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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

All I Wanted Were Leggings - What Happened Was Unexpected

In January 2017, all I wanted leggings to wear so I could be comfy around the house, while working out, underneath dresses, and to wear underneath the 2 tunics I was able to find in December 2016.

I went from store to store at the mall across from my Clark Kent Day Job, and came back unlucky. Nothing. Not even a pair of black leggings was available!

The same thing happened while looking for tunic tops in December - I found 2 on sale that I could wear underneath my t-shirts, which all have shrunk upwards, and have no chance of being worn without a camisole or something else underneath. Unless someone wants a flash of my belly. Woo!

I don't think I'm a weird size or shape. I have an hourglass shape, larger hips and thighs, and short (5'-2"), and am SO tired of having problems finding clothing that is flattering and fits properly. And I'm not willing to spend an arm and a leg on something that fits "ok."

But in a world of skinny jeans and horrible flashbacks to the 1980's and early 1990's, buying clothing to replace old tattered and pilled clothing, and pants that don't fit due to last year's weight loss, is SO frustrating.

I prefer online shopping, as in-store service really has gone downhill. If a clerk even looks at me while talking with their friend while scanning in my order, I'm fortunate. Kids these days (yes, I said it!)!

Anyhow, back to Leggings.  I started looking online, and found Sweetlegs and an assortment of other companies available in Canada.  But...I have a  Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116 sewing machine that is beautiful and runs like Gideon & Fynn in a field of tall grass. Why not sew leggings? 

And that was that. The end of me thinking that store bought clothing is the bomb diggity.  

Where to get fabric was the next issue. Fabricland patterns are awful. And I feel their price point is generally out to lunch. How Jo-Ann's fabrics hasn't come to Canada yet, is beyond me. And I'm not willing to pay the approximately 30% exchange rate with customs, packaging, and taxes on top of it. It really doesn't save me much to order fabrics from the States - even Jo-Anns.  And a tank of gas to Ogdensburg just for fabric doesn't save either! 

So I googled fabrics in Canada, and was so lost - SO many choices.  Where do I start?  

I decided at that point the join a few Canadian Sewing groups, and there were so many suggestions, it sort of helped, but not really.  

I finally found some fabrics on Black Rabbit Fabrics, and fell in love with this Feathered Fabric by Girl Charlee Bolt Fabrics.  I also obtained:
- Unicorns 
- Beautiful Blue Stripe Knit
- Black Stripe Knit
- Geeky Math Knit

My Precious...

Orders are weird - they don't generally come in metres, but half metres or half yards - so you have to ensure you read the fine print as to how the seller is selling their Yardage (metreage?). 

Next up was finding leggings patterns.  I just asked one of the sewing Facebook Groups what their best leggings patterns suggestions were, and decided on Patterns for Pirates Peglegs. From the Facebook group, not only can you share your delight, finished projects, and participate in sew-a-longs and other events, there are also some lovely codes to test out a few patterns at no cost to you!  

First leggings from some old Clearance Fabricland Jersey Stretch Fabric

I love this, as I've been able to discover some amazing pattern designers and chatting with like minded OCD sewers!  And now I'm spoiled with hand holding step-by-step instructions, pictures, and a whole wardrobe to make worth of patterns!  Most designers have a Facebook Page similar to P4P (Patterns for Pirates), and the sense of community keeps me coming back for more!

I ended up making my first and second pairs of leggings from the stripe knits, and used the Unicorns in a Rad Patterns Lucky Bra, and Peg Legs leggings band, the feathers into part of the Halla Soho Hoodie with Kangaroo Pocket, and the Math in a Halla Star Dust tank top and another Halla Hey Babie Ruched Hoodie.

Part of the above bits to my new and improved wardrobe included repurposing clothing I no longer wore for whatever reasons (stains, size, etc.), and I LOVE the effect of mixing fabrics and reusing fabric that still has some life in it!

