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The year of changes and transformation

This year has been a very transformational, challenging year, I became a permanent resident of Australia (finally!), I quit my job, I met my nephew for the very first time, I made new friends, special friends that I know will be friends for life, I became a yoga teacher AND I am now much more balanced, self-assured and trusting ME than I was in the beginning of 2017.

Upeksha

Yet in many ways I feel like I was racing to get through it and the weeks just flew by. I experienced 2017 as the fastest year ever. Maybe because it was packed with so many surprises, adventures, new beginnings and challenges that only now I come to realise that it is already over. I’ve spent much of this year questioning my purpose, my place where I belong and the things I should be doing and I like to do. I realised that I have a lot of love and compassion to give, yet haven’t figured out the best way to do so. Patience is another thing I became better at this year. I learned to like the state of equanimity. For me, the “Just relax” just never worked, I am a doer, I love to be busy and I don’t like to “just relax”. I rather am. So allowing myself to be, embrace the unknown and develop a state of “even-minded openness”, what the yogis call upeksha; a balanced, clear response to situations, rather than a response that comes from a reactivity or emotion. And yet, upeksha does not mean to not care or be in a state of neutrality. In fact, it allow us to care more deeply about all things happening and people being. In embracing the unknown, the universe as it is, letting things happen rather than trying to make things happen the way I want, I was able to then change the lens that I gazed through and started perceiving the world around me with more understanding, compassion and kindness.

Let it be…

My yoga journey certainly helped me finding back to my state of happiness, whenever I questioned, doubted or second-guessed my decisions. A relaxed breath, a balanced body, and a stable emotional state do quieten a racing mind, filled with silly thoughts and stupid ideas at times. Life can be freaking hard!  It beats us down, chews us up and ultimately kills us. But if we let go from holding and the attachment to it, there is so much less struggle, pain, and disappointment in our life. There is a lot more calmness, positivity, serenity and joy if we just LET IT BE.

So in my drive to embrace more equanimity in my life I simply let the last year go. I let it be but yet will forget the great friends that I have met and everyone who enabled me to transition, transform and grow in this past twelve months. I let it be without questioning why things happened and whether I made the right or wrong decisions. I let it be just as it was. A part of my journey. I am ready to see what comes next, what 2018 holds for me, my family, my friends.

I hope the year ahead brings more acceptance (for ourselves and others), playfulness, and an abundance of growth to each and every one of us.

Happy New Year! xx
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The view out over Freshwater Beach and the grassy hang out area in front of the beach where to locals hang out, sunbake or gather for picnics and waterslide fun is a winner for Café Calm. It is a cosy place with a little outdoor patio, right next to Freshie Beach carpark, open for breakfast and tasty lunch options seven days per week. The diverse menu lists everything from your basics that you need on a Saturday morning to wake-up (good coffee, healthy acai bowls and smashed avo on toast) to what the locals call ‘master pieces’ for lunch: we highly recommend the ‘blue cheese & bacon burger’ if you’re a meat lover, if you prefer the veggie-option, the ‘haloumi burger’ is a no-brainer.

Beers n Burgers

Café Calm is not just a lovely place to have your morning coffee or grab a weekend lunch, you also get to choose from fresh juices, muffins, slices and plenty of gluten­-free snacks.

Treats & Coffee from local roaster Roseberry

Open for dinner Thursdays and Sundays (4-9 pm), Café Calm is also the perfect venue to catch up with friends or have a beer after an afternoon dip in the ocean (Happy Hour: Thurs to Sun 5-6 pm).

Great service and fabulous food in a casual atmosphere – Café Calm is a great pit stop when you’re out and about in Freshie. And if you forgot to slap yourself before heading to the beach: Café Calm got you covered with a free sunscreen dispenser at their door!

Don’t forget to Slip! Slop! Slap!

Cafe Calm

Address:
37 Moore Rd
Freshwater NSW 2096

Open 7 days
Mon-Wed 6 am – 4pm 
Thur-Sun 6 am – 10pm
Happy Hour: Thurs to Sun 5pm – 6pm 

General Inquiries:
Phone: (02) 8021 5583
Email: info@cafecalm.com.au
Website: cafecalm.com.au

*** Image Courtesy: Calmcafe ***

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Where the locals get their coffee, friends hang out for a late brekkie and lovebirds enjoy a tapas night

Located on Pittwater Road, Sketch is where you want to stop and get your morning coffee before heading to work on the ferry. Owner Leo knows his regulars by name and doesn’t have to ask twice for their coffee choice. But if you have a little extra time, make sure you grab a seat (as there’s not many!) and try one of the all-day breakfast options.

