Why I keep putting off Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide

Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide is an extremely popular training guide. In fact, a search for #BBG (the hashtag for the Bikini Body Guide) comes up with 6.5 million results on Instagram! And #BBG is only one of the many hashtags related to the Bikini Body Guide program. Kayla is probably the most prominent and prolific social media-based exercise guru. There are gazillions o f before and after pictures on the internet exemplifying the effectiveness of her program.

The Bikini Body Guide is a 12 week training program consisting of advancing circuit workouts and you also include your choice of low intensity and high intensity workouts throughout the 12 weeks.

I have a copy of the training guide myself (albeit probably a first edition), so why do I keep putting this one off?

Ultimately, it’s the requirement for equipment. I’m all about lowest barrier to entry. Following the guide requires:

  • bench [table could be makeshift?]
  • medicine ball [no]
  • dumbbells [yes]
  • bosu ball [no and I’m definitely not buying one!]
  • steps [no steps in my apartment and stepping on a chair is definitely too high – I have tried!]

Ok, some will say that all of the above equipment can be found in a gym. Believe it or not, the apartment gym does not actually have any of these! Ok, a real gym might… I get some of the equipment can be substituted with other items. And if I have to go the gym, that’s another barrier to exercising. That means I have to get changed and get there! Yeah, that’s my laziness!

I also have trouble understanding what I should be doing outside of the pictured circuits. The low intensity is pretty easy to understand and I would fulfil that through my weekday walks from work to home. The suggested HIIT workout of sprints on a treadmill sounds boring as whatnot.

I’m not saying no or never to doing the BBG. I think I’m just saying that it’s much easier to start Jillian Michael’s workout videos. Mat, dumbbells and my body, that’s all I should ever need!



Jillian Michaels – Banish Fat Boost Metabolism

I’m about two-thirds through Jillian Michaels – Ripped in 30 and I decided to try something a little bit different today.

Compared to doing the 30 Day Shred, I have not been as diligent with Ripped in 30. Once I finish Ripped in 30, I will write more about it. I think it’s possibly because I’m getting a little bored of the formula even though they are good, quick 30 minute workouts. Looking at my calendar, I should get to the end of Ripped in 30 towards the end of March.

So, I changed up the formula tonight and tried the 50 minute Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. This one requires absolutely no equipment at all, except a workout mat. Or, if you’re like cheap/lazy like me, a bath towel will do… Compared to Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred, the workouts are much more aerobics focussed, with only body weight used for resistance. Each exercise is done for 30 seconds and then repeated twice, with five circuits in total. Despite building up to a certain exercise level, this video is an endurance challenge. There were quite a few times when I just had to stop. It’s been a while for me to be exercising for this long in one go.

I’ll keep this video in my arsenal, but it is one that requires almost an hour’s commitment compared to the quicker 30 minute workouts. One for every now and then, I think.

30 Day Shred complete!

Years ago, I had a New Years Resolution to complete the 30 Day Shred.

It may be 7(!) years late, but I have finally completed it!

Here’s my take on the program

I have read that there are different ways to complete this program, but I did 10 days of level 1, then 10 days of level 2 and then 10 days of level 3. Up to day 21, I was able to consecutively complete my workouts daily. Due to external factors, I had to take a one day break here and there. Although in many respects I just wanted to get the program over and done with, I think it was better for my body to have those rest days. Quite a few of exercises are high impact on knees and ankles, which might have caused me to developed knee pain at certain angles. I think one of the rest days helped with injury recovery.

Every level is hard and challenging, but I found during level 3, my motivation really decreased. I felt that I could not complete level 3 properly without doing some modifications and given that it was nearly the end of the shred program, I was expecting better results.


Each workout is only 20 minutes (plus a few additional minutes for the warm up and cool down). I am inherently lazy, so not having to get changed and then go to the gym (yes, even if the gym is in my home building and accessible by lift…) plus knowing that the workout will be done in about 20 minutes is a great motivator for just doing it. Minimal barriers means increased likelihood of follow through. The 20 minutes is often over before you know it. As you’re sweating, jumping and puffing through it, you quickly realise you’re over halfway through the workout already!

