Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

If you’ve spent even 20 minutes in a gym with other people, you’ll know that suddenly everyone in the vicinity becomes a health and fitness expert. Whether they’re criticising you for eating non-fat yoghurt for breakfast or trying to convince you how important it is to take a million different supplements a day, they think their word is gospel.

But let’s be honest – most of these people have absolutely no freaking clue what they’re talking about. To clear things up, I’ve done a bit of research and have discovered some of the top fitness myths out there. And let me tell you, there are plenty.

Strength training makes women bulky

According to certified fitness and nutrition experts, this is one of the biggest lies out there. While lifting weights does build muscle, it takes a hell of a lot more than three kilo dumbbell curls to transform you into the Hulk. You might be thinking of all those female bodybuilding pics you see on Insta, but let me tell you, those women pretty much devote their entire lives to gaining muscle and looking buff AF. They also complement their training with super high protein diets and a really, really strict fitness regime. Trust me, you’re not going to turn into a superhero just by performing two to three sets of light weights a few times a week.

Squats are bad for your knees

Again, this is complete BS. In fact, experts say squats are actually good for your knees. Squats are among some of the greatest moves for performance enhancing and core-building strength. Not only do they develop all of your major muscle groups around the knees and hips, but they also help other muscle groups, such as the glutes, calf muscles, quads and hamstrings. Once you strengthen these muscles, the pressure is eliminated from the knee joints and onto the muscles that are designed to stabilise those joints. Unfortunately, no matter how much research is done about squats, many personal trainers and media personalities are still spouting off incorrect facts.

The more you sweat, the better your workout was

Not always. Some people naturally sweat more than others, and that definitely doesn’t mean they’re working out any harder. The amount you sweat also depends on your fitness level, body type and genetic history. Experts believe that the best way to measure your workout is by intensity, not sweat. If you did an intense workout, but didn’t produce any sweat, it’s definitely not something to worry about. As long as you completed your fitness regime properly and gave it all your all, chances are you totally killed it.

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Sit-ups and ab exercises will give you a six-pack

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your six pack isn’t making an appearance any time soon if you live by this rule. According to research, “you can do sit-ups for days, but if you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will stay in hiding.” Abs will only appear when you eliminate the belly fat that covers them. To achieve a toned stomach, you should try high intensity training. However, the simplest way is to just cut out artificially sweetened drinks and sugar from your diet.

The sorer you feel after a workout, the better your workout was

Soreness is usually just a sign that you haven’t performed a particular move before, or for a while at least. While stiffness and pain can be signs that you absolutely nailed your workout, it’s also possible to exercise without feeling like you’ve been kicked in the shins, thighs and buttocks with giant arse heels the next day. Everyone is also different, and some people experience delayed muscle soreness. Experts say that pain is not a suitable indicator of effectiveness, and that you shouldn’t worry if you’re not feeling as sore as your expert resident gym buddies.

Best luxury shopping places in Australia

Best luxury shopping places in Australia

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

It’s such a mission trying to find shopping outlets that offer the perfect combinations of luxury, class and style. It’s even more of a mission when you visit a new area with an intense thirst for retail therapy, but have no idea where to even begin. I’m faced with this problem every time I go somewhere new, which is why I’ve made it my civil obligation to document and review as many awesome shopping places as possible. Now, I (and you) can jump straight out of bed in the morning (well, after snoozing the alarm a few dozen times) and accomplish some of the best shopping our wonderful country has to offer. You won’t even need to worry about sorting through questionable online reviews or wandering around the streets aimlessly (you can thank me later).

What are you waiting for? Now that I’ve done all the hard work, all you need to do is ensure your credit card reaches its maximum workout potential.