All of the above patterns have a plethora of different options included, so I could have 5 of the same named top, in totally different styles and fabrics.

I LOVE that I can create a larger hip area vs my upper torso - and it looks natural and fits like a glove!

The patterns are PDF, so I print them on Draft mode on my printer, and spend time taping together the pages, then cutting out the actual patterns based on my sizing.  I'd say 90% of the time, I'm cutting the smaller top torso and larger mid to lower body sizes (like a Medium top and Large Bottom) - but the fit is perfect!

I also find it less daunting if I cut the fabric the night before actually sewing - it saves time and gives me  Project to look forward to for after work.

Cutting has ALSO changed.  The ladies were talking about cutting tools, and rotary cutters - then there's me with the awesome Singer scissors Husband got me one Xmas.  I love them.

But, I had a Walmart Gift card, and ended up getting a pair of Fiskars rotary cutters to see if I liked it, and what all the whoopla was about.

Oh. My. God.

It is like cutting through butter - the ease of cutting and lack of time spent painstakingly pinning patterns to fabric is amazing.  I also used this technique enough on my 8" x 11" scrapbooking resealing cutting board, that I realized how annoying moving fabric in order to continue cutting was. I'm treating myself to an Olfa 24" x 36" cutting board from Cleaners Supply (weird name for sewing gear, but it was highly recommended by a multitude of ladies, and Canadian with dirt cheap shipping). It was half the cost to order this mat, 144 buttons, and 10 bobbins vs the cost of the mat alone anywhere else.

Now - the first time I sew a new pattern up, there are some ripping of seams when I put a piece on the wrong way, not quite understanding where a piece goes, or just pure fatigue.  The second time around is easy peasy, as I've already worked out any kinks!

So - now I know a few more things since my first order was placed with Black Rabbit Fabrics January 2017.

- The online fabric stores have regular enough sale, contests, and clearances, that I know to pay greater attention when it's time to order fabric.

- There are a LOT of custom fabric groups - I'm ok with more popular and not-as-unique fabric designs (at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost). Although I think if the Floral Wars (Star Wars with Beautiful Flowers that I see everywhere...just never for sale in Canada) went up, I wouldn't be able to resist.

- Join Facebook groups - there are patterns for testing, available at no or a greatly reduced cost (for PROPER patterns with superior instructions), support from the pattern and fabric designers, support from fellow sewers, contests, and challenges to make you sew beyond your normal comfort level.

- Sewing your wardrobe is rewarding in so many ways - pride of a job well done, learning new skills, others noticing your unique clothing, and so much more.

I'll showcase each project as I go (and remember)!

I'll leave it at this beginning for now, but can't wait to share my projects!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Next Beachbody Hybrid - The Focus T25 with Shaun T!

I'm like the unenergetic Energizer Bunny.

c/o Pinterest

As I'm really enjoying the Hybrid programs, and they keep me workout out, I decided to combine Piyo and Focus T25.

I'll review Focus T25 here (I didn't review it previously, but completed it early 2015), and Piyo Here.

What is Focus T25?

The only thing standing between you and the results you
want is TIME.
Shaun T experimented for the last year to design a program that delivers the same kind of results you'd expect from an hour-long program, in under 30 minutes. He's pulled out the rest to give you everything you need, nothing you don't.
The result is FOCUS T25—and the name implies the intent: If you focus your intensity for 25 minutes, and you do it 5 days a week, you WILL get results.
This program includes 5 workouts in 3 different levels (so 15 different routines), including: Cardio, Speed, Total Body Circuit, Ab Intervals, and Lower Focus.

I'm trusting Shaun T will help me gain back the cardio workouts I've been lacking for most of the winter (My Bad), and make me hate him all over again.

I love to hate Shaun T - he pushes me to my limits, and I get results.

As usual, I'll follow my own detrimental meal plan, and hope for the best!


