THE BLOG

08
Sep

I went low FODMAP in Italy and I didn’t break.

Despite my earlier post detailing the finest pizzas and gelato and cheesecakes in Florence, I must confess those magnificent meals were not indicative of my daily diet. They were naughty, delicious pit stops on a food journey through Italy that was primarily – gasp! – lactose, wheat, gluten and fructose free, and where possible, low in FODMAPs.

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Oh no no no, it’s not for any special reason, I just like to make life hard for myself! No: since the start of the year I’ve been sorting out some longstanding gut issues, (I thank Gut, the brilliant book by Giulia Enders for finally urging me to do so; also recommend Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, he of Grain Brain fame) and my gut guy (technical title) recommended I go on the low FODMAP diet to fix them.

At first I was miserable, and confused, hungry and extremely hangry, and then, after time, I figured out what I could eat, and what upset my tum, and how to cook without onion and garlic, and now it’s just a way of life. (Except that it isn’t, because it’s not a forever-diet, it’s a highly restrictive, temporary diet while your gut heals and then you begin re-introducing the problem foods back in. But you know what I mean.)

I feel much better for it, and so armed with a slew of supplements (oregano oil, Bactrex, digestive enzymes… sing if you know the words) I headed to the land of wheat, cheese and fruit.

But here’s what I discovered. You can still eat well and not feel like you are missing out in Italy, even if you have malabsorption issues, or intolerances, are vegan, or have full-blown allergies. The Italians are incredibly progressive in this area, in fact; no one blinks when you make a special request. Except for that one time I asked for Nutella on my omelette.

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I’m not sick, it’s a dietary preference, and I am the furthest thing from an expert on this, but you can click here to read what I learned if it’s of interest. (But not here.)

Responses to this drivel: 4 Comments
10
Jun

Go on. Be obnoxious on your anniversary.

When my friendly overlords at Expedia asked me to write about anniversaries and travel, I was ready. I bloody love an anniversary. And if it involves travel, even better.

But I’m not necessarily the norm. Well not after a few years of marriage, anyway. Of course, when you first start seeing someone Really Great you celebrate being together for a month. Six months gets heavy fanfare. A whole year warrants a weeklong celebration and fifty cute selfies.

But for some reason, maybe it’s familiarity, or the introduction of children, or just the general energy-sucking cycle of daily life, the celebrations go from 100 watts to about 20 watts by the time you are actually married, and have earned a legitimate, legal anniversary.

Case in point: I recently texted a mate to wish her and her husbo a happy anniversary. She text back saying: We both forgot.

I found this so dismaying that I immediately sent over a Celine Dion impersonator to serenade the two.

Marriage isn’t always cupcakes and Jesus juice, but it’s important to show each other your marriage is a priority, and that you still love them. An anniversary is a reminder as to why you love and married this person.

My husband and I will take any excuse to kick up a fuss, especially if it involves a weekend away, or a new restaurant or drinking strong, well-mixed alcohol in elegant glasses.

We don’t give a bee’s burp about the gifts you’re ‘meant’ to give each year, like paper, silver, or leather, or insect wings, but we do think you should give each other a ‘memory’ – commemorate each other, and what you have achieved in another year of marriage by doing something, whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or something you used to do but never do anymore, or just doing nothing.

And yes, the longer you’ve been married, the more extravagant and obnoxious those things are allowed to be. (I plan on buying a diamond-encrusted pergola for our 20th.)

In case you’re struggling, here are some ways to give your anniversary a figurative tequila shot this year….

Read the list here.

But not here.

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Responses to this drivel: 5 Comments
02
May

I finally found my ‘mum’ style.

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, but if you’re a mum you already know that cos you’re busy putting in your specific pancake order (maple syrup, butter and whipped cream) for Sunday morning, to be delivered no earlier than TEN AM.

One (of the four billion) thing(s) they don’t tell you about being a mum is how much your personal style can (and will) change post-baby: you may end up with an entirely new fashion identity. It could even be guy called Merl, who favours bark-brown slacks and sensible sandals. Who knows.

I thought I was sartorially prepared for being a mum. I figured being a stay at home writer (‘dressing for comfort but courageously foregoing fleece for denim’) meant I’d be a gun at it.

And I was TOTALLY right!! Man am I the friggen best. The end.

Just kidding, I have way more bragging to do first.

But seriously, I was astonishingly wrong. The Newborn Days were the first fashion slap in the face. Huge, messy boobs jammed into daggy bras, tracksuit pants, Air Max, a hoody and a pair of bleary, shell-shocked eyes was my go-to look, and I gave zero toots about it. I’d stuffed all my maternity slops into a cupboard when I first got home from the hospital, then dejectedly got half of them back out again because, um, they fit, and were comfortable, and I didn’t care if I spilled meatballs on them. (Just so you know what brand of optimistic you’re dealing with here, I packed my old jeans in my hospital bag. I did not wear them home.)

At around 10 weeks, (of my son’s life/of eating cake twice a day/no exercise or even walking because of a fractured pubis) some work events forced me out of the fog. I’d squeeze and Spanx myself into a bright, fun dress that seemed right, like something I would wear, then tear straight back into my soft clothes to express milk and watch Survivor. When my Son was five months old, I did a series of national pop-up events for my skin care company, Go-To and realised that the problem was not the nine outfits I tried on for each one, but that I had no idea how to dress this new busty, materbity-bra-ed, wide-hipped frame I’d been given. All my old stuff (preppy, fitted shirts, high-waisted skirts and novelty sweaters) didn’t fit, and the cute, colourful young woman I used to dress as seemed wrong now, somehow. I was having a clothing identity crisis as a symptom of my new role in life, and was alarmingly judgey of all my old clothes. (Too tight! Too short! Too busty! Too non-motherly!)

Sonny was about a year old before I started to understand The New Me. I was acutely aware that couldn’t rely on the old me, or my old clothes, because not only did none of them ‘spark joy’ anymore, or fit well, I wanted to start fresh, with a zingy new look that made me feel happy, and like ‘me’, whoever that was now. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you look like shit, you will feel like shit, and after the dark newborn days, (dark sartorially and sleep-wise; thrillingly happy heart/family/pastry wise), and the not-fit-not-feel-or-look-right days, I decided to start over, and dress for how I wanted to feel: happy, polished and colourful.