Coffee made with love

Sketch has a very relaxed and friendly vibe which makes you feel comfortable and welcome as soon as you step inside. Owner Leo is very approachable and all about getting to know his customers and having a friendly chat. We came in at 9am and were lucky enough to get one of the two tables outside. We tried the Corny AVOCADO, which showcased a beautiful version of smashed avo on chilli-seasoned corn kernels and a poached egg, and GRANOLA Maybe, a delicious house baked granola bowl that comes with yogurt, fresh fruits maple drizzle.

Corny Avocado

Granola Maybe

The place is well decorated, Leo makes sure he does the bar’s name justice and features local artwork and paintings. The size (Sketch is very small) makes you feel like being at a friend’s place, the atmosphere and staff is friendly, music is great, and you’ll find a great choice of local craft beers in the fridge. We came for breakfast, but the tapas options sound like a must-try, so we will make sure to go back there and have dinner sometime soon!

Small & friendly: Sketch Bar

Take a look at the selection of sweet treats – they are not featured on the menu but change daily. Sketch is baking fresh every morning and offers a range of muffins, brownies and unusual banana breads.

Homemade Banana Bread & Muffins

Leo’s mum also offers Indian Catering and cooks a set menu once a month – but you have to be lucky as spots fill in very quickly!

Book in quick for a Traditional Indian Night

 

Sketch Bar

Address:
19 Pittwater Rd, Manly NSW 209

Opening hours:
Mon-Wed 6am – 3pm
Thur & Sun 6am – 10pm
Fri & Sat 6am – 12am

Contact:
Phone:0468 747 792
Website: sketchbar.com.au
Sketch Bar facebook page
Sketch Bar Instagram

 

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Working from home can be the greatest: You save money on public transport, don’t need to iron clothes or style your hair. Having just started my life as a freelancer, I soon came to realise that working from home also has its occasional downsides. Certain weeks are slower than others, some days you’ll find it much harder to stay focused than when you were at an office. Which means your work days can grow longer and longer or you find yourself lost in a YouTube binge session. Here are a 5 tips that help me make it work to work from home.

1. Create a Designated Work Space

When working from home, the lines of work and personal life can easily blur. You can stay in your pyjamas while on a conference call, or throw a load of laundry in in between tasks. Of course, these are all major benefits of working from home, but I tend to easily let my home life distract me from your work responsibilities. To cut down distractions, I have now created my work space – far away from the dining table and tv, which helps me to focus more on your work.

2. Schedule Ahead and Keep Track

Setting a schedule for the week can be one of the best things you can do to keep a solid structure to your days. To be fair, the grocery store is a lot less busy during weekday mornings, but if you save all of your chores for the workweek you are going to fall behind.

Use a time management app such as trello or toggl, which let you schedule several tasks and have a timer. At the end of the day or week, look at your summary and make sure time is broken out into enough work time vs. fun time!

3. Replace What’s Missing

When working from home you might find yourself feeling a little isolated or restless at times, which can cause surfing the web or scrolling through your Instagram feed a bit too often. If you miss chatting with colleagues, maybe plan a few social events each week to make sure you’re not going an entire week without seeing another person. Change it up – work from the library or coffee shop to gain energy and focus better. If you feel like you’re in complete silence every day, I recommend playing some music in the background.

4. Get Dressed

Yes, it can be tempting to spend your day sitting around in your pyjamas and drinking lots of coffee, but that’s not healthy for your mind or body. If you work from home, plan in some time to actually get dressed and ready, as if you would go to work or a meeting. It will help you get motivated and in the right mind-set, plus you will be prepared for any surprise video conference calls. While the lines between work and home are blurring, getting dressed during work hours also helps to separate the sometimes blurry lines between your work and personal sides.

5. Take a Break

Breaks such as lunch break, take a 5 or 10 minute walk or make a coffee in between tasks can recharge you to do better work. And remember – you would most likely take these when working in an office. Don’t assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you’re home to be more productive. I like to give myself a 15-30 minute break after every 90 minutes or so. It gives my mind time to digest what it’s just done, and come back fresh. A good way to to plan breaks is to divide your day into segments. Plan when to have lunch. Make plans to meet a friend for your afternoon coffee or take a quick walk around the block.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve taken a look at ways to work from home while staying productive, it is important that you actually put these tips into practice. It may take some time to adjust to different ways of working, especially when you’re new to the whole “working from home” or being your own boss idea, but it really does pay off in the long run.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips that work for you!

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Preparation and organisation is the key to successful clean and healthy eating. It’s much easier to cook healthy meals and prep healthy snacks when your fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy and natural foods. As a gym junkie and group fitness instructor, I love a healthy protein snack in between classes, after a big session at F45 or when practicing yoga sequencing with my fellow yoga teacher trainers. I usually bring a healthy snack to our sessions and (not saying this without being a tiny bit proud) my protein balls are just everyone’s favourite! I am often getting asked for recipes for these, so I started putting together a list of my Top 8 delicious Protein Ball Recipes – see below. I use organic ingredients whenever I can and always use vegan or plant based protein powder.

