1000 Laps

This January, I set myself a challenge I considered already way back in November.

It was pretty straightforward – Swim 1 000 x 25m laps. In a month.

Today, with a whole one day to spare, I swam the last lap.

 

Difficulty: Moderate

Physical difficulty – I split this into roughly ten sessions, 50 x 50 in each. That should be doable for most people, provided you’re a decent swimmer. If you don’t swim regularly, give yourself a month to get used to long distance swimming before you set this goal. I’ve also found that if I swim too many days in a row, I get shoulder pain.

Psychological difficulty – this is the hardest part. Long distance swimming in general is a psychological challenge. The counting is hard to maintain, hence why I made the choice to use a 50m pool (fewer numbers). Swimming too many days in a row is also psychologically challenging. Others find it difficult to deal with the monotony of lap swimming.

Setbacks: Sunburn. I got sunburn twice this summer, both times it hit my face. Once was during this challenge and as a result, I took a week off. This meant that I had to compensate for a whole week’s lost workouts. I ended up swimming later in the day to decrease my UV exposure. And yes, I do wear sunscreen. The day I burned my face, I applied sunscreen 3 times in four hours or so.

Things to keep in mind: It’s super easy to get dehydrated. The water helps cool you down, so you don’t feel like you’re overheating. You still sweat though. Remember to drink water. Also, sunscreen.

Affordability: Pretty decent. The place I swim at charges about 5 dollars per entry and they have loyalty cards as well.

Physical benefits – I’ve noticed that swimming has gotten easier. 50 laps have become my standard workout when I swim, and that’s longer than before. I feel slightly stronger, especially in my legs. No noticeable physical changes.

Psychological benefits – Most of the time, swimming is the closest I get to mindfulness. It’s a good way to cope with stress and to get away from things. When I’m in the water, I can’t check my phone or sneakily read emails (I’ve caught myself working mid-workout before).

Thoughts: Mostly, this has been a good challenge. The last 50×50 today were rough for some reason. I think having to take a week off due to sunburn meant I had to really make a point to fit all the sessions in. If it hadn’t been for that, I think I wouldn’t have been so fed up with it at the end. A few days of somewhat bad weather didn’t help. So yeah, use sunscreen.

Would I recommend this: Today? No. If you ask me tomorrow, I probably will.

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10k Steps Challenge

Last week, I did a 10k steps a day challenge. Naturally I thought it’s something worth writing about, so here we are.

What’s the challenge? It’s exactly what it sounds like, the challenge is to take at least 10 000 steps every day for a week.

Was it completed? Yup

Was it difficult? I think I had one day where I struggled, but on average I found it very doable and manageable.

What’s the point? The point is to increase your physical activity without necessarily dedicating time to exercise. It’s to show yourself how much you can actually do just by focusing on walking.

Was it helpful? I think it’s quite helpful when it comes to remembering that days when you don’t have time to go to the gym aren’t necessarily wasted from a health or fitness perspective. It’s also a good motivator because literally every step you take helps you reach that goal.

Will I do it again? I plan on doing this maybe once a month, especially if I don’t think I can fit the gym into my schedule.

Any problems? Like an absolute idiot, I decided to break in new shoes. Bandaids and Compeed are your friends. My heels are still essentially open wounds. So yeah, don’t be an idiot.

 

100 of My Favourite Things 2/5

Here’s part two of my 100 Favourite Things List. Literally just a list of things I really enjoy.

21. Lipstick
There’s a reason I collect these. Firstly, they’re a really easy type of makeup to use. Secondly, they can change an entire look. Thirdly, I’ll remain a staunch advocate for traditional lipstick when everyone is obsessed with the (in my opinion) overrated liquid lipsticks. Fourthly, you always look like you’ve made an effort if you’re wearing red lipstick.

22. Nail Art
It’s like regular nail polish but more fun. This is one I made years ago, obviously before the nails were cleaned up.
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23. Scented Candles
I know they’re super basic, but man are they great for making you feel at home. There’s also something about just having candles around that makes you feel warmer in winter, even if the tiny flame does nothing to actually provide warmth. Plus, some of them have really creative designs. Coffee and vanilla make for a great combo.