I started investing in beautiful clothing again, shaking off the ‘Don’t spend good cash on clothes that won’t fit in a few months’ mantra that plagues all women in their baby-making years, to create a wardrobe that was simple, meaningful; a practical blend of casual and stylish, designer and chain store.

After all, I wasn’t only a mum. Or a stay at home writer pig. I was a godamn proper grown up career lady woman with a successful skin care business! An author with a new book about to come out! Associate producer on the TV show being created from my novel! A mid-level chainsaw juggler! A terrific lipstick-applier! It was time I started dressing like it.

My KEY wardrobe rules are:

  • To spend cash on beautiful flats cos I will wear them 500x more than heels
  • Collars always dress things up
  • Layers indicate a level of thoughtfulness and effort even if it’s entirely faked (eg: shirt under jumper/blouse under trench)
  • A few good jackets will do a LOT of heavy lifting (specifically: a leather biker jacket, a lightweight trench, a classic blazer)
  • Colour and patterns makes everything better, my mood especially
  • Flashy, fun earrings and necklaces are Holy Outfit Transformers
  • If you buy it, it has to spark joy, as per Marie Kondo’s now ubiquitous don’t-accrue-so-much-shit philosophy

As an ambassador for Westfield’s new #ownyourstory campaign, I was asked to show my personal (mum/business lady/work-from-home-r) style using some of the shiny new AW16 clothes and accessories in-store. It was FUN.

My story? I’m a woman who is just as likely to be tearing around a park after a toddler and schlepping around Coles buying milk and salt and vinegar chips (my secret shame) or sitting at her laptop for six hours straight in her home office… as she is to be popping onto the set of TV production set of The Wrong Girl, or attending an interstate meeting for the day, or heading in to see her publisher to discuss her idea for a book about a sexy, angry teen vampire who attended a wizard school called Fogwarts and had a secret billionaire lover who was into S&M. I need something casual, but with some zing. Easily transformable, and with a punch of polish.

The Getting Sh*t Done Look

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The light grey coat is stylish, warm and practical, the tote is tan and oxblood, two uber-neutrals, and fits a laptop and a nappy roll easily, the sunglasses are big and make me feel more fabulous than I have any right to, and the orangey lipstick brightens up my face and my mood immensely.

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A jumper over a collared shirt or dress always looks fun, fresh and a bit dressy/efforty. I love adding at least one pattern into block colours.

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Look at this happy woman! She got ready in 15 minutes! 

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Boxfresh trainers are beautiful, magical things that mean you can wear nice dresses, or fancy slacks but still be comfortable.

Shop and steal the look RIGHT HERE, you cute time-poor monsters: Ravishing Rampling Coat from Jac + Jack at David Jones, cute, playful gingham dress from Country Road, blindingly white sneakers from Witchery, bigass sunglasses from Karen Walker, handy tote from Country Road, jumper my own, from Country Road.

Anyway. So that’s my everyday look. But when I need to be a little bit fancy, well, then I go to the…

Little Bit Fancy Look

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This look takes me from a day time meeting (with brogues) to evening (with heels) should my husband and I decide to steal off to a show or dinner. I friggen love a good day-to-nighter; and each element of this outfit can be worn with a million other things. This pleases me.

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A glitzy earring quickly dresses things up, and makes a boring hairstyle irrelevant.

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 I love a shirt or blouse all done up. Big fan. Add a blazer with pushed up sleeves if you remember, (some skin is important with all that chest covered up) and you’re cooked.

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High-waisted pants have always flattered me more than low-waisties.
(It definitely took shedding some baby weight before 
I felt good in them again. Oh, high-waisted anything can be so cruel.)

Steal and shop the look right here: Fancy spotty pants from CUE, silky, slinky blouse from CUE, tuxedo jacket my own, from Country Road, earrings from CUE, clutch bag from Olga Berg at David Jones, heels my own, ivy from Simon my neighbor.

Head to Westfield to find out more about #ownyourstory and shop the HECK out of some very nicely edited looks and stories, actually.

And hey. If you’re a new mum, and you’re feeling like you’ve lost your fasho mojo and identity, IT WILL RETURN. It will! And likely in a whole new form, like mine did. An exciting new form that is more streamline, practical and confident. It just takes time, like a good roast, or getting to anywhere from Australia.

For now, just pop on a swipe of bright lipstick, and your favourite black jacket and off you trot, you beautiful bastard. Happy Mother’s Day!

Zo xx

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Responses to this drivel: 34 Comments
17
Aug

Gained a baby, lost my curls.

I’ve Googed it, and it’s a thing: you can lose your curls when you have a baby.

For a while I was in denial. I couldn’t believe that my curly hair had just racked off for ever. No more waves. No more bounce. No more texture. Just hair that was foreign to me: straight (but not the good straight – limp straight), thin, lank and completely unresponsive to the products and styling that used to boss it around so perfectly. Every morning it felt like I had used a super heavy conditioning treatment the night before.

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My pre-baby hair.

Baffled, I began to idiotically point fingers at the Bhave keratin smoothing treatment I had just before I had Sonny, in May 2014.  I emailed the lovely crew at Bhave in December, frustrated with the weird wig on my head.

Keep in mind that Bhave, like all keratin treatments, is temporary, and washes out in about three months, so I was really going out on a limp little limb of feasibility here:

“Ummm guys, the keratin seems to really love my hair… it is hanging about and making my hair flat and lank and heavy? I’m confused and wondering what you might advise? I keep cutting my hair shorter in the hope it will grow out…”

Also keep in mind I am a dingus and had no idea what was really going on and they were very polite despite the fact that what I was suggesting was impossible.

They sent me their prep shampoo which would strip the keratin out… but by then I had:

A)  Waltzed into Edwards and Co and had a big snip because I thought that would definitely stop the problem, and,

B) Been educated on said trip to Edwards and Co about what pregnancy hormones do to hair texture.

In short: they really fuck with them.

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The Big Snip. God it felt good. Like a re-birth after being in the baby fog for six months. Highly recommend it.

Oh yes, we all know about gaining hair as we grow the baby, and losing it once we stop breastfeeding it, but what of the texture change? WHAT OF THE TEXTURE CHANGE?

I’m not the first mum to notice a complete change of hair, nor are big hormonal hair changes a new phenomenon: I had a friend at school who had straight hair until 13 and then it went bonkers corkscrew curly. It was fantastic. She was impossibly beautiful. It all just worked. Ditto the boy who had the opposite: wild curls until high school and then just, nothing. Simple, straight, normal hair. I think he was relieved.