You can do all the workouts at home with minimal equipment, just a mat and light weights – I used 2kg weights.

You will be stronger, have improved endurance and your tighter clothes should fit better.


You are unlikely to lose the advertised 20 pounds in 30 days, especially if you are “normal” or slightly overweight. Do not expect to be shredded in 30 days! Apparently, there is a meal plan included with this program, which I do not have and did not follow, but I am going to assume it’s a typical 1200 low calorie weight loss meal plan. Even if you follow such a meal plan and do this program consecutively and diligently for 30 days, you will not be shredded. Okay, maybe you can become shredded if you already quite fit and slim, but only wanted to your abs to finally show through or something. Most “normal” to slightly overweight people will probably lose a few kilos and centimetres at most, with some potentially not losing any or even putting on weight. This program is designed to increase muscle and reduce fat. The conversion of fat to muscle, with muscle being heavier than fat when compared at volume, means you might be heavier on the scale, but you should be looking trimmer.

According to other “shredders”, each workout burns only about 200 calories, so it’s not an invitation to gorge on whatever.

The cool down is laughable and you will get injured if you don’t do any additional stretches. She does 6 stretches and each of them last no longer than 5 seconds. I know she wants to keep each level as quick as possible, but despite her introductory mantra of “I want no injuries”, you likely will get them! Like I said above, I actually did get a little bit injured, but I mostly pushed through it. This sometimes meant with some exercises, I could not give it my all.

Although it’s only 20 minutes, I usually paused just before the cool down started and did about at least 5 more minutes of exercise, usually focusing on some of the exercises I could not do properly during the session and also some more cool down stretches before her half-arse cool down. This extended the total workout time, but given that I’m already sweaty, I may as well keep going.

Some people may not enjoy her commentary or jokes or the way she can sometimes contradict herself.

My partner thought the music was like elevator music. I had no issues with it, but I’ve read that some others don’t like it.


Put in the hard work and you will get results. Not fantastical claims like 20 pounds of weight loss, but you will feel and see your body change!

From doing this program myself, starting from a poor fitness base  – it had been a while since I did regular, strenuous exercise – the biggest accomplishment for me was to actually finally complete the program. I didn’t take photos and only lost about a few centimetres and I’m not sure I lost any other kilos at all, so not a massive change. However, I’m glad I have finally completed it! If I were to do it again, I would definitely take photos. Measuring progress by scale and tape was probably not enough, especially for motivational purposes. Speaking of motivation, completing level 3 was very difficult. Yes, the exercises are harder, but I think the scales and the measuring tape just wasn’t shifting enough as I was getting closer to the end.

What’s next? I think I will re-do some of 30 Day Shred level again and then graduate to the Ripped in 30. I do like Jillian Michael’s short workout video style. I’m also thinking about doing part of the C25K again and maybe even some Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. I’m trying to make exercise more a lifestyle thing. If I overdo it, it’s not going to be part of my lifestyle.

Toner Stocktake June 2017

Half a year since my last Toner Stocktake post! Where does the time go? :O

My current collection:

  1. Hada Labo Gokujun Bottle 170ml: Opened this up after returning from Japan with my skin all dehydrated. Re-using this product has re-confirmed this brand’s staple status for my skin.
  2. Kiku Masamune Sake Brewing Skin Care Lotion High Moist 500ml: Less than half now. Very economical, but has a very splashy pump. Both of these aspects do make it attractive for body use. Due to this, I have actually used about half the bottle already. It has had a mild brightening effect and sinks in almost instantly, but has a scent that ranges from sake, ripe fruit to rubbish… It provides only average hydration, so it doesn’t beat Hada Labo for me. Worth noting that from time to time, my skin can get a little irritated with this product, especially when first using it. It could be the fermented ingredient(s)?
  3. Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner 125ml: I’ve opened this for a test spray. It has a pleasant smell and feels slightly hydrating. Not a proper review.
  4. ModelCo Replenishing Rose Mist Facial Mist 125ml: This just sits there now with occasional use for moisturising my back, haha! I feel this is actually a bit drying, so I’m not sure I’ll end up finishing this…
  5. CosRX Galactomyces Alcohol-Free Toner 150ml: Just sitting there, but I will probably use this after I finish the Kiku.
  6. Hada Labo Shirojun Premium 170ml: New purchase from Japan in March 2017. Won’t be using this until I finished the first Hada Labo.
  7. Cinderella White Booster Serum-in Whitening Lotion 120ml: Another new Japan March 2017 purchase.
  8. Cinderella Time Medicated Booster Serum-in Lotion 200ml: Also from Japan March 2017. The “medicated” refers to active ingredients which helps pimples and also clearing general blemishes. I’m very tempted to open this as I’m experiencing more breakouts than usual 😥

