate clean and allowed myself one cheat meal per week. My diet is naturally quite high in carbs, which I think is common for a lot of vegetarians or past vegetarians. I don't mean filled with pasta and bread, just that I ate a lot of fruit and vegetables. I realized quite quickly that if I wanted to change my body composition and I wanted to change it fast, I was going to have to change my eating style. I quick search through bodybuilding.com led me to a page on calculating your macronutrients, and I haven't looked back since. I ate very low carb, high protein, moderate fat from Weeks 5-12 and followed an IIFYM style of eating. If you aren't familiar with If It Fits Your Macros, click on over here. Basically, you eat to meat your macronutrient targets, so carbohydrates, fat, and protein. IIFYM gets a lot of criticism because you can follow the diet by eating a lot of crap food and still managing to meet your targets. I don't do it this way. I hit my macros by taking into account my micros. If, at the end of that I have some wiggle room, I'll have a piece of chocolate. I eliminated the weekly cheat meal and from what I recall, I've eaten out two times since making the switch. I'm kind of thankful that I didn't even attempt to do the prescribed cardio sessions, because my energy levels have been quite low thanks to the lack of carbs. Carbs are energy, carbs are energy, carbs are energy. Since last weekend, I've been slowly but surely attempting to increase my carb intake so that I can get out of this fog and increase my cardio sessions with ease.

I think eating this way made a BIG difference with regards to my results. It takes a lot of diligence to eat that way for two months, believe me. But I do think that it was worth it, and now I just have to make the switch back to moderate carbs, moderate protein, and relatively low fat. I'll keep on with IIFYM.

Results
Overall, I lost five pounds. That speaks to nothing, because I lost INCHES everywhere. While my weight is relatively the same, I've leaned out one hell of a lot, and am really pleased with my results in such a short time period. I have a healthy relationship with food and fitness these days, which is really awesome. I'm taking in more calories that I have in years and yet I'm still seeing results, which is very reassuring for me. I don't obsess about exercising—it's just part of my day.
Week 13
What's next?
I've started BBG 2. I am using heavier weights and incorporating extra sessions. Here's what my week looks like right now:

Monday / BBG Legs
Tuesday / LISS
Wednesday / BBG Arms
Thursday / HIIT, Legs
Friday / BBG Abs
Saturday / HIIT, Arms and Abs
Sunday / BBG Full Body

It'll be interesting to see how I progress over the next 11 weeks. Overall, I can't recommend the BBG enough. It's good for all fitness levels and the results are pretty amazing. I wouldn't say that I started at an overly high fitness level as I didn't work out consistently for most of 2014. The program was definitely very hard at first (and still continues to be), but your fitness level improves very quickly if you keep at it. You definitely have to be willing to commit, but once you do, you won't be disappointed. 

THE APRIL PLAYLIST

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Spring is here. It's 20 degrees in Calgary today and feels absurdly more like summer than spring. We've been lucky. Very, very lucky. I have the windows wide open today and it's refreshing to let in some fresh (city) air. With spring comes spring cleaning, of course. There's no way around it. The last couple of months have been chaotic at school and I have admittedly let my storage situation at the apartment get a little nuts. I've been critiqued for making piles—a dreaded habit of my mothers that I seem to have adopted, much to everyone's dismay. While I'm still in the midst of exams (1 down, 5 to go), I would be lying if I said that I was constantly studying. My breaks have been filled with a little tidying up here and there and it is a relief to have things in order.

This playlist was compiled from tracks that I've 'starred' on my Galaxy over the past few months. Once compiled, I realized that it actually makes a really good playlist to do some cleaning to, and that's primarily when I've been listening to it. You've got some new, some old, and some uh, hip hop, which is strange for me. My boyfriend has somehow managed to get me into a small amount of hip hop—the unthinkable. I've frankly just never had a taste for it, but I will admit that it is the best kind of music to workout to. It's also what he'll often catch me blasting when he gets home from work while I deny, deny, deny and claim that it was "just on." Well, that was the case and one point, but now I kind of dig it.

You can stream the playlist here.

While I'm Alive / STRFKR
Don't You Love (feat. Banks) / Lil Silva
I Luv the Valley OH! / Xiu Xiu
Hey / The Pixies
3005 / Childish Gambino
Overdone / Bombay Bicycle Club
I Don't Want Love / The Antlers
King Kunta / Kendrick Lamar
Ruphmiup / Bowmont
WHALE / Yellow Ostrich
All Your Fault / Big Sean, Kanye West
Pups to Dust / Modest Mouse
The Love You're Given / Jack Garratt
Nara / alt-J
Nothing Without Love / Nate Ruess
Whitewash / Halcyon Drive

#nanaicecream

Nicecream
Joining an online fitness community is admittedly a weird thing. Weird and wonderful. I've never been one to workout with a partner—I much prefer to do the suffering alone. Working out is a release for me, and I like to do it in peace and quiet (or jamming to my favourite tunes rather). The online community is there for support, and although they are spread across this earth of ours, they do a rather good job of motivating. It bodes well for me. I have people cheering me on (while I do the same for them, of course) and I can do the thing just how I like it. I've made more progress on the BBG in 5 weeks than I have in years of working out on my own, so there's that. It's good. It's real good.