I understand now that hormones mess with the shape of the follicle, (shape determines curly or straight hair), and babies are completely worth it, but it is annoying. It’s as though I am starting again after decades of knowing and understanding my texture and unique hair idiosyncrasies. I am supposed to be an expert in beauty and hair and shit, but now have the styling skills of a salmon, and hair that is way too much work.

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My post-baby straight, floppy hair. And the cute little culprit. (Maybe all my curls went into his mega curl.)

I have bought a new curling tong, and cleared out my entire styling kit, (especially all the curl boosting stuff, the heavy creams, the frizz fighting stuff, the oils, and the straightening balms), now relying on volume boosting mousse and texture sprays and volume powder to try and mimic the old natural texture and grip (oh man is grip something I took for granted: now nothing holds in my stupid slippery hair: not curls, not waves, not styles, not bobby pins, not nothing. I may as well have hair that is made of washing up detergent.) I don’t use conditioner, it’s way too heavy, (I use R+Co One Prep Spray instead which protects against heat styling and gives some grip and texture) and I have an unhealthy reliance on my poor hair stylist Lauren to product some texture, any texture, with highlights and crafty cutting. I am several postcodes from wash and go, in fact I am in the next country.

Perhaps it’s karma for complaining about my curls since I was a zygote.

For having it permanently straightened.

For using ghds daily for two years straight when I was 24.

Some say the curls will come back, that it can take up to 18 months. Some say my next pregnancy might swing me back the other way. And some* say curls are for dumdums anyway.

I say Sonny owes me some godamn curls and he’s not getting any pocket money til they’re back.

 

Here are some links on this topic: here’s an NPR one, an anecdotal one, and a forum one.
Here are some links not on this topic: frog spirit animals, a very funny film clip, and delicious peanut butter mug cake.

*No one.

 

Responses to this drivel: 56 Comments
19
May

The baby stuff we use a LOT.

You buy and you try a lot of shit when you have a baby. It’s a confusing, expensive, strange new world, not least because the baby changes entirely every few minutes and you need to upgrade your tech and also your brain and habits and routines and life accordingly.

Alas, despite the furious speed in which our fun little son insists on developing, and his desire to “keep growing,” this is the shit we have really REALLY used. I wish I had this list before I had Sonny, because as you know, I live for recommendations, and wander the streets confused and scared without them.

It doubles, I suppose, as a list for those needing to buy something for someone about to have a baby.

A bottle drying station

This is great for drying off bottles and dummies and stuff, but also a magnificent wine glass drying station. Anything Boon we own – plates, bowls, bath toys, original bathtub before he grew out of it at about 10 days old – is intelligently and practically designed and fun to look at. They are some of my favourite things in a company/life.

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Terry towelling bath support thingy

We came too late to the party on this, using our slippery, stupid, panicked, incompetent hands for weeks before I bought this funny little tezzo towel ramp for Sonny to lay on and own bath time like the boss he is. Made bath time a lot easier and a lot less scary. We used it until he could sit up competently.

 

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White noise

White noise is a powerful sleep cue for Sonny. I first learned about it while reading about the 5 S’s in The Happiest Baby On The Block. (That was about as far as I got before I threw it and the seven other baby books in a huge fictional bonfire because they were doing my head in. The 5 S’s though, I think they work.) Sonny has white noise on for every nap and all night. Just lightly, about the volume of a shower. I used to literally use ‘white noise’, until I realized the aggressive hissing was making me FUCKING INSANE. I switched to ocean waves on this cute whale sound machine, which was far more calming. We usually pack Whale with us when we travel, or I just use my iPad in flight mode with the White Noise app. (The app is by TM Soft, to help you find it on app store, cos there are a tonne of shitty ones). Whale also has projections, which we reserve for night time to dazzle him as we try to put his wriggly, porcine, delicious frame in his PJS after bath time and he wants to be about 10 metres away, playing with something like a power socket or pair of scissors.

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Lamby

My friend Bron gave me this plush baby mat at my baby shower. “It’s ugly as fuck but God it’s useful,” she said. BOY WAS SHE RRRRITE. We used it the day he came home from hospital as a little mat, and are still using it now he’s one. (I keep it in the bathroom, he lays on it before and after the bath, giggling and nude and jacked up on heat lights and nudity.) I tell all new parents to get one. So useful.

 

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Love to Dream swaddle suits

If swaddling at 3am in a dark nursery after a feed, a 45-minute burping session and an explosive shit becomes frustrating, jam your darling into these awesome little suits instead. They’re nice and tight so baby feels snug and safe, and they allow their hands to rest safely up high where they want them to be, but without their fingers poking into their eyes and mouth and waking them up. Sonny was in his for every, single, nap from about two weeks old. When the hands became an issue (i.e: he was waking himself up by smacking them into his face) at about three months, we would tuck them down and zip him up. We didn’t bother with the 50/50 suits, we just went straight to a sleeping bag, with a wrap over the top to lock his hands down. Sounds barbaric, but so is being kept awake all night by a confused infant.

 

JJ Cole change clutch

This little changemat roll thingy has been all around the world with us, it has enabled us to change nappies in the pram, on floors and with a whisper of hygiene in planes. I’m not one for a nappy bag, preferring to instead chuck this into my usual tote. It holds wipes and nappies and I jam some nappy bags in there, and we’re done. I love this godamn change mat wrap thingy.

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Como Tomo bottles

Made to be squishy like a boob, these clever, silicone bottles are the only bottle Sonny will use. Fussy little rat. If your baby is a fussy little rat, try the Como Tomo. (They also make brilliant ‘finger’ style teething rings. They are clever company, like Boon.) I give them to as many mums as possible to ‘show them the light.’

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Infant’s Friend

From about two weeks old, babies are gassy little monsters. Their digestive system is not very sophisticated yet, and after feeds it can take a lo-o-o-o-ong time to get that burp out, or that wind to pass. Sonny was a sweet, hungry pig and I had a jet like flow so he would always take in a lot of air, which would lead to up to two hours of bicycle legs and massage at 3am and near insanity for all of us. Like all puzzled, deranged new parents we worried it might be reflux, colic etc, but for Sonny it was just gas. Then a fellow mum recommended Infant’s Friend (all natural, buy from the chemist) for the wind, and we started giving it to him, and IT REALLY HELPED. We still use it now before and after flights and to calm him when he’s teething and pissed off.