1) Alpha Round (aka Learning the moves while sweating like a banshee)


25 minutes of calorie-burning, sweat-drenching cardio

After the first 12 minutes, I was kind of guffawing at Shaun T - this program really brought me back to the basics and my beginnings with Beachbody.

Then we got halfway through, and he made us do squats of various forms. The intensity, immediate sweat, and burning come on all of a sudden - it is awesome!

I appreciate the 2-3 steps from more basic moves into more intense and burning movements - it forces me to focus and work my way from modifying to almost doing the non-modified movements.

I really found this Cardio routine fun, and it was over just as quickly as it began!

Speed 1.0

Ignite your quickness. Burn the fat. Fast-paced for fast results.

This was my first routine of my second round of T25.

I totally forgot that Shaun T had hair...and he looks smaller in this routine compared to his more recent videos (Max 30 and Cize). I'm ok with this.

He didn't glare at me either.

I think I'm not as intimidated by him now, therefore push harder.

This routine is full of quick cardio moves at minute (?) intervals and stretching moves for the following 30 (?) seconds.

Tania is the modifier, and I generally follow her and intensify it up a bit as Plyo moves still don't make my body happy.

There are no breaks in this routine, unless you're weird like me and consider the stretches a "break."

Prepare to be sweating within a few minutes of starting Speed 1.0. It only gets more intense!

Total Body Circuit 

Focus on strength and resistance—without lifting a single weight.

Whew - 5 minutes in, and I'm dripping sweat!

In usual Shaun T fashion, the moves are introduced in a basic method and then work their way up through increasingly intense intervals.

As this is my second time around, I find I'm integrating the advanced move with the more basic moves as I can push myself a little bit more now.  Not quite ready for some of those plyo moves, but I certainly feel every movement and sweat drip.

This particular routine works out your entire body - arms (stupid push ups and planks), legs (stupid lunges and squats), abs (olique twists and side crunches with arm/leg moves), cardio, and core.

Most of the workout I do off my mat, otherwise a slip & fall would be happening - the moves are dynamic and move around.

If you have weak wrists, wear your workout gloves - mine come about 4" above my wrists, and are the only way I can plank and push up at all.

Ab Intervals

Cardio and ab intervals that shred the fat from your midsection.

This is definitely one workout that I need my wrist protection for - most people use them for weight lifting, but I have weak wrists, so need the extra support when planks and push ups are involved.

Each set includes a basic move, intermediate move, and the full move, followed with a cardio interval.

I grunted and groaned my way through this workout, but that's a good thing, right?

Not quite a sweat induced by some of the other routines, but the following day, my abs told me I did a good workout!

Lower Focus

Focus on your lower-body muscles—the key to burning fat and kicking up your metabolism.

Your behind will burn and curse Shaun T with the amount of Lunges, Squats, and other butt burning moves - and Shaun T does NOT let you rest. 

On the other end, this is where your workouts start to really burn away the bad cells and brings in strong legs that can balance your body enough to push a tent trailer up your driveway because you're not skilled enough at backing it up with the car.


c/o Pinterest

2) BETA Round (Aka Sweating Even More with even more aches and pains!)

You have been warned - resistance is futile and weights are added to increase your full potential for awesomeness!  Start with smaller weights and work your way up to avoid extreme pain for 2-3 days after your workouts.

Core Cardio

Get your sweat on! This progressive cardio-core workout is about you getting shredded fast

Cardio mixed in with a bit of fun!  I actually really enjoy this routine. 

The Air Planks are pretty fun - and I even did the regular version instead of modified - don't get me wrong, you still get a fabulously sweaty workout with the modified moves, but it is nice to eventually push your limits and go full out some days

Speed 2.0

Rev up with Shaun's calorie-scorching, core-focused speed drills.

Speed to has your legs higher, no breaks, and your cardio going off the charts.


Shaun t is hardcore, and I want to slap him silly mid way through, but I actually love the beats of the music in conjunction with the moves - it keeps me going strong the entire workout.