I finally gave away the Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion to a friend who rates it highly. Mum actually liked the Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner so much she will be buying another bottle when she goes over to Tokyo! I will recommend that she buys the quite well-rated Naturie Skin Conditioning Gel too; 972 yen for 180ml of moisturiser is excellent value.

Once again, my toner stock seems to be always around over 1L. With a plan for no further trips to Japan for probably another three years, I expect that my stockpile will decrease. Due to the re-affirmation of staple status for Hada Labo, I am very tempted to also to get my mum or brother to buy another bottle of it, but I think I will hold out!

As usual, this doesn’t include samples.

Review: Garnier Hydra Bomb Ultra Hydrating Rejuvenating Tissue Mask

I am doing this review as I received one free packet to trial for a beauty website.


This is a sheet mask from Garnier. Sheet masks are extremely popular in Asia and have been huge for more than a decade now. The main benefit of sheet masks are usually their hydration and brightening properties. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for Garnier to release one of their own, since they appear to be one of the Western brands who actually cotton [pun intended?] on to Asian beauty trends. For example, they were one of the first mass-market Western brands to release out BB creams. Even their Miracle Sleeping Cream, which is currently part of my routine, is inspired by Asian sleeping packs.

This sheet mask appears to be so new to Australia, that I can’t even find the Australian website for it! Here’s the UK site for the product, with a slightly different name. There are three variants of this sheet mask: Rejuvenating, Rebalancing and Soothing. I received Rejuvenating as I was suffering from bad dehydration at the time of answering the trial survey. My dehydration issue has improved a lot, but I always welcome a top-up. The Rejuvenating variant includes hyaluronic acid (yay!) and pomegranate extract to hydrate skin and “boost radiance”.

This works like any usual sheet mask (pretty much…). Tear the foil packet and inside you have a folded cloth mask swimming in serum. The weird thing is that this one comes with a blue “protective film”. I’m unsure of the purpose of this besides maybe ensuring you put the correct side of the mask on your facial skin. Pop the (cold!) mask on your skin and wait 15 minutes so your face can absorb all the hydration goodies. You may get weird looks when this is on your face, but it’s all for a good cause. When the protective film was still on, my initial impressions was that it didn’t fit my face. Once I removed that film, I was able to gently smooth out the material so it covered most of my face. While you wait, pour out all the serum in the packet and moisturise your body with it, so your body can get the treatment too. After 15 minutes, remove the mask, massage the remaining serum on your face into your skin and put a humectant moisturising layer on – I used the Garnier Miracle Sleeping Cream. Squeeze out all the serum left in the cloth mask and continue moisturising your body.

Immediately after the one application, my skin was hydrated and looked more brighter as my redness was reduced. These effects are temporary.

The packet states “1 Mask = 24H of Lasting Hydration”, which is a pretty weak claim. Your everyday moisturiser should be able to provide 24 hours of hydration! I noticed reading online reviews of overseas versions, some versions had claims that the mask provided one week’s worth of hydration! That was probably exaggerating, so maybe that’s why they have toned it down on the Australian packaging.

I couldn’t test the product’s “proven effectiveness” in 1 week of

  • “Fine lines are visible reduced
  • Skin looks plumper
  • Skin’s radiance is boosted”

with a footnote that 3 applications required to achieved. Unfortunately, I only received one packet of this. I’m always grateful for free product, but with only one to try, I can’t provide a better review. So I was a little disappointed that there was one packet in my mail parcel from the beauty site. This one application hasn’t made me want to buy more either to test the claims on my own expense. I understand the RRP is $4.95 a mask, but is currently on sale at My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse for $2.69 each.