Baby Bjorn bouncer

I had three friends tell me to buy this; that were was no substitute. I agree I agree I agree. Sonny could snooze in there from birth, and then, as he got bigger, I propped it against the couch and he used his feet to push off and bounce himself, squealing with delight. That this would give me a precious 20 mins of emailing or laundry or pole dancing; whatever Mum Stuff I needed to do.

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Bonds Wondersuits

As ‘clothes’ up until about seven months, then as ‘PJs’ when he began to look a bit ridiculous in a tight all-in-one in public. We didn’t understand that the arms and legs fold over to make socks or mittens until Sonny was about a month old, which is embarrassing, but worth revealing if it helps others.

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Baby Bjorn travel cot light

Not the cheapest travel cot, but since we travel A LOT, I could justify it. Other great reasons to justify it: It folds up instantly into a tiny suitcase (6kg), it’s a cinch to pack and unpack, it’s super safe, and there is loads of ventilation. It’s a ripper.

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GAIA Natural Baby Powder

All organic, made from cornstarch, and known in our house as The Great Eczema stopper. We slightly panic when we run out of it. A lot of people make their own, but we um, don’t, because we’re us.

 A thick piece of black material

Just from spotlight. We use this to black out the window in Sonny’s room so it’s completely dark and he is not woken by 5am sunlight, we use it and some gaffa tape to keep light out of the bassinet on international flights (and also to cover windows in hotel rooms), and we use it over the pram when we want him to sleep (also usually when travelling.) It’s the best $4 we ever spent. This photo is the material attached (very stylishly) to the blind in Sonny’s room while we were in NZ. Please do a better job than us of this.

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I can’t think of anything else right now, but am hoping that other mums will add their essentials, and then we’ll have this sensational directory of Very Useful Baby Stuff, because if anyone needs some help and direction as to what will make life easier, it’s new parents.

Sloths also need some help and direction, I imagine, because they are slow and finding food and shelter would take AGES, but I’m just focusing on new parents for now.

Responses to this drivel: 76 Comments
04
May

Event beauty preparation.

These are the people, the treatments and the shortcuts involved in my Logies preparation this year. You can easily use a similar approach for your wedding day, 40th, or cincoanera.

You will note the absence of Flaky Jim’s Skin Palace. This is for good reason. NO MORE, JIM. It’s over.

FACE

As I have mentioned more times than can possibly be interesting, my chief skin concern is hyperpigmentation. I am about to stop breastfeeding, and hoping that the final remnants of the hormonal pigmentation will fuck off when that happens, but that said, I get it regardless of cute babies I make. So, I used the Logies as an excuse to do something about it and improve my skin in general.

I will do longer post on the treatment I’ve been having, DermaFrac, for the last couple of months, because IT IS ACTUALLY WORKING, but the headlines are:

  • I have it every 2-3 weeks at Me Skin and Body in South Yarra
  • It takes 40 mins because I skip the dermabrasion bit, I just have a lactic peel, micro-needling and the LED
  • There is no downtime, and it has really broken up my pigmentation and brightened my skin tone. (This is my goal. Wrinkles are fine, it’s the uneven skin tone that annoys me.)
  • It’s not inflammatory like lasers or IPL, which can actually make my pigmentation flare up.

In the final two weeks I had my beloved Omnilux LED lamp (at Duquessa, in Carlton) for a criminal amount of plumpness and glow. I always recommend this to women getting married when they ask, “what should I do with my face?”, because your skin will look heavenly under makeup, IRL and forever and always in the photos. I had four sessions over two weeks, the last one on the day before the Logies.

I have been using Cosmedix Simply Brilliant followed by Go-To Face Hero for super nourishment and antioxidants, followed by  a physical sunscreen in the AM, and SkinMedica Lytera follwed by Face Hero and then Go-To Very Useful Face Cream at night.

Here is my skin with no makeup just before my skin with lots of makeup. All the pigmentation on my forehead and the top of my cheekbones is so light and scattered now. (Clear eyes care of Omnilux. No juice cleanses here.)

*Usually I would have a light AHA peel before two of these lamp sessions, but because there is a lactic peel as part of Dermafrac, I just have a cleanse, the 20 minute lamp then buzz off.

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BODY

I’m currently the Hypoxi ambassador, which means I get to do AS MUCH HYPOXI AS I LIKE. I would be a total dickhead not to use this magical goldpass before an event where I am wearing a fitted dress, so I have been going as often as I can. I use the HDC machine for lymphatic drainage, then the s120 to help fluid retention and tone up. I also walk a lot and do a bit of half-arsed Kayla Itsines at home on the rug while Sonny heckles me about my wussy handweights. (I still have a hip injury, so can’t do the cardio maniac training I used to love.)

I had the delightful Karla from Brown Bodies come to my home to do a St Tropez spray tan two days before the event. This seemed a very convenient option, except that Sonny WAILED LIKE A GODAMN BANSHEE the entire time (scared of the noise? My underwear choice?) and I had to keep popping out of the tent, and running to him and leaping over the baby gate in nothing but my tarty spray tan g-string (I shudder to think of the view poor Karla had) to soothe him without actually touching him, because that would mess up the tan. Not one of my finest moments. The tan was gorgeous, though.

HAIR AND MAKEUP

When I have events or MC duties or photoshoots I call on my cherished hair and makeup sausage, Laura Gilham. She knows what I like, she’s fast and I always book her months in advance so she can do me on Logies day. It calms me knowing she will do something great, and that we will have fun, and that when I say a browny-mauve smoky eye she gets it, and that she knows I NEED a dewy complexion, and matte is the devil and that my length hair is tricky to fingerwave.

I chose fingerwave-esque hair because the dress was so clean and modern in the end, that my slicked down tucked behind the ears look I was going to have was wrong. That look suited a more floaty, romantic dress, but as the dress became more simple, I needed to add some excitement. Hence, the waves.

(This is far too close up. I looked way better from across the room.)

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There is no need to have your “own” hair and makeup artist, of course (but if you go to a lot of events, the convenience of them coming to you can be worth it and it becomes far less wanky than you might imagine) you can shimmy into a salon and get your hair done beautifully, (I recommend Edwards and Co because they excel at naturally glamorous hair) then go to a counter like Chanel, Napoleon, MAC or Bobbi Brown for your makeup. Take references for both hair and makeup so there’s no guess work and no tears. Also a photo of you in your dress so they can see the colour and neckline.

