Monthly Archives: January 2023

Peer Review 1: ASL Sandbox

This is a peer review for Alyssa’s website — ASL Sandbox. 

ASL Sandbox is a “design sandbox” themed website where Alyssa showcases her creative portfolio and design-related projects. The website is set with a sans serif font and an easy-going yet professional tone, which works for the kind of content she is showcasing. Theme colours are black and white with yellow buttons, and there is ample negative space on either side of the pages. 

HOME PAGE

ASL Sandbox Homepage
ASL Sandbox Homepage

 

The “Home Page” is fairly neat and simple. Lay-out appears strong and coherent, and I get the vibe of straight-forwardness from just looking at the home page. The tone of the text seems kind yet stern, adding to the overall aesthetic of the site. Alyssa writes about the variety of different projects and creative works she has done so far, and the ones she wants to highlight are placed right below the text. 

I think a bit more information about the projects, the inspiration behind them and slightly more colour to the theme would make the “Home Page” stand out more. A solid logo would also work. 

ABOUT

ASL Sandbox's "About" page
ASL Sandbox’s “About” page

 

This is perhaps my favourite page on this website. The photograph chosen is warm, friendly and inviting (and Alyssa looks great in it!). The text comes before and after the photo, which also works well for the viewer as it feels like she has important things to say, and not just about her brand, but also herself. A little more information about Alyssa’s passions beyond design, what her likes and dislikes are, what she likes to do in leisure time, if she has pets or not — these things might add to the personal touch in the “About” section and make it even more inviting. Otherwise it looks wonderful!

 

PROJECTS

ASL Sandbox's "Projects" page
ASL Sandbox’s “Projects” page

 

The “Projects” page is fairly simple and it works — it consists of the major design projects Alyssa undertook over time. There are different kinds of projects, like “Illustrations” or the “Vogue Magazine” cover. This shows her versatility and this is what her audience will search when looking at her portfolio for various job opportunities. 

Again, I think the page could have some more colour and warmth to it. What inspired you to get into these projects, what drew you to them? Your motivations and stories behind the work that you do makes your work stand out from others and might increase your possibility of getting hired for the position/job/opportunity that you are seeking.

Overall, Alyssa’s website is off to a wonderful start. I think a slightly more personalized touch that showcases her personality will make this website even more appealing and make it stand out, as I mentioned before. 

Also, why did you name your site ASL Sandbox? ASL is usually associated with American Sign Language, but putting the reason for why you chose the name will also add more depth to the site.

You’re doing amazing so far, Alyssa! 

Peer review #1

Lifting with Lita home page screenshot

For my first peer review, the website and brand that I’ll be diving deeper into is http://litalising.com/blog/ created by Lita! First impressions looking at Lita’s homepage, I really love the way she has used colours, headings, and links. Her website feels really cohesive, organized, and that I can find whatever I need! I can tell immediately through her aesthetic, homepage title, images, and all of the information and value she is providing on her page, that her brand is about empowering and provide tips around working out and weightlifting. As someone who also loves working out and going to the gym, I feel how passionate Lita is about it as well through her posts and it makes me want to continue to follow along with her content. 

I also really love Lita’s logo, fonts, and overall vibe and branding that she has created so far. One suggestion I have in terms of font and colour is to beware of the readability of the lighter colour text on top of the bright pink background of the website. I love the pink and I really think that Lita should keep it as her main brand colour because it expresses her vibe and values, but I think the text colour may be read easier if it was a brighter white. In class we talked about the importance of having a few main colours in a brand colour palette, and I think it would be great if Lita added some more neutrals with the bright pink to tone it down a little bit for a better feel and readability when on her website. 

As mission statements define a brands values (Forsey, 2021), I feel that Lita’s values defined on her homepage overall aligns really well with her mandate, which is “to provide a motivational outlet of advice, tips and relatable content for new or current weightlifters” located at the top of her homepage. As mentioned by Seth’s blog, it’s important that a brand has a unique design and core values, so I think it’s great that Lita has included that she aims to inspire and motivate others through her content as well as provide value through tips in her mission statement.