Rip't Circuit

Cardio … upper body … legs … abs … repeat! This is how you get ripped in 25 minutes.

More weights. Don't overdo it, or you won't be able to make it through the routine!  10lbs or less, or you will regret it!

You'll enjoy more squats, planks, curls, and push ups - most of them with weights!  Working two body parts out at the same time is efficient and boosts your body into working while you're not working out!

Dynamic Core

You'll go from vertical to horizontal and back again in this dynamic, crazy core routine.

Shaun T tries to break you with this routine.  You really ARE up and down - abs work, contractions, and beyond - there are 7 standing core exercises, and 7 seated moves.  Then Shaun T is a jerk and makes you repeat the rounds! 

Your abs will "thank" you the day after this routine!

Upper Focus

Shaun will help you develop the upper body of your dreams. All you have to do is FOCUS.

I am not strong with my arms, and this routine pushes my limits with push ups, row, presses, curls, and weights!

You do have the option of using a band, but I prefer weights for the mostpart. 

Definitely do some extra stretching of your arms afterwards to avoid extreme pain the following day!


I love Shaun t, and will integrate this program over and over again with any other program as a Hybrid.

Shaun T's intense glares of love fuel me through each and every routine!

The Next Beachbody Hybrid - The Piyo with Chalene Johnson!

I'm like the unenergetic Energizer Bunny.

As I'm really enjoying the Hybrid programs, and they keep me workout out, I decided to combine Piyo and Focus T25.

I'll review Piyo here, and T25 here (I didn't review it previously, but completed it early 2015).

What is Piyo?

Carve an intensely defined physique—without jumps, without weights, and without straining your joints.
Using your body weight, you'll perform fluid, low-impact, high-intensity movements inspired by Pilates and yoga. The result? Long, lean muscles, a high, firm booty, and tight, flat, sexy abs.
With PiYo, you'll work every single muscle to stabilize, stretch, and strengthen every inch of your body. And since Chalene Johnson cranked up the speed and the fun, you'll burn crazy calories while you're at it.
This program includes 7 workouts - Align, Define (Upper and Lower), Sweat, Strength Intervals, Drench, and Sculpt.

We will see how my results are, as I'm also just starting up in the cycling season, so I anticipate seeing fabulous results from this duo.

I realized during the last 3 weeks of cycling (in the cold) that my cardio sucks, so doing purely resistance and strength training right before cycling season was detrimental to getting back in the saddle.

Piyo Align - 40 minutes

This workout breaks down the most important and effective moves in the program to help you perfect your form and get the best results possible.

This is more of a tutorial for the actual moves - and I only did this once. 

I spent the majority of this one-time session stretching my neck up to see what the heck Chalene was doing.

Afterwards I kicked myself, as I have completed enough BB programs that I should of known that each session has a tutorial and gradual increase in movements throughout the workout.

Piyo Define - Lower Body  - 25 minutes

Firm and tone your entire lower body while you blast fat and burn calories.

This includes a bit of Yoga with Chalene's Vinyasa flow, but evolves into Lunges of every shape and size, Warrior poses, and balance. 

I definitely have to stretch my hips out afterwards with some lengthy Pigeon stretches afterwards, but it's SOOOO worth it.

My thighs have to be the most powerful muscle in my body thanks to lunges!

Piyo Define - Upper Body - 35 minutes

Use this incredibly effective workout to start chiseling away at your upper body to help shape your arms, carve out your triceps, and define sexy shoulders.

This one was more difficult for me, as my arms are the weakest part of my body for the mostpart. 

You will love Chalene after an extreme workout with Pushups, roll ups, planks (and moving planks), and goddamn beasts.

I had to modify this workout each time, but no one can say I didn't give it my all!

Piyo Sweat - 35 minutes

A traditional PiYo workout that incorporates effective dynamic conditioning, fast-paced cardio yoga-flows, and bodyweight resistance strength training to help sculpt your entire body.