NAILS

I got a $20 manicure using OPI’s So many clowns… so little time. Bubble Bath is too pink on my olive skin, and Samoan Sand can look a little almondy sometimes; this is the perfect sheer, milky-ivory-beige.

TEETH

I mostly just made sure they didn’t get knocked out and were clean.

JUST ON THE DRESS + JEWELS…

I was very lucky to have Mr Magic Gown Steven Khalil (he did my wedding dress, and also a previous Logies get up) make me a frock for the night, and even MORE lucky to have a gown that involved no Hollywood tape, no boning, no corsetry, nothing too clingy, and no cleavage spill. It was comfortable, easy to wear and I felt fucking tip top. This is not normal for such an event. Maybe I’m getting older but I can’t be arsed with severe discomfort in the name of fashion anymore.

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I wore vintage Art Deco jewels from Keshett, which I loved. I went black as a nod to the belt. As usual no clutch because I am likely to get it wrong, so my husband just puts my lipstick and phone in his garter.

Keshett Jewellery

Here is said husband, and the reason I am even at the Logies, the handsome, funny, adorable, Logie-winning, Gap Yearing wildman himself, Mr Hamish ‘The Bachelor’ Blake.

He really is my dream date: fun, hilarious, cute and GREAT at finding me sliders and fries at the after party.

IMG_7126

Responses to this drivel: 27 Comments
09
Mar

How I get textured, second-day hair on a short bob.

Guys, I won’t lie, it’s taken me a bit of bloody perfecting to get this right – I put this down to the fact my hair has COMPLETELY CHANGED TEXTURE SINCE HAVING A TINY BABY – but that’s for another post/century.

ZoeFosterBlake_JenStenglein
Pic: Jennifer ‘T & A” Stenglein

 

I’m working with hair that is:

  • A total bitch
  • Fine
  • Flat
  • Straight (IT USED TO BE CURLY GUYS WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE I’M SCARED)
  • Slippery
  • Lank
  • Short

Which I wish was:

  • Full of volume
  • F-d up
  • Messy
  • Gritty
  • Textured
  • Dirty
  • Movey… as opposed to wavy. Almost straight, but full of body, with a soft wave. (I flick it over from side to side, real ’80 style, so curls don’t work.)

So. I get a real good cut at Edwards and Co every 3-4 weeks. Also a colour. (I see either Monsieur Jaye Edwards himself, Melvin Royce Lane, or Lauren Mackellar, they are all EXCELLENT and I trust them implicitly.) My natural hair without bleach in it is a floppy, flat mess. I get the ends razored so the bob doesn’t look TV Newsreader/too perfect/daggy.

I wash with a volume shampoo like Redken Body Full Shampoo to remove all product and start the scaffolding of volume. Then I wash again to actually clean the hair and scalp. No conditioner. My hair can’t handle it at the moment. Buzz off, conditioner! I heard you were a snitch anyway.

On damp hair, I spray some kind of volume boosting, body-boosting, fullness product all over. This might be L’Oréal Professionnel tecni.art Volume Lift Spray, which is lightweight and has a targeted nozzle and which I love, or it might be Kevin Murphy BODY.MASS, and not just cos the bottle looks great, don’t be so godamn shallow.

Kevin Murphy BODY.MASS

Then I blast dry with my beloved bright orange Parlux 385, of which there is no comparison, either hand drying the hair (no nozzle on the hairdryer), or (using the nozzle now), brushing the hair in every direction, across, over, both sides, with my Denman Styling brush, of which there is also no comparison. This creates more volume. More air in the hair.

parlux_385_powerlight_orange

I then go to bed. I never tong freshly washed hair. It sucks. Hair needs to be a bit lived in so the curl will hold.

Next morning, it’s about shaping the hair. Not curling. Shaping.

THE TWO-MINUTE ROUTE:

Wake up, take something “gooey” and thickening and run it through the hair, all over, to give the hair movement and thickness and a mild ‘wetness’, like Kevin Murphy UN.DRESSED. (Your chap’s matte texture clay could even work here, esp from the mid-lengths to the ends.)

THE PROPER SETTING WHICH WILL LAST LONGER BUT ALSO TAKE LONGER:

I spray in setting spray, like Matrix Thermal Active Setting Spray, then I use either the ghd Curve Creative Curl wand, (I like the tapered barrel for haphazard, I-woke-up-like-this waves), or my beloved Babyliss curling tong. With longer hair, you can afford to leave ends off the styler, to create beachy, lazy waves. With my length, it’s better to get those ends on that styler/tong, because leaving the ends out looks so ’90s and crunchy. So I wrap from the mid lengths to the ends of the hair for approx. 8.04 seconds, then I remove wand, and I tug and pull at the bottom of just-curled sections so loosen up the wave and make it straighter.

ghd Creative curl Wand

Then I let it set. Curls and waves only set when they are stone cold. No touchy til then. (Maybe a light mist of Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode, but that’s it.) Being fine, my hair demands I go easy on the finishing products. (It also demands pikelets for breakfast, but is less victorious in that respect.)

After 10 mins or so, I go through the hair with a wide tooth comb, to make waves blend, and to soften them up.

Then a light dusting of volume powder (Evo Haze, for instance) all over the top of the head, massaged into the scalp, for grit and to zap any remaining floppiness. I run fingers through and mess around with it a lot to get the shape right.

IF I STILL FIND IT TOO WAVY: I spray some sea salt spray lightly over the hair and blast hair dryer on high heat over it for 30 seconds. This will straighten it, but maintain texture.

I add more volume powder and dry shampoo each day for about three days, when the hair finally looks utterly perfect for about six minutes… then it’s time to wash again.

It’s definitely a dirtier, more product-ier is better hair style. I miss lazy top-knots, but I feel WAY more me with short hair.

And remember: the shorter the hair, the shorter the hemline. YEEEEEEEEEW!

 

Responses to this drivel: 17 Comments
20
Jan

A rosacea triumph + the Best Feedback Ever.

Occasionally I get real beautiful emails from sweet babes saying they’ve read my books or enjoyed my columns or used my skin care line and had a great time. This never ever gets tired, and always makes me very chuffed. Especially when it’s from Tina Fey or Beyonce or Michelle Obama or whatever.