Queen Victoria Building (Sydney)

As a Sydney native, this has been my go-to shopping centre for years. With its beautiful vintage architecture, it’s one of the city’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks. I absolutely adore this place because it was built back in 1898, which I think gives it a superior atmosphere. From tourists to shopping-savvy locals; the QVB has something for everyone. There are large varieties of things to purchase, including high street to high end, children’s gifts, fine jewellery and even indigenous art. Some of the centre’s best brands include Swarovski, Oroton, Longchamp, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Bally, Salvatore Ferragamo and Georg Jensen.

St Collins Lane (Melbourne)

Melbourne is a fabulous place to let your inner shopping maniac run wild. I recently holidayed there with my family, and one of our favourite shopping destinations was St Collins Lane. Not only does this precinct offer a great range of luxurious items, but its recent redesign brings it to life with a kind of modern sophistication that’s unique to Melbourne. I also found it to be incredibly innovative – not just in terms of design, but also with its fashion and culture. You can find both international and local luxurious purchases, as well as reputable brands such as TAG Heuer and Coach. In my opinion, the coolest thing about St Collins Lane is that it housed the first Australian stores that sold (and still sells) the Paris fashion brands, Maje and Sandro Paris.

QueensPlaza (Brisbane)

A few years ago, I visited the QueensPlaza for the very first time and fell in love. The centre is renowned for its stylish elegance, contemporary appearance and its amazing collection of retailers. I visited a hell of a lot of Brisbane shopping centres over a period of two weeks, but the QueensPlaza definitely won my heart (a million times over). It’s home to more luxury than any other existing Brisbane (and probably Queensland) outlet. Whether you’re looking for Chanel, Tiffany, Jo Malone, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford or any other brand, you’ll find it here in the form of perfumes, handbags, jewellery and shoes.

King Street Precinct (Perth)

It’s not often I get to explore Perth (okay, I’ve only been there once), but that one time was enough for me to discover the very awesome King Street Precinct. The first thing I noticed about King Street was that it had a very European feel (and who doesn’t love Europe?!) Most of the shops were built in 1845, and while they have undergone some renovations over the years, they haven’t changed significantly. High end items and the like are sold in cute little cottages that offer super luxurious brands like Prada, Bally, Sass and Bide, Zomp, McKilroy, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more. There are even delicious cafes and restaurants dine in once the elusive shopping fatigue kicks in.

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7 things people really need to stop doing on public transport

7 things people really need to stop doing on public transport

Originally published by me on Mamamia.com.au.

This morning I was on the train when a woman pulled out a small disposable razor and started shaving her legs.

Yep. She was shaving her legs. DRY. ON THE TRAIN.

Um, I know it’s the silly season and all, but seriously? I’d much rather go to work with the hairiest legs in the world than shave in front of an entire peak hour train carriage.

 Unfortunately, that’s not even the weirdest thing that’s known to happen on public transport. Here are some (of many) more annoying passenger habits:

1. People who board without letting others off first

These people are so desperate to nab a seat, they’re willing to bowl over frail elderly women and their tiny walking sticks.

You’ve probably seen them before – they’re the commuters who line up where they think the carriage will stop about 15 minutes before the train’s expected to actually arrive.

They refuse to move for people getting on other trains and when theirs finally arrives, they barge in the doors as soon as possible — alighting passengers be damned.

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I don’t know where you people learned your manners, but don’t you know you’re supposed to stand to the side of the carriage and wait for EVERYONE TO GET OFF?

Would you really prefer be the cause of someone falling onto the freaking train tracks, rather than having to stand for 10 measly minutes?

Remember: sensible people are good people.

2. People who sniffle and/or cough without covering their mouth

Not only are you probably infecting me with your illness, but you’re doing in a really awful way. Just stop.

Nobody can help getting sick and sometimes we still have to go to work, but please try not to spread your germs by being a gross person.

Trust me, the sound of blowing your nose is much nicer than the sound of snot being sucked around every two minutes.

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3. People who put their bags on the seat

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. What gives you the right to dictate whether people can sit next to you?