This workout really DOES make you sweat early on! 

It works with your lower body, core, cardio, and goddamn more lower body with squats and the dreaded Burpees! 

I mean, who actually enjoys Burpees?  My knees don't, so I do the alternate version and keep up with the ladies (and gentleman) in the video.

I really feel Chalene does not avoid Squats in any of her sessions.  Even the Upper body sessions.  For seriousness!

Despite my gripes, I love this workout!  Challenging = motivated Systic.

Piyo Strength Intervals - 25 Minutes

Twenty-five minutes is all you need of this nonstop body-carving, calorie-incinerating workout that uses no weights, no equipment, and gives you no bulk!

Ugh - Legs, planks, Core, Cardio.

I do appreciate having the moves broken down into 3 stages, so I can work my way into deeper stretches and movement.  As much as my body screams at Chalene, it also reaps the rewards of this style of workout.  I need cardio. And Strength training. Together in the same workout creates my best results.

Piyo Sculpt - 30 minutes

This workout uses varying tempos to keep your muscles under tension for different periods of time. This generates muscular endurance and metabolic changes that will totally transform your figure.


The movements are gradual, such as going from a basic squat to pulsing - arms included.

My arms and shoulders were burning within a few minutes, and my hips were screaming!

Within 10 minutes, I was dripping sweat, and somehow this workout turned out to be a great cardio and strength workout all in one.

There is a bit of yoga in-between - Warrior, Upward Dog, and Downward Dog to help strengthen and provide gradual flexibility.

My least favourite moves include tricep dips and push ups - but those are things I have to work on.  My arm strength has been lost over my winter choices of workout programs (leg and abs focused vs arm strength).

This 30 minutes flies by, leaving me wondering where the time went!

Piyo Core - 30 minutes

This ab-centric workout hits your powerhouse from every angle to build a strong core, flat, sculpted abs and obliques, as well as a strong and sexy back.

This workout is designed to workout your core muscles - back, sides, and abs.

You might not feel it DURING your workout - but trust me - you will feel it the following day.

The abs and core movements are different from the other programs I have completed - which means Systic is happy as Systic thrives on changing things up in her normal routines to keep her interested.

I totally just talked about myself in 1st person.

Some of the moves I was confused and un-coordinated enough to get the first time around, but practice makes perfect.

There are some curtsy moves, which are fun (to me), and I appreciate the step-by-step moves which start simple and get more intense as the move evolves.

There is also a little bit of yoga (downward dog), planks, and side planks too.

I wear my wrist guards for this routine as my wrist strength sucks, and the guards give me balance and support - don't be afraid to modify moves or to use supports - it is all about building your strength and endurance!

Another routine that left me wondering where the time went - sweet!


Drench - 49 minutes

This endurance workout maximizes fat burning while it works every muscle in your body. It will not only leave you drenched—it will kick-start your metabolism as you scorch away the fat.

Within 10 minutes (so 5 minutes warm up, 5 minutes workout), I was literally drenched.

I'm getting used to the 3 step progressions Chalene uses as part of her fitness routines - and it makes it SO much easier to make sense of some moves.

But some of the moves are so quick that I get a little bit lost and it feels like I'm car singing without knowing all of the words, but I sing anyhow.

There are a lot of downward dogs, upward dogs, balance, and warrior moves - but no worries, as the moves are very fast, so you are not in any of the positions for very long.

This is also a full body workout, so a little bit of balance, legs, arms, more legs, legs, and core.

I definitely feel like a drenched cat by the end of this routine. I love it!


- This is definitely not the last time Chalene and I workout together!  I was skeptical due to the "Pilates" aspect, but there were no Pilates moves with respect to breathing, so I was safe the whole way through!  the workouts feel quick, and I don't get bored mid way.  She talks JUST enough, and is a great motivator!