But every now and again one REALLY stands out, and makes me cry and carry on like a pork chop and read it out to my husband and so on. The below is one such email, which I have reproduced below (with permission) not because it’s so kind towards myself and Go-To, as lovely as that is, but because it inspired me to dare hope that others with redness and rosacea – that wily, impossible wench! – might also get such results and find such joy and renewed confidence.

Hi Zoe and team,

Just wanted to tell you of my amazing life changing week I’ve had thanks to your awesome products. 

On Monday I took the plunge (after reading a few great reviews) and ordered three of your products (Properly Clean, Exfoliating Swipeys and Very Useful Face Cream), Tuesday the packaged arrived (brilliant turn around on postage BTW) which saw me nervously trying your products on Tuesday night.

Why you ask, did I say nervously!!

 My story goes back 15 years as I have long been a sufferer of rosacea which in the last 2 years has gotten worse with the stress of work and uni taking its toll where I have of late refused to go out and show my face and when I do have to go out (for work or uni) I agonisingly walk with my face down to not have so many people see my red face, it’s hard enough being a plus size gal these days but to be a plus size gal with a tomato coloured and shaped face I just seem to attract to many mean stares.   

Anyway so back to Tuesday night, I followed all your quirky instructions and cleansed, exfoliated and moisturised my face, yes the whole hog (I know you say to start slowly and build towards using all the products but I just couldn’t help myself as they smelt and felt so goodJ). By the time bedtime came around I looked at myself in the mirror and thought hmm that’s weird my face is a little tingly on the cheeks (that’s ok) but what I noticed was that I was considerably less red than I have been in years!!  Worried ever so slightly I said a little pray to my higher self and crossed my fingers that all would be ok in the morning and that I would have no reaction to what I have just done… 

Wednesday morning, I leapt out of bed cause I was curious to see what state my face was in, 5.50am turn on the bathroom light and opened my eyes and all that came out of my mouth was a whimper and a free flow of tears came running down my face. THERE WAS NO MORE REDNESS! NO ROSEASA! It was just my pale-skinned round face staring back at me. As you could imagine with the shock and disbelief I was in I called out to my mum to please come to the bathroom as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. NORMAL SKIN! MY NORMAL SKIN! My mum in a total state of shock could barely speak but what she was able to say was “my darling you look beautiful”! Words I haven’t heard ANYONE say in years…

(This was the part where I cried – Zoe)

To say your products changed my life is just the start of it, since Wednesday morning I look and feel soooooooo different. I feel free and brave to look up and face the world, talk to people and even smile. I feel like I have come back to my old fun self and I can even say I feel beautiful again. No more redness, puffy irritated skin on my face means no more horrible questions like why are you so red?!

Thanks Zoe for doing the years of leg work to get to this point where the product you and your team have created; something so marvellous and wonderful for ones skin is changing not only peoples skin for the better but also (some persons life). From the bottom of my heart thank you.  

Renee 

I was as amazed at the fast turnaround as you, trust me. I of course replied to Renee and thanked her profusely for sharing, and then, cos I am a nosy creep, asked her what she had been using on her skin until this point.

I won’t name brands, but I was frustrated to learn that most of the products she was using were so called ‘sensitive’ or ‘natural’ skin care brands… except that when you dig just a little deeper, they are full of synthetics and chemicals that as her skin demonstrated for the past two years clearly inflame the skin. She had spent hundreds and hundreds and tried everything to no avail. How shit.

My advice: do your research on the ingredients if you’re in the irritated/sensitive skin zone, don’t just read  buzz words on the front of the box. I can only assume that Go-To worked for Renee’s skin because I stringently ensured that nothing in our products irritate the skin. That’s not to say ingredients from nature can’t piss off the skin, but it’s generally that the skin has a specific allergy or intolerance to something (such as citrus or a certain oil or nuts or a low tolerance for acids) rather than it causing the kind of red, angry inflammatory reaction of rosacea.

If you’ve had success with rosacea or redness-reducing products or treatments, share them below so we can make rosacea feel like a real shithead.

*After receiving this email, we have sent the same products Renee used to a group of women who had previously contacted us (we welcome all feedback for Go-To at info@gotoskincare.com) asking if Go-To was suitable for rosacea inflicted skin, to see how they go…  IMAGINE IF THE SAME THING HAPPENED FOR THEM OMG OMG OMG!!!!

 

 

Responses to this drivel: 43 Comments
28
Dec

This made my baby’s eczema go away.

Which isn’t to assume it will make your baby’s eczema go away, but if you’re anything like me (scales, big eyes, cute blue fins) when it comes to trying to soothe and help your baby’s eczema – yes, I have spelled that word incorrectly every time I have written it thus far because I always think there is an x in it – then you will try anything.

Those who know or care about eczema know the dos and don’ts…  I use super super sensitive, organic baby washing detergent for all of Sonny’s clothes and bedding. QV in the bath. I use super natural balms and creams (my own Go-To Exceptionoil really helps, but more on that later). And I am mental about his body temps, because, like his papa, when he gets hot, oooooh, does he gets rashy. After bathtime especially – he’s covered in red splodges, all over his back and trunk. And eczema is exacerbated by heat etc etc.

Sonny’s had eczema since about three months old. This is extremely unremarkable; eczema is very common in babies. It got real bad when we were in Greece and Italy because of the heat, has been consistently bad back home, but got even worse when we arrived in NYC the other week, which was a surprise, because it was snowing. I put it down to the being too hot indoors all rugged up, and sweating and gnashing around in his cot with jetlag for a few nights. But that’s just a guess.

Anyway. It started to get bad. Spreading and cracking and flaking off his body and horrible. We started to get panicked; was it a yeast infection? OHMYGOD IT’S A YEAST INFECTION. No, hang on, wait, didn’t our friend’s baby have something like this and it was fungal? Should we be using something other than the earnest organic eczema creams I was using? Did we need to see a dermatologist? Can you tell we’re first time parents? Does my panic look big in this?

So, we did what any self-respecting parent did, and Googed.

Next day we bought some cortisone (0.5) cream which DEEPLY DISTURBED ME. I don’t even use cortisone when I have a rash. We also bought some new eczema cream, Aveeno being the random pick.