Did your bag pay for a ticket? No, I didn’t think so!

I know it’s as simple as asking someone to move their bag, which I’ve happily done on many occasions. But the point is that I shouldn’t have to do in the first place.

How about you just not put your stuff on perfectly good seats? Great, thanks.

4. People who trim their nails

To be honest, this is even grosser than shaving your legs on public transport.

Where are your disposed nails going? Are you dropping them on the floor so that someone else can clean them up, or are you allowing them to fling across the carriage and potentially land on some poor unsuspecting soul’s head?

Either way, not cool.

5. People who eat smelly food

People who eat on public transport don’t bother me at all. But people who eat smelly food in small spaces? Bad.

Whipping out a can of tuna, an egg sandwich or even leftover curry is a huge no no. It gets up the nostrils of everyone around you and when it mixes with the already sometimes-questionable scent of public transport, they’ll want to puke.

I used to catch the train to work, and without fail, the same woman would sit next to me every single morning. She seemed nice enough, but she liked to eat corn on the cob for breakfast.

Now, plenty of people enjoy a good cob of corn — but I don’t know anyone who eats it at 7:30am. Out of a plastic bag. For 50 minutes straight.

I even moved carriages several times, but she somehow still sought me out. She then spent the entire journey nibbling as slowly as possible on her corn while elbowing me in the ribs.

Fun times.

6. People who read over your shoulder

Trust me, my text messages aren’t that interesting. Most of the time I’m just messaging my mum asking her what belongs in the fridge and what belongs in the pantry.

It’s even more annoying when I’m trying to read a book or newspaper. You do know that you’re not being stealthy, right? I can feel your eyes burning through my pages.

If you’re really that fascinated with my reading material, why don’t you just buy your own damn one?

7. People who listen to music without headphones

Yes, I always listen to music on public transport. I’d be bored out of my mind otherwise.

But I use these small things called headphones that – shockingly – allow only me to hear my music. Crazy concept, right?

Apparently it is for some people. They seem to think their music is so great that everyone else should also be subjected to its torture.

But the train’s not your personal dance party, buddy, so give it up.

Feel free to inflict the pain on your own ears, but leave mine out of it.

Summer struggles Australians know all too well

Summer struggles Australians know all too well

Originally published by me on AussieGossip.com.au.

Even though we have the best summers down here in Oz (#blessed), sometimes it can be like navigating through hell. Whether you spent your childhood convincing your teacher to send you home in the 40 degree heat, or you cooled down by trying to fit inside the freezer (sorry mum), we’ve all been there. Here are the serious struggles that every Aussie knows come with the fun times of summer.

The family fan

You know the one. Your parents didn’t spring for air con, so you spent your days fighting over who got to sit in front of the shitty family fan. And every so often, all hell broke loose when someone – in a heat induced rage – would relocate it to their bedroom. Meanwhile, the rest of the family was left to fend death off by themselves. Good times.

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Walking on the scorching hot sand

You’ve been dying to hit the beach all day, and you’re finally there. But one step on the sand and you REGRET your entire life. If you were one of the lucky ones, you had thongs to protect you. Otherwise, you had no choice but to throw your towel on the ground and take refuge every few metres. If you had neither, RIP.

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Hot seat belts

You thought you finally escaped the heat. You jumped in the car, breathed a sigh of relief and happily reached for your seatbelt (because safety). BIG mistake. The metal part was as hot as a freaking oven, and you wouldn’t be surprised if your fingers suddenly started sprouting blisters. And no matter how many times it happened, you just kept doing it over and over… and over again.

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‘iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it’

Possibly the most annoying thing ever. You thought you could catch some rays, but now even your phone’s suffering from heat stroke, and you’re bored as hell. You can’t live your life without documenting your every move, so you just head back inside after about five minutes. It was a solid effort, though.