24. Board Games
There’s apparently a Star Trek themed version of Catan out there and I want it so badly.

25. Productivity Tools
I’m a bit of a workaholic. Feeling productive and getting shit done is one of the best feelings in the world to me. Thus, anything that helps me be or at least feel like I’m being more productive is a plus in my book. I’ve recently started a bullet journal, have a whiteboard that is awesome for to-do lists, use a fitness app to track my steps and exercise, and I found Habitica really helpful during honours when I had similar things that had to be done each day.

26. Rieslings
I’m really boring when it comes to wine. I like rieslings, ideally with a low alcohol content and a good, balanced taste.

27. Tattoos
They are an amazing form of art, enhanced by being on a moving canvas. I’m super happy with most of mine and there’s only one I want removed (original artist butchered it and no amount of trying to fix it has been able to improve it much).

28. Blueberries.
Seriously the best type of berry out there.

29. Pinterest
Perfect for dreaming about things you can’t have, do inspiration boards, and come across ideas for projects.

30. Star Trek
It’s one of the shows that got me interested in politics. It also encourages intellectual and actual exploration far better than other shows I’ve seen. Furthermore, it’s not afraid to be what it is. It’s a sci-fi series and has fun with it. My personal favourite is Voyager, followed by TNG.

31. SkinFood
How this brand hasn’t taken the west by storm yet is a mystery. It has some awesome skincare products and some pretty cool makeup products. I love their hand creams, this one smells of dark chocolate and makes for a fun little keepsake on my desk.
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32. True Crime Youtube
I’ve always been into things that are a bit creepy and weird. The reason why I watch a fair number of true crime youtubers is that I find they’re often more respectful to the victims than many ‘documentaries’ that are designed for shock value. I’m especially fond of Rob Dyke and Cayleigh Elise’s works.

33. The X Files
It’s a good show. Kinda wish I’d gotten into it when I was younger, but it was always on super late. Well worth watching even if the technology dates the show quite a bit.

34. Disney Songs
Want a mood booster? Try Disney. There’s also several good metal covers of Disney songs out there and I absolutely adore it when those two genres are combined well. It’s Disney, you’re meant to have fun with it.

35. Fairy Lights
They’re just really pretty. Got a battery driven string of fairy lights in a jar in the office, makes going in to work on weekends feel a bit more cheerful when you switch that thing on.

36. Johnny Cash
I don’t just listen to metal and Disney songs. Sometimes, I like things that are a bit more old fashioned. That really is how I like to assess the quality of music, if it’s still good years later despite the change in trends and wider social patterns.

37. Equestrian Sports
Far more challenging (mentally and physically) than they’re given credit for. Similar to dancing – it only looks easy if you’re really good at it. Similar to swimming, you get out what you put into it. Sure, you can splash around in the water without breaking a sweat and you can go on a quiet trail ride without much effort. Put some effort in and you’ve got a hell of a workout going. Add to that the fact that horses are sentient beings who sometimes decide to give you a hell of a workout even when you don’t want to.

38. Cheese
This should really be a food group of its own. No matter if it’s just shredded cheese over noodles, or a high-quality cheese platter, I’m a fan.

39. Wrap dresses
It’s essentially a bathrobe that is super comfortable and flattering as hell. Not to mention acceptable to wear in public. These really need more appreciation.

40. Lounge pants
Lounge pants and an old t-shirt are my favourite things to wear when I’m at home not doing anything. Think Geek have some amazing lounge pants, just make sure to buy the unisex model and not the men’s version (unless you’re into having a hole in the front of your pants).

Character Creator: Abigail (Stardew Valley)

Now, there are two things that make translating Abigail’s look difficult. Firstly, she’s portrayed as pixel art. Secondly, her most characteristic feature is her purple hair.
Thus I decided to exaggerate certain aspects of her look but also kept it close enough to where people would recognise the character if the person wearing it wore some type of costume. Sometimes, it’s very liberating to use a character to draw inspiration from rather than trying to copy their look completely.