1. Strawberry Bliss Balls

Ingredients:

250g strawberries, hulled
2 cups raw cashews
8 medjool dates
Organic Vanilla Powder
2 tbsp cacao butter, melted
Pinch pink salt
5 tbsp coconut flour
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 Vanilla Protein Powder
Desiccated coconut to roll

Method

  1. Whizz cashews till fine in food processor.
  2. Separately whizz dates to a paste, add strawberries and whizz until smooth.
  3. Mix the nuts, vanilla, chia seed, cacao butter & coconut flour and whizz to combine.
  4. Roll into balls, then in coconut.
  5. Refrigerate to firm
2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Ingredients for around 20 balls:
½ jar peanut butter
2 cups mixed nuts or almonds
2 tbsp Vanilla Protein Powder
20 medjool dates,
100g vegan dark chocolate
50g crushed peanuts
Macha powder to sprinkle

Method:

  1. Line a baking tray with paper
  2. Dollop the peanut butter onto the baking tray in small 5 cent piece blobs (do 20 of these)
  3. Pop into the freezer to harden.
  4. Combine nuts and the protein powder in a high speed blender and blend until finely chopped. Resembles more of a powdery crumb rather than chopped nuts.
  5. Add the dates in slowly, blend and blend until the mixture forms a dough. If it’s not coming together you can add a few drops of water.
  6. Form into balls, sprinkle with a little bit of macha powder.
3. Vegan Cranberry Almond Balls

Ingredients:
2 cups finely chopped almonds
2 tbsp protein powder
1/2 cup chopped and pitted medjool dates
1 cup of dried cranberries
2 tbps agave syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
1 squeezed lemon

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients together using a large mixing bowl.
  2. Blend mixture in food processor.
  3. Form into bite sized balls.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.
4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls
Ingredients for 12 balls:
1 ripe banana mashed
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp flax seed meal
2 tbsp vanilla or chocolate protein powder
pinch sea salt
3/4 cup oats
Method:
  1. Mash banana in a medium bowl
  2. Add in cocoa powder, peanut butter, flax, protein powder and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Continue to mash with fork until all ingredients are fully combined. (May seem dry at first but keep mashing!)
  4. Mix in the oats with a spatula.
  5. Form into 12 balls .
  6. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 3 days (cover up with glad wrap).
5. Chia Goji Berry Balls

These powerful little protein balls are packed with the goodness of oats, chia, cranberries and more! Trust us, they’ll make your morning.

Ingredients for 12 balls:
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup LSA
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup raw nuts of your choice
½ cup goji berries
2–3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
½ cup almond butter
2 tbsp melted organic coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
⅓ cup water
Desiccated coconut to roll

Method:
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the water in a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Slowly add the water to bring the mixture together and until the desired consistency is achieved. Make sure it’s not too wet – you may not need all the water.
  3. Roll into balls, then in coconut, if desired.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.

I hope you enjoy these protein ball recipes. It’s a bit tough without a food processor (or a strong and powerful blender), but you can hand-crush the ingredients in a mortar and pestle.

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If you’re anything like me, then at last two thirds of your wardrobe are filled with activewear. And I love wearing it. And shopping more of it. When I need a new blazer for work or jeans, I usually return from the mall with two more activewear items instead. Sounds familiar? Well, you’re probably one of the Millennials that are spending less on apparel overall, but are willing to pay more dollars on “athleisure” brands.

Not a bad thing if you ask me as it turns out wearing activewear has a positive impact on woman’s health (yessssss to that!). A study of Melbourne’s Victoria University that was published in March this year has found that if a woman puts on her exercise gear, it will greatly increase her likelihood of exercising.

Not that I usually need to hold back on exercising (I love it and I exercise daily), but at least it makes me feel less guilty accruing more stylish leggings and a nice designer piece here and there. Below are my top 5 activewear brands that you might not have heard of yet, but you definitely need to know to get yourself ready for your Spring and Summer workouts!

1. THE UPSIDE

Since its launch, this Australian brand has mastered incorporating prints and colours into its “athleisure”. Founded three years ago by Australian fashion icon Jodhi Meares (former designer and founder of Australian label Tigerlily), THE UPSIDE provides clothing for training, while being equally suitable and stylish for a Saturday stroll down the beach or a Sunday morning coffee catch up with your friends.

THE UPSIDE: Women’s Grey Tiger Rose Cotton Sweatshirt

2. OLYMPIA LE-TAN

This luxury activewear brand was born in London and raised in Paris and combines the two passions (painting and literature) in designer Le Tan’s collections of activewear and accessories. Her collections are full of vibrant colours, creativity and exclusive ideas, check out these irresistible and comfy sweaters on Lyst.