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Sweating and sticking to the chair

Ugh. How do you get out of your seat without people noticing the sweat? It’s dripping down your face as you’re trying to get an ice cream and hoping you don’t see anyone you know. In the heat of Aussie summer, the sweat struggle is 100% there and very real.

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Weather that can’t make up its mind

Will it rain this morning and then suddenly skyrocket to 45 degrees? Probably. Will it begin hailing halfway through the day but then turn sunny again? Most likely. Can you expect wind, a storm and possibly even a flood? You betcha. Prepare for everything.

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Endless flies

Did you want that burger? Well, too bad. It’s been taken hostage by a family of flies, and they couldn’t care less. All they care about is hovering over you in the most irritating way while rubbing their tiny little hands together in glee. And don’t even try applying Aeorogard because the little bastards will only take it as a challenge.

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Best ways to get to bed early

Best ways to get to bed early

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

It took me a long time to master the art of getting to bed early, and sometimes I still fail miserably. You see, I have one of those minds that never shuts up. And don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’m inventing the cure for cancer; most of the time I’m just thinking about how someone would look with purple hair or what my next meal’s going to be. And let me tell you, having a busy mind isn’t good for someone who aims to get to bed reasonably early. I want to retire and get a good night’s sleep, but there are so many things my mind is insisting I do. I have things to google, online shopping to do, TV to watch and I should most definitely shave my legs before wearing that skirt tomorrow.

Before I know it, it’s 3am and I’m sitting on my bed; pondering my career choices while memorising the lyrics of Adele’s new single and watching YouTube videos about how to communicate with my dog. Yes, that’s pretty much a typical night for me. My laptop usually has more tabs open than you’d think is possible. Think beauty blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Boohoo, Netflix, Flight Centre (one day I will be out of here), cooking websites and so much more. And it all needs to be done that night.

Not to mention – there are many other obstacles that can derail my nights and ruin that much needed beauty sleep. Housekeeping, for example, is a huge one. I find having a messy house so stressful that most of the time I try to get it all done as quickly as possible. And on top of that, I then proceed to go through all of the above time wasting steps after I’m done. Other days, I’ll get random guests who want to hang out and gossip all night. And while I love most of them dearly, the next day I’m not only tired as hell, but I’m more hungover than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

But the thing is, our nights don’t have to be so busy. I’ve recently discovered some great ways to ensure I get a good night’s sleep and am ready and raring for the next day (yes, even those dreaded mornings).

Set yourself a curfew and enforce bargaining tools

If you’re anything like me and have absolutely no self control, you’ll need this. If you don’t get home before your curfew or make it to bed in time, appoint yourself a punishment. For example, on weeknights I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm. If I’m unsuccessful, I refuse to buy myself anything nice the next day. If I make the deadline, the next day I’ll reward myself by splurging on a giant burger, complete with a mango smoothie and maybe even some ice cream and/or chocolate (why not both?) It’s a great bargaining tool; even if you are bargaining with yourself. Sometimes grown ups have to be their own parents, and it sucks, but it’s the only way we’ll ever make it in this big, scary world.

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Notify all family and friends that you won’t be available that night

Like I said before, these people have been responsible for many of my sleepless nights. When I’m dead set on going to bed early, I text the people closest to me and politely ask them not to bother me that night. This means no Facebook notifications, no phone calls, no text messages and especially no spontaneous visits. It’s not always possible (there’s always that one person), so another good idea is to shut off all social media for the night. It’s easy to deactivate Facebook, and it’s even easier to log straight back in once your strike is over. Just think: your friends and family aren’t going anywhere; you’ll be able to catch up on all the goss before you know it.

Keep a notebook nearby

This is the perfect way to get all your thoughts and feelings down as soon as they pop into your head. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of something very important as soon as your head hits the pillow. I usually tell myself it’s no big deal, and that it doesn’t matter if I forget about my recent revelation come morning time, but that never works. After all, what if sleep clears my memory and makes me forget the Bachelor finale is on tomorrow night? That would be an absolute disaster! Cue the notebook. Write absolutely everything down (birthdays, work ideas, grocery lists, you name it) and then make sure you read it all in the next day. I found this method creates a long, peaceful sleep free of worry and regret.