Step 1: Pale foundation.
Since Abigail is very fair skinned, I used a foundation that’s a few shades lighter than my current skin tone. For this, I used the BCD cushion from TonyMoly. I also decided to keep the dewy look to give the illusion that it’s a natural skin tone rather than opting for a more matte & fuller coverage foundation.

Step 2: Shape
In terms of highlighter, it took me a while to figure out what to do. Abigail’s face is fairly round compared to the many highly contoured looks we often see today. To draw focus to this without looking too bloated, I used a blend of Too Faced’s Unicorn Tears lipstick and a slightly pink toned lipstick (forgot to write down which one, sorry) as a combined blush-highlighter. It was surprisingly discrete and worked to make my face look slightly round and young without being too distracting. The slight addition of the pink colour brought some life into the look without looking too harsh.

Step 3: Lipstick
Abigail has fairly bright pink lips that look rather natural on her. However, that simply wouldn’t work with my current hair colour and would have made it look weird rather than close to the original. Instead I used a purple toned semi-sheer lipstick that has enough pink in it to work for the look, but that’s also a shade compatible with my hair. For this, I used Revlon’s Colorburst lip butter in the shade 085 Sugar Plum.

Step 4: Eyes
Abigail’s artwork hints at purple eyeshadow and a lot of mascara on the top lashes. The lower lashes are left bare and no eyeliner is used. It took three palettes to get a look I was happy with. I started with some of the original Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion all over my lid to make the colours pop a bit more. I applied the shade Milky Way from the Galaxy palette all over my lid and brow bone as a transition colour, used Serpentina’s Venom in the crease, and covered the lid with Cosmic. Then I went back in with a combination of two of the purple/burgundy shades from the Sleek palette in the outer v to add a bit of dimension (and help blend). Lastly, I used the shade Moon in the inner corner of my eyes to brighten things up a bit. Add two layers of Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara and you’re almost done.
The very last thing I did was to use the shade Venom from the Serpentina palette to fill in my brows. Considering it’s a very pigmented and very very purple shade, it worked surprisingly well and helped make the look feel more like Abigail.
Palettes: BH Cosmetics’ Galaxy Chic (shades – Moon, Milky Way, and Cosmic), Kat von D’s Serpentina (shade – Venom), and Sleek’s i-Divine Vintage Romance 141 (unnamed shades).

“Hitting Pan Challenge” Kinda.

Realising I have a tendency to jump between products without actually finishing them, I decided to revive an old makeup challenge. It’s essentially called “hitting pan” because why not get straight to the point. The idea is to commit to using up as many of your products as possible, or in the case of powder based products, hitting pan.

Thus I’ve decided to create what I call a Priority Bag. Simply a makeup bag in which I keep products I want to use up for one reason or another. I keep it right where I normally do my makeup to encourage me to reach for these products out of convenience.

It’s a mix of skincare and makeup, to encourage me using at least some of it even on days when I don’t plan to wear makeup.

So far I’ve finished the makeup wipes and used the powder foundation and lipstick almost daily. I’ve also been pretty good with using the essence and skincare mini. Additionally, I’ve found that this has encouraged me to use more sheet masks, which my skin has been pretty happy about.

The bag contains everything I need for a complete look but doesn’t lock me into wearing any specific look since I can still switch it up if I want to.

Contents: Innisfree green tea essence, moisturising skin care sample from BareMinerals, NYX eyeshadow palette, primer, and bb creme, Estee Lauder mini lipstick, Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, an eyeliner from Marc Jacobs, a palette from Sacha cosmetics, a Geek Chic powder foundation, and a setting/no sebum powder from Innisfree. I’ve also thrown in some random samples just to encourage me to try something different.

The photo on the right shows a quick everyday look I put together using the items in the bag.