Husband is a man who knows about rashes because he’s had around 4638 of them, and doing the post-bath ritual that night he said, ‘I just think we need to get back to using the powder.’ I agreed, although I didn’t think it was really doing much – surely the thick moisturising creams and oils were far more beneficial? Anyway, it’s a cornstarch powder, from Gaia. We have used it on and off, and that was probably part of the issue, not sticking to one treatment for long enough to see if it was working.

‘Kay, let’s do a night of just cream and powder and see what happens before we try those the nasty ‘roids,’ I said.

We did, and within two days our boy had perfect, juicy, gorgeous baby skin again, the likes of which we haven’t seen on him for months. In fact, ever! He has never not had some rash on his trunk or back. Oh, it warmed our hearts ever ever so much! He looked like a god damn Huggies TV ad baby.

We’re not sure which exact thing did the trick, but here’s what we did and have been doing, both in cold NYC and now back in warm Melbourne, should you wish to try it on your sweet little eczema baby….

  • A tepid bath with a few drops of Go-To Exceptionoil (a blend of over 10 beautifully hydrating, nourishing, completely pure oils). I know you’re meant to use QV etc but I found it wasn’t nearly moisturising enough. Very dry skin needs oil and moisture.
  • Dry him off completely.
  • Apply Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturising Cream all over the body – not just the affected areas. (We do this in the AM when dressing him also.) This is not for sale here in Aus, but you can buy it here, or maybe try buy their Baby Soothing Relief Cream, which has similar if not exact same ingredients.
  • Remove damp towel, and just have him on the bed/change table.
  • Apply Gaia powder generously all over the affected areas.
  • Pop on PJs.
  • Kiss a lot.

Here’s what he looked like before, but not at his worst…

eczema

And two days later…

eczema_cleared

 

And the day after that.

baby_eczema-gone

Pure stinkin’ peaches and cream. Ahhhh.

Responses to this drivel: 50 Comments
02
Dec

Me and my pregnancy-induced Osteitis Pubis: a novel.

You’ll hear women start many a sentence like this when they’re pregnant: “No one tells you that….”

Could be the fact you will snore. You will get fat fingers. You will go up a shoe size and may never come back down. You will enjoy far better treatment at airports. You will get small skin tags on your neck.

But what I didn’t realise was that your body might buckle a bit. Seems obvious now, but as a rookie, I had no idea. I probably didn’t help things much by being a wild woman on book tours and doing events and launching a skin care line just as things (my belly) were getting super big. But life doesn’t stop just cos you are up duff. In fact, quite the opposite. I felt compelled to finish EVERYTHING before my teeny dancer arrived.

HOW I ENDED UP ON CRUTCHES WHEN HEAVILY PREGGO

I now know many pregnant women have pelvis or pubic symphysis issues (such as SPD) but I didn’t know what my these things were or did before I fell pregnant. My own dang sister had these issues and I had no idea! But the weight of a baby plus special pregnancy hormones can mess shit up, so I wanted to write about my experience in the hope that others need not go down the same path. I think once we women have the baby we kind of forget about our pregnancy issues and don’t tell our pregnant lady friends to be aware that it can get bad and to keep an eye on it.

I won’t bore you with the details, except for this whole post, where I will bore you with the details. (I LOVED reading big long stories like this when I was researching my injury, I would voraciously inhale every detail in the hope it would help or relate to me. So, feel absolutely free not to read on if this topic has absolutely nothing to do with you. Bye babe. Love you!)

So… It began back in the summer of 2014, when the melodious strains of Avicii’s Wake Me Up had domination on the wireless and ice cream was popular. I was in my second trimester and started to feel:

  • A niggling ache in my left hip region
  • Worsening pain when I walked
  • Sore pelvis/groin something-in-that-area
  • Pain when sitting
  • Like some more chocolate, actually

For the most part, I just tropped on like a fool, assuming the baby weight was making stuff sore, but that was standard. As it got worse I had some physio and did some clinical pilates, and I did my pelvic floor exercises, wore support shorts, and even switched physios, but opposing opinions and, I think, a general ambivalence about the enormous array of issues under the umbrella term, ‘pelvic instability’ and the expectation of loosey-goosey joints that stem from all the relaxin shuffling through your body during pregnancy led to nothing much being done, except being told to stop lifting stuff, no walking for longer than necessary and no more exercising.

I get the sense a lot of preggos get these sort of pains and they are told the same thing, but I urge you to keep getting treatment and consider a new health professional if you’re not getting any relief or it gets worse or spreads. I left it too long and paid the price. (Approx $4.95.)

The pain got far worse as the weeks went on, it was now in my groin and back, and once I realised I was limping non-stop (around 34 weeks) I saw a third physio, who immediately put me on crutches for the last five weeks of my pregnancy, which sucked a doz. (Some women are given wheelchairs, so I got off lightly.) (Also: Imagine being on crutches plus pregnancy plus having other children! Christ on a cracker!)

 

CrutchesMe on crutches. Thankfully the filthy paps were there to document it. Phew!
(Hair looks shit cos it was in the setting phase of keratin smoothing. Beanie worn to hide it. Beanie ride up and become gnome hat. No hands free to tug it down. Good fun.)

I assumed once my baby was out the issue would rack off, (like my gestational diabetes did – magic! ) but it didn’t, it became inflamed again within a couple of weeks. I noticed I was limping again after something as nothingy as a walk around the block to get some fresh air, I got very shirty indeed, and my husband and I asked everyone in the world we knew who could help. Professional athletes and personal trainers especially. (Bakers and hairdressers not so much.) I dearly wished to roam the streets with Sonny for sanity and exercise and to buy more cake.

NO TO PHYSIO, YO TO OSTEO

I had a bad taste in my mouth from physios so I decided to try an Osteo by the name of Daniela Distefano in Bulleen (Melbourne). I’d been recommended her as she specialises in pregnancy and paediatric Osteo. Long story short, Daniela is absolutely phenomenal and I pretty much attribute my recovery to her. Dan and I have become friends, we gossip about Survivor endlessly, and we both know all the words to every TLC song. See her if you live in Melbourne and have these kind of issues, whether pregnant or post-partum or whatever. She’ll kill me for that cos she is already booked solid until 2089 but I love recommending good things and people.