Don’t drink caffeine several hours before bed

I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I know who drink coffee before bed. Everyone knows caffeine keeps you awake, so keep away from the stuff before heading hitting the hay. If you really love a good cup of coffee, opt for decaf. Experts say we shouldn’t drink coffee or consume anything high in caffeine four to six hours before going to bed. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I used to eat a lot of chocolate at night and I was always tired the next day because I couldn’t get to sleep. Ever since I improved my eating habits, I’ve been much more alert and satisfied with my sleeping routine.

Complete your bedtime routine, and then read a book

Did you know screens are more likely to keep us awake more than anything else? For me, this is especially true. Screens are bright, require a lot of concentration and can give you tension headaches. This makes me want to stay up even later because I know I won’t be able to drift off once I go to bed. Books, on the other hand, are a godsend. I love to cuddle up with a great book and let myself doze off naturally. Before doing this, I make sure to create a bedtime ritual and complete it a few hours prior to bed so that I’m ready for sleep as soon as the tiredness kicks in. After all, taking showers, brushing my teeth and other night routines tend to keep me alert for longer periods of time.

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The top 5 best Disney movies

The top 5 best Disney movies

Originally published by me on Mamamia.com.au.

You know when you sit down with a good Disney movie, popcorn in hand, kids in front of the TV, your hair in that messy bun you do when no one from the outside world is around to relive your childhood and cry about how times have changed?

Yes, you do. Isn’t it great?

If you’re running out of choices, we’ve got you covered with our definitive list of old and new Disney films.

1. The Lion King (1994)

Domestically, no other Disney classic has ever made as much money as The Lion King. And with its heartwarming recount of Shakespeare’s Hamlet,which is depicted through the eyes of cute lion cub, Simba, it’s not hard to see why. The classic has got tragedy, humour, deceit and romance – something for everyone!

Plus, who gets sick of thrusting their household cats into the air while chanting “The Circle of Life?

Nobody, that’s who.

2. Aladdin (1992)

Obviously. The plot is on point, the villain is outstanding and all of the characters have endearing, crazy and enormous personalities. What more could you possibly want?

Aladdin has got to be one of the Disney movies of all time purely because the storyline is so unique. How many other tales revolve around lamps, genies, flying carpets and royalty?

3. The Little Mermaid (1989)

There’s no doubt The Little Mermaid is many a wannabe Ariel’s favourite of the bunch.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, the film is about a mermaid who gets to live in an under water wonderland and sacrifices her voice for the man she loves.

More importantly, there’s a talking crab, an evil woman-cross-octopus and some of the catchiest songs ever to be screened during an animated film.

4. Maleficent (2014)

This one’s a real-life Disney action film, so it’s a tad different. And even though some would say it doesn’t live up to the reputation of some of the other Disney movies on offer, it’s still freaking amazing – and not only because Angelina Jolie’s a kick-arse actress.

Maleficent herself is based on the iconic evil villain in Sleeping Beauty, who’s heart turned to stone after a hideous betrayal. She was seriously scorned by a man (join the club, girlfriend) and unlike many other Disney films, Maleficent is a unique story of female strength and determination. In fact, the movie focuses more on the awesome bond between mother and daughter.

5. Cinderella (2015)

While the 2015 live action version of Cinderella is based off earlier animated versions, there’s just something about seeing one of your favourite movies come to life. And it was understandably a huge hit at the box office. The acting, wardrobe, scenery and even the cast’s chemistry all contributed to making this version of one of the best Disney movies.

Mum gives dolls ‘makeunders’ and now she has a thriving business

Mum gives dolls ‘makeunders’ and now she has a thriving business

Originally published by me on Mamamia.com.au.