Exercise Challenge: Day 3 of 7

Swam 40 laps x 25m breaststroke.
My body was not too keen on the whole idea today and I coaxed myself to the pool with the promise of ‘buying coffee along the way’. As a side note, my shoulders, neck, and head have begun to hurt as a side effect of swimming. Apparently it’s not good to hold your head in a weird angle for well over an hour.

No Mirror Makeup Challenge

This is a challenge a friend of mine has been urging me to do for quite a while. It’s bloody difficult and I’d like to share this struggle with you all.

I decided to do a full face of makeup because why not. I also decided to do something that was quite similar to my normal look.

Products used:
Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream in fair/light
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in the shade Romance
Tony Moly’s Cherry tinted lip balm – applied with brush
Maybelline Colour Tattoo eyeshadow in 35 Tough as Taupe
Essence Kajal Pencil in 01 Black
Rimmel ScandalEyes Retro Glam
Innisfree no-sebum mineral pact.

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30 Days of Products – Lipstick Queen’s Hello Sailor

20151212_130853.jpgOut of all the products that I’ve bought, this is one of the most disappointing ones.

This is an example of a gimmick that doesn’t pay off.

This is Lipstick Queen’s Hello Sailor, it’s blue. It doesn’t apply blue. It’s a mildly tinted lip product that is sold for 37 dollars. This is a rip off.

The idea behind the product is that it’s meant to adapt to your very personal colour scheme and do so in a way that makes your teeth look whiter. It’s a well known trick that red lipsticks with blue undertones make your teeth look whiter, so it’s based on “common knowledge” in the makeup world.

37 dollars is a lot for a lipstick. I’d say anything above 30 is pretty expensive, especially when quality products like Bésame cost 25-30. However, I’ve been known to splurge on good lipsticks when they’re extraordinary. So it didn’t feel too daunting to try it.

It smells of wax. A bit like those lipsticks you used for Halloween as a kid. It smells cheap.

The packaging is good, that’s the only good thing about this product.

It goes on.. mildly tinted. I’ve got chapsticks that give the same effect. I’ve got tints that to the same thing. It even looks waxy and cheap. And it did not make my teeth look any less coffee stained than they really are.

 

30 Days of Products – Wicked Dreams (NYX)

20151212_131022.jpgThis is something unusual, a full palette from a drugstore brand. Usually they might do about five shadows or something, but a full palette is not something you see very often.

This is NYX’s Wicked Dreams palette. It has 24 shadows in a pretty good range of colours. There’s some mattes and some glittery ones, even one or two shiny satin finishes.

The packaging is solid, includes a mirror and it’s just… good. It gets the job done.

The range of colours is great and makes the palette very versatile. This is a good base palette for people who want to learn how to combine different colours but can’t afford something like the Chocolate Bars from Too Faced.

The only downside is that the pigmentation really varies from shade to shade. Some will blow your mind, others might disappoint you. I’d call this a learner’s palette since you’ll need to practice both techniques and colour combinations to get the best from this palette.

I imagine this would make a good gift for a teenager or someone who is pretty new to eyeshadows. I’m happy I bought it, but I’m also glad I’ve got other palettes to combine it with.

30 Days of Products – TonyMoly’s Magic Lip Tint

20151212_131222.jpgThis product is cute. It’s a green gel in a little glass jar. It smells of green apples. When you apply it, it turns your lips into a delightful shade of pink. Just make sure to use a brush or walk around with pink fingers all day.

I’m usually sceptical of pink and don’t wear the colour very often. However, this shade is rather discrete and works well with my natural lip colour. Yes, I like the colour changing gimmick. It’s a gimmick that doesn’t replace functionality but rather makes it… cuter.

TonyMoly is quite possibly the best budget brand I’ve found and it is one of the cheapest. You can buy this product for 5 AUD from the W Cosmetics website. There’s three other shades and this particular one is called green apple. The other ones are called strawberry, red berry, and pink. For some reason that makes me giggle.

It’s a nice charming little product that is good at what it does. The price is is also rather nice and means that it’s a good thing to include in a gift kit or just on it’s own.