From having never tried osteopathy, I am now evangelical. Dan quickly got me getting X-rays and MRIs etc and as she suspected, it was chicken pox. No, wait. It was Osteitis Pubis, a chronic pubic condition caused by inflammation of the pubic symphysis (the joint between the left and right pubic bones), erosion of the joints, and calcification of the muscles joined to it. Also had fracture of the left pubis and tendinitis of the adductors and glutes blah blah blah. Osteitis pubis is a common overuse injury in runners and AFL footballers, which figures since I kicked heaps of footballs ’round while preggo. It’s complicated to treat though, the pelvic girdle and surrounds is so brilliant and complex and so much of the body’s movement stems from it.

Pelvicgirdle

Using soft tissue, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques and articulation, Dan has helped me get movement back in the pubic symphysis and greatly improve the biomechanics of my pelvis and lower back. I began complementing this with weekly Myotherapy sessions (very strong, uncomfortable sports massage), with Rick Saunders in Richmond. This helped with the crazy tightness, and the strengthening exercises he gave me to do each day (to open the hips and strengthen the glutes) have helped loads. His philosophy: it’s an instability issue. What’s the opposite of unstable? Strong. So make it strong, woman!

People with OP get very, very down about it, because it can take a very, very long time to heal, and may never heal, in fact. I was in a bit of a dark place one day, suffering cabin fever and unable to walk without pain even upstairs to put Sonny down for his naps, (holding his delicious, pudgy frame was “unadvisable” in general because it inflamed things … I’m all like, yo, have you seen him? He’s impossible not to hold and squish) so I went into Nuclear Google Mode, which is like normal Googling, but with desperation, caffeine and no set time limit on finding what you want.

THE MAGIC MAN

After hours on far too many AFL and running forums I discovered Garry Miritis, who is known for “curing” OP. He was Cathy Freeman’s masseuse her entire career and is very OP-focused. People have flown from all over the world to have him treat / fix their OP. I’d read he was no longer practicing because he’d had surgery on his hands and back, but piffed him an email all the same. He called me and offered me a massage that weekend. I was SO, EXCITED. Fixed? Really? In one massage? Shut your big gorgeous mouth.

I went to his home in suburban Melbourne and had the most painful ‘sports massage’ one can probably have and it still be legally called a massage and not ‘torture’. Garry is a lovely, kindhearted, generous, wise, inspiring man who should not still be doing treatments due to ongoing hand and back surgeries, and does very few of them in fact (he took pity on me being in so much pain with a new baby, for which I am very grateful) which is a crying shame, because he has a very, very special gift. He spent 12 years perfecting his osteitis pubis treatment, nay, fix in which he manipulates and pushes the pubic symphysis back into alignment. This has resulted in professional athletes getting back on the field after being told their career was over, and mums going on to have three or four kids with no further pubis issues. I must have asked him at least 10 times, “You ARE training someone in this, right?” but he would just laugh. Oh, Garry.

osteitis_pubis

In the days following Garry’s work, I felt incredible. I dared to believe I was healed, (the mind is a big player in chronic injury, something Garry is very adamant about) but when the pain snuck back in, I requested one more treatment. Gaz obliged and the same thing happened again, after a few PAIN FREE!!!!!! days, a niggle came back, but in a new area, up higher, on the iliac crest. Two weeks later I saw Dan The Osteo, and while Garry had done incredible things for my PS and pelvic floor and adductors, because of the very rapid, strong change to the biomechanics of my pelvis and hips, the surrounding joints and ligaments had decompensated, because they were so used to holding the fort while my pubic symphysis was out of whack, that when it went so rapidly back into whack, they toppled over in exhaustion. It was pain, but it was progress pain. Huzzah!

Obviously it’s shitty of me to talk up Garry because as I mentioned, he is not taking new clients (especially since he has just undergone more surgery) but there are others around with OP specialisation, and they are the ones you need if you have OP. Not others, them. Because OP is highly specialised.

WHERE IT’S ALL AT NOW

That was three months ago and despite a much better sacroiliac joint (lower back) and stronger glutes I still have pain each day around my iliac crest, hips and groin, and the inflammation worsens with bad weather (really!) period pain (unfair!) and overuse (IKEA visits!) but it is much, much better. I have some hip bone stuff I’ll need to keep an eye on but with strength I should be able avoid that worsening.

I now only see Dan every 2-3 weeks, and Rick every now and then. I get acupuncture and massage when possible. I can walk for about an hour without pain. No running yet. I do my strengthening exercises and stretches and all that boring stuff every second day, but it’s that boring stuff that is working.

Soon, SOON, I will be back to the dang gym! A year after farewelling its sweet, sweaty walls.

THESE THINGS HELPED

  • Theraband exercises and stretches given to me by Osteo
  • Wearing Solidea compression shorts during pregnancy, and their recovery shorts for six weeks after birth.
  • Heat packs.
  • Pelvic floor exercises. You know the ones.
  • Regular Sports massage by a gun massage therapist.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Putting shoes on while seated.
  • One at a time up stairs.
  • Not aggravating things by walking around Baby Bunting to try and finish the nursery.

THESE THINGS DIDN’T

  • Ke$ha
  • Cornflakes
  • Puppies
  • Bubble blowing

Apologies for the essay. I guess the headline is that you mustn’t tough it out assuming it’s “normal” to feel incredible pain when you’re preggo or post-partum, or be afraid to try a new specialist or a new kind of specialist if you have pain that isn’t getting any better. I highly recommend that whoever you see specialises in pregnancy issues, too. Don’t just suck it up. I did. Silly. And don’t assume it will rack off once you’re post-partum: your body is still behaving like it’s pregnant for quite some time after giving birth.

Fun fact: My OB-GYN told me that while you still have the dark line going down your tummy, your body is still very much in ‘pregnancy mode’ and the relaxin is still flowing.

Unfun fact: The dishes need doing.

What did you wish you’d known about pregnancy? Or, more importantly, what would you like to warn other preggos about?

Aside: Hypoxi has been my saving grace while I have not been able to exercise. I signed on as ambassador while still pregnant and could have had no idea how much I would rely on it once Sonny was out and I was cleared to get on the machines. (I had to wait until Dan was happy with the inflammation levels of my pubis – around 12 weeks post-partum.) Even just that 30 mins light pedalling felt fantastic. PLUS I get toned without doing a zillion lunges. PLUS it firmed me up and I lost weight. PLUS, it means I know it works, cos I got results without any complementary exercise. Win win winnnn!

 

Responses to this drivel: 98 Comments