Have you ever refused to buy your child a doll because of the way they look?

Were you told by your child that ‘all the other kids have them’ and ‘you’re being so unfair?’ You are not alone.

One Sydney mum has decided to do something about it by transforming traditional dolls into a toy she really wants to give her daughter.

Mim Hammonds collects pre-loved Bratz dolls from various op shops and garage sales and transforms them by removing their makeup, repainting their faces, fixing their hair and eliminating the six-inch stilettos.

The mother-of-two appeared on The Morning Showearlier this week where she told hosts, Kylie and Larry, she initially only intended to ‘makeunder’ dolls for her young daughter. But the word spread and now she’s receiving hundreds of orders from people all over the world.

“I have a three year old daughter who’s obsessed with dolls, and I wanted to give her some to play with,” she told The Morning Show.

“The ones I found in the shops I wasn’t happy with. I just didn’t think they were appropriate. And being a crafty mum, I thought – ‘right, I can do this’.”

Mim began her creative pursuit after she won a competition where she was gifted with a gorgeous repainted doll from talented artist, Samantha Murphy. Mim became so inspired she nabbed a DIY booklet from Tree Change Dolls, and with the help of various YouTube tutorials, she slowly learnt how to manufacture these dolls herself.

And now her thriving online business, Mim’s Dandy Dolls has become more popular than she ever anticipated.

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With Mim’s doll of choice to ‘makeunder’ being the popular Bratz doll, she has had a surprising reaction to her venture.

“Since starting my page, I have been abused, trolled and attacked by hard-core Bratz fans who are obviously heavily influenced by the Bratz image,” the businesswoman told Mamamia.

“There’s a big emphasis on being skinny, on appearing sexy and having attitude. The sexual connotations and comments, the shocking language and level of abuse they direct towards anyone who doesn’t like Bratz, and the open bullying on social media is quite frightening and disturbing,” she said.

“Children have the right to not be bombarded with that message when they’re simply being children and playing, which is just one reason I think my dolls are important.”

Each one of Mim’s Dandy Dolls has her own unique story and personality, as opposed to existing on appearance alone.

In fact, they’re just like the special kids in your own life. They climb trees, play in dirt, help each other, solve puzzles, run fast, are intelligent, love reading and writing, have great senses of humour, throw their heads back when they laugh and are one of a kind.

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“Meet Lisa! My little thinker, kissed abundantly by the fairies. She may appear to be listening to you but is more likely inventing something terribly clever in her mind! Lisa is often in trouble at school for not paying attention but it’s so hard to stay focused on something that doesn’t interest you when you have more pressing matters to think upon! Like why one layer of clouds is moving faster than another, or how the bird outside is making such a compact, fiddly little nest with out any fingers, or how she could save time in the morning by wearing her school clothes to bed at night.” Image and caption via @dandelionthread on Etsy.

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“Meet Alison – a vivid reader with a vivacious and cheeky personality. Her heroine is Hermione Granger because aside from the fact that they share the same thick, bushy hair, Hermione is brave and clever and kind – all things that Alison tries to be. Alison wants to be a writer when she grows up.” Image and caption via @dandelionthread on Etsy.

By creating these stories, Mim hopes to pass on messages that children should come just as they are, and to embrace their perfect imperfections. To show that sometimes the thing that makes them a little different can actually be the thing that makes them so special.

“I love the quote ‘We get so worried about being pretty – let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong.’ That’s the message to young girls that I hope my dolls encourage. To put more value on character, on kindness, on the ability to solve problems or help others. On appreciating all the amazing things the human body is capable of doing rather than how hot or sexy it can be.”

Additionally, Mim has dabbled in the art of recreating a few Barbie dolls. And although she’s not 100% confident with them yet, she’s determined to keep practising.

For more information on Mim’s Dandy Doll, please visit Mim’s Etsy page.