Like all Garnier products, this is fragranced. And like many sheet masks, it does contain a fair whack of alcohol, which may cause issues for some people and can counter the hydration claims and could even make your skin itchy and I think it made my skin really more oily a few days afterwards 😐

Honestly, if you’re in the market for sheet masks, I would recommend trying out some Asian brands instead. Brands to look out for include Lululun, Kose Clear Turn, Utena Puresa, Innisfree, My Beauty Diary, etc. These are all affordable brands and per mask are cheaper than the Garnier in their country of origin. However, if you’re looking for a sheet mask that’s easy to buy at your local Priceline or Chemist Warehouse, the Garnier Hydra Bomb Tissue Masks is an accessible option.

Japan again!

Okay, not me 😛

My mum will be visiting my brother in Japan soon. My brother is actually in the US at the moment, but will be in Japan over their summer.

As with any overseas trip, I’m all about the hauls.

I’m slightly tempted to provide a small wishlist to my brother and mum for my mum to bring back home. Even though I only just came back from Japan 😳 I could even request US products, haha!

I’ve got a month to create my wishlist 😛

On the highway to hydration

As mentioned recently, my dehydration required much repair.

It’s now been just over three weeks since returning back to Melbourne, Australia now and I would say my hydration levels have improved significantly. Makeup also applies a lot more smoothly.

This has been my repair skin routine


  1. Washing with warm water only – what is this craziness?! Ever since I started a skincare routine I have never ever done this! My face is still oily when I wake up, but I have found just warm water seems to be sufficient at the moment. Removing a surfactant surely helps with preventing further drying out. Now it’s going to take even longer to use up my cleansers! :O
  2. Hada Labo Shirojun Moist – Hyaluronic acid is one of those ingredients my skin laps up. That said, I’m not sure if it’s my own skin or the constant reformulations of Asian products, I didn’t feel this was as extremely hydrating as previously bottles. Hada Labo are probably trying to push customers to the newer and slightly more expensive (by about Y200) Premium line
  3. Kikumasumune Lotion High Moist – This provides only OK hydration. As this was the current watery lotion I was trying, I continued to use this on return to Australia, but I don’t think Kiku will be a staple in my routine. The cheap price (around Y600) for 500ml and quick to use pump are really good points of this product though. There might be a very subtle brightening effect too? However, the pump is really splashy and the scent changes from sake, rubbish on a hot day (yes…) to strawberries and bananas, That said, don’t be surprised if I buy this again in the future.
  4. DHC Amenity Olive Gold Series Gel Lotion – This is more viscous than steps 2 and 3, so I feel this acts like a humectant, as well as having great hydration properties. No web link for this one, as, uh, this is a hotel only line from DHC… And of course, no way to replace this one once I run out. 😳
  5. Garnier Miracle Sleeping Cream – I received this as a competition win and it’s definitely a humectant moisturiser high in silicones. This is something I would usually never buy, although the site says it’s apparently influenced by Asian skincare trends. The most interesting thing about this product is its bouncy texture. Once you take an amount out, after a few hours the remaining product flattens and smooths out again and looks like a new untouched jar! However, this is strongly fragranced (don’t use near eyes or broken skin) and the alcohols in the ingredient listing concern me, even though they are considered “fatty alcohols”.
  6. Sunscreen (currently Cancer Council Peppa Pig SPF50+ Spray – a competition win :P)  and makeup

My PM routine is the same, except I do use a cleanser and I don’t use sunscreen and makeup. My current night cleanser is Neutrogena Deep Clean or ModelCo Cleansing Gel. Both of them are OK cleansers, but they are nothing to write home about and I’m just waiting to use them up before I can move on to others in my stash. With really stubborn dry patches I used Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream as my step 6 at night, but only used this a few times.

So, that sums up the products I used to hydrate my skin. Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved full hydration (e.g. pores are still very visible) nor should you run out and buy all of these products now. I would attribute a lot of my progress to mainly being back in Melbourne (climate) and the Hada Labo. The rest of the products just happened to be the ones I am currently trying out and have cooperated with my skin.