I have a sweet tooth. I've been really good since starting this program and I think the only things I've really cheated with are half a chocolate chip cookie on Oscar night and a couple of macarons. I've traded the bad stuff for the good, opting for raw desserts with nut bases, dates, a banana with nut butter, or a bowl of this good stuff. #Nanaicecream, as they call it on Instagram. It has a strange cult following of some individuals who I swear eat the stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their creations are a lot more stunning than my own (take a look through the hashtag feed), but all in all, I think it's quite a humble dessert. I'm certainly not reinventing the wheel by sharing this one, but I find that it does the trick when a dessert-craving hits, or even as a snack. I've decided to finally increase my calorie intake to support working out 6 days a week, as well as pay closer attention to my macros, and this is a good option to fill in the gaps. A scoop of protein powder and a drizzle of nut butter accounts for your protein and fat content, and of course, the banana takes care of your carbs. Good and done.
Nicecream
Nanaicecream | Serves 1

1 banana, frozen (~150 grams)
1 scoop protein powder (I use MusclePharm)
10 grams (a splash, essentially) non-fat milk

Top with natural nut butter, coconut chips, etc.

Mix all ingredients in a high speed blender. If it's a little too runny, stick it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.

GETTING BACK INTO A FITNESS GROOVE - 5 WEEKS STRONG

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Unless you've been living under an Instagram rock, you've likely heard of Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Training Guide. I purchased it last summer in the hopes of getting my ass back to the gym (considering I work at one, you'd think this would be easy), but only managed to get to Week 2, 3 times over. I guess that's what happens when you take two long vacations over the summer... Nevertheless, I started the BBTG again 5 weeks ago and am proud to say that I am still going strong and am already seeing results.

As great as it is to be getting fit, obviously it limits the amount of yummy recipes I'm cooking up and how many delicious restaurant meals I get to try. So, y'know, less content. I've been following a pretty gosh darn strict diet with one cheat meal per week. I'm not a vegetarian anymore either, and my meat consumption has gone up substantially since moving in January. It's been a big lifestyle change, but I'm enjoying it so far. It feels good to be getting back into the fitness game.
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I've got some major goals associated with food and fitness: Complete BBTG 1 and 2 (up to 24 weeks!), buy and be very comfortable in a Triangl swimsuit, and learn how to make raw desserts. I realize that raw desserts are still desserts, but the fact that they're made from slightly better ingredients makes me feel a bit better about indulging. Plus, it's a new challenge in the kitchen!

DELANCEY, AND OTHER MEMOIRS

Delancey
One of my goals this year is to read more non-academic books. Admittedly, this is one of my goals each year, and each year I seem to fall short. As much fun as reading about Alberta's Constitutional Framework is, sometimes a girl just wants to read about pizza. I'm having a moment with food related memoirs. While in Seattle last summer, I had the opportunity to dine at Delancey, and later found out about the book, which of course I had to read. I finished it rather quickly, and enjoyed every story in the book. Author Molly Wizenberg has this way of writing that makes you feel like you're the best of friends. Her stories are told in an raw, intimate manner, and you can't help but get drawn in. I think that having dined at Delancey helped me get into the book, as I could recall what the restaurant itself was like, as well as the dining experience itself. Overall, it was a wonderful read that I could not recommend enough.

I was having a chat with Gabi today while we were browsing the cooking section at Chapters about cooking memoirs. She mentioned a few that are now on my list, and I recalled one that I had read last year and fell madly in love with. I tend to be a read once and forget kind of gal... There are very few books that have had a lasting impact on me, but this is one of those ones that did. Another food memoir called The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. It documents her journey of swearing off eating out. A novel concept perhaps, but again, the stories that she has to tell about her experiences with home cooking are really inspiring.

ON MY LIST TO READ
1. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
2. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
3. 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander
4. Bon Appetempt: A Coming-of-Age Story (with Recipes!) by Amelia Morris

I'm sure there are more, but they are mostly related to food politics as opposed to being memoirs. Are there any others that I should add to my list?

THE IDEAL LIVING SPACE

Modani Furniture
I've mentioned over and over that I moved last month—finally out of my parents house once again. The boyfriend and I now call home a little apartment in the heart of downtown Calgary. While the place is far from ready to be shown in the space, it's been an interesting collaboration between his and my decorating style, not without compromise. What the space is now is what I would call "rustic meets post-mod IKEA catalogue chic" with an emphasis on a lot of woodwork and a lot of booze related artwork. It's good. It works for us now, but admittedly has a long way to go. I've collaborated with Modani Furniture to showcase my ideal living room, and while Modani is a bit out of my student budget now, it's nice to dream. Their selection of modern sofas is a great starting place to design a room around.

We each came into the space with a few furniture items or art pieces of our own. The above features a classic Guinness ad that hangs proudly on our wall next to an old Heineken ad and a woodwork piece by a local artist. I think that my above description fits what we're trying to achieve, minus the reliance on good 'ol IKEA (why must quality, trendy furniture be so expensive!).

All pieces above (with the exception of the poster) can be found on Modani Furniture's website.

FINISHING POWDER: HIGH END VS DRUGSTORE

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural

Gabi and I have just finished discussing our 2014 Beauty Favourites, and I somehow managed to forget MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, likely because I was out of it at the time. I moved out of my parents house a few weeks ago, and I had decided that it was maybe time to try out some drugstore makeup alternatives in an attempt to perhaps be able to spend some of my limited funds on food. It made good sense in theory, but in practice the results weren't great.

Kimmel Stay Matte

I don't really have a choice to not wear powder if I'm going to wear foundation. My face eats up foundation quicker than anything. On the recommendation of some of my favorite beauty bloggers, I chose to try Rimmel's Stay Matte Powder, but was seriously unimpressed. I used it for about a month with admittedly kind of shitty results. It's smells like talc, and leaves you with a heavy finish no matter how little you try to put on. I seem to be finding this with a lot of the drugstore alternatives that I've tried, leading me to believe that you really do get what you pay for. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, you've won this round.

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural, $32 USD
Rimmel Stay Matte, $8 USD
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