Olympia Le-Tan: Women’s Green Sweatshirt

3. ALO Yoga

ALO Yoga is the new kid on the block when it comes to yoga activewear. Offering comfortable leggings in super cute prints, this brand will brighten up any workout. The wide high waistband gently hugs your core without flipping down so you can comfortably move through your flow. Stretchy fabrics ensure you’ll get into your twists and forward folds easy.

Alo Yoga: Women’s Airbrush Legging

4. KORAL

Originally from Brazil, Rio, LA designer and founder of Koral Ilana Kugel definitely knows how a sexy-sporty look looks like. The performancewear label offers contemporary apparel that combines a supportive, comfortable style with premium fabrics and is designed to push and empower people around the world to live an active lifestyle.

Koral: Women’s Black Vector Jumpsuit

5. BEYOND YOGA

I love this brand and attitude. Founder Jodi Guber Brufsky grew up in the entertainment industry, feeling the pressures of having to look a certain way. Thankfully, she began practicing yoga, learned to love herself and launched BEYOND YOGA, her one line clothing line that designs activewear for everybody and every body. Expect a perfect blend of fashion and function with luxury activewear designed to fit and flatter women of all ages and sizes. Beyond Yoga offers comfortable and supportive leggings, sport bra’s, crop tops and cosy sweaters.

Beyond Yoga: Women’s Lightweight Crossover Tank

Images: www.lyst.com

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When it comes to protein powder, there are so many (too many?) options out there that it can get a little confusing and overwhelming to choose the right one between all these fat burners, WPIs, soy proteins and everything in between. But once you know how to select the right protein for your body, protein shakes and smoothies can often come in handy, especially when you train a lot or if you’re time poor but need some energy in between training sessions or before/after a workout.

For me, the most important thing when it comes to protein powder is to keep my body nourished and satisfied without gaining weight or consuming artificial flavours, sweeteners and other chemicals and synthetic nutrients that are not easily absorbed by the body.

Use natural ingredients and superfoods when blending a protein smoothie. Nuts and seeds create a nice, rich consistency; Use vegetables and fruit for healthy fats and some colour.

My favourite Protein Powder Brands
amazonia

Amazonia’s protein powder tastes good! I am in love with their vanilla flavour and the fact that it is dairy-free. There’s no whey included, which means it is the perfect alternative for people with lactose intolerance who  still want a high-protein supplement. Amazonia Raw protein isolate is made from organic pea protein and whole brown rice (raw digestible protein with live enzymes) and contains a lot of amino acids.

amazonia: raw, prebiotic, dairy-free protein powders.

WheyDirect

Being diagnosed with diabetes when she was only 10 years old, the founder of WheyDirect has always had an interest in eating and living healthy. Her frustration by the lack of quality products and sugar-free protein supplements in the market made her become a manufacturer of quality products for fitness and well-being in the Australian market herself. If you are after a GMO- and gluten-free protein blend, try the WPI with Peruvian Raw Cacao Powder, which is made of 100% grass fed New Zealand ultra-filtered whey protein isolate, Peruvian cacao and stevia extract.

100% New Zealand Grass-fed WPI from wheydirect.com.au

true

Great flavours without hidden toxic sugars and chemicals – I simply LOVE the products from True Protein. They mix easily, taste great and are made of healthy ingredients. For the ladies out there who want get lean – try PRO DEFINE, which is True Protein’s high in protein low in carbs weight loss protein powder. It only contains 3.7 grams of carbohydrates and 1.2 grams of fat per serve. I love the coconut flavour, it has a slight nutty flavour, but not unpleasant at all. I recently also tried Banana & Honey, another great flavour. Talking about flavours – I often struggle to make up my mind about a favourite, so for me the trial pack they offer is GOLD!

true protein: simple, pure and nutritious supplements – protein powders that are 100% natural with no nasty or artificial additives, fillers or sweeteners.

My top tips to help you choose a natural and healthy protein powder:
  • Go Raw! Avoid taking in proteins that are heat-treated and go with protein powders that are made of ingredients that don’t require heat for processing, which results in a higher retention of nutrients within the food, as mother nature intended. Choosing a vegetable-based protein (ideally sprouted and bio-fermented) will provide you with a maximum bioavailability of nutrients.
  • Go natural! Which doesn’t mean you have to go without any taste at all, there are lots of healthy options if you are after some natural flavourings such as coconut, macha tea, turmeric and cacao. Opt for a protein powder that is made from powdered whey or casein or pea, hemp or rice, maybe even go gluten free as gluten can elevate inflammation and cause a range of health problems including hormonal imbalance, fatigue, and headaches.

Opt for a healthy protein powder with no additives and artificial flavouring.

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