Overall, I think that Lita’s brand is clear and cohesive! Her posts such as “Confidence: A Key Factor In Reaching Your Goals” and “How to Start Your 2023 Fitness Journey Today” demonstrate that she aims to provide tips and value especially for beginners in the gym or people wanting to get into working out more regularly. I noticed at the end of her posts she finishes off by saying “contact me” for any fitness related questions or to talk about the gym with her, which I think gives a big sister feel to her audience and that she’s approachable if you want to connect with her. I really love Lita’s website and values so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her website progresses throughout the term!

References

December 13, 2009. (2020, December 17). Define: Brand. Seth’s Blog. Retrieved from https://seths.blog/2009/12/define-brand/

Forsey, C. (2021, January 25). Here’s how to write an impressive personal mission statement. HubSpot Blog. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/personal-mission-statement

Peer Review #1

If you’re interested in improving your skincare routine, Skincare with M offers a variety of tips and tricks for her readers.

Marilyn is developing her professional self through a skincare blog. The overall design and theme is simplistic and appealing. Her menu consists of a ‘home’ page, ‘About me’, ‘Skincare routine’, ‘Product favs’, ‘Self care’, and ‘Body care’. Her homepage contains a search bar option at the top of the page for easy access. She links her social media accounts at the bottom of her page, and includes a footer with her menu items again. To invite users to visit her social media pages, I would consider moving these icons to the top of the page, so it is one of the first things they look at.

Her homepage is aesthetically pleasing and aligns with her brand, such as the image of the girl applying a product in the mirror, or the image showing various skincare products. She is showing her audience what kind of website it is, so it will encourage the reader to look further. One note is to change the links of the images, as when you click on them, it takes you to a 404 error page. Linking it to the pages on the website will keep the reader engaged.

I like the font as it is simple, but I would recommend increasing the font size so it’s easy to read. Additionally, the handwritten font is a little difficult to read, so it may be worth changing that to another font style. She has added an accessibility bar to her home page to allow users to change font size, contrast, light background, and more. That will appeal to users who look for accessibility options on websites. I think this is a great option for users with accessibility issues. This is something I have yet to implement to my website, but this has given me inspiration for how I can go about putting this on my website whether its a small icon like Marilyn did, or its own menu bar somewhere on the page.

In the browser tab, I can see her M logo for her website. According to McLaughlin, a brand is essentially the equivalent of a trademark. This M should be the trademark for her website so that when people see it, they can identify her brand. Another option would be to incorporate the whole title ‘Skincare with M’ as a logo to place at the very top of her website. Quartz Obsession talks about brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent Paris have created new logos to look minimalistic, but end up looking boring or unappealing to the viewers. Making the logo the centre of the website will engage and draw viewers in. It will improve the brand recall and invite more website traffic.

I see two potential mission statements on her home page, one below her title/name and one in the middle of the page. Her tagline says ‘The ultimate guide to feeling confident in your own skin’, and the statement in the middle of the page says ‘Inspiring others to level up their skincare regimes through providing tips and tricks on skincare routines and products based on my own personal knowledge and experiences’. The first one sounds more like a brief tagline to draw readers in, but the second one clearly states her intentions for this website. If we look at Young’s ‘Mission, Vision, Values, Mandate: an “Aha!” Moment’, I think Marilyn incorporates these aspects into her mission statement. As a mission or mandate, she is clear about her outcome, which is to inspire others to level up their skincare regimes, as a result of reading her tips and tricks. This also ties into her vision of a new skincare regime for everyone. She implements her values well, focusing on her personal experiences and knowledge.

Something to note here in terms of developing a professional self is to be wary of using personal experiences to provide tips about skincare, as not everyone’s skin reacts the same way to certain products and whatnot. I would recommend putting a disclaimer in blog posts that it may not work for everyone, or warning them about the ingredients in the product. I also think providing links to research from dermatologists regarding skincare routines would increase the authenticity and credibility of her brand. As a reader, I would want to know what professionals think about the products used or the routine in question.

In terms of content, I think it’s unique and creative, while also staying true to her brand. Posts like ‘My step-by-step natural everyday makeup routine‘ or 3 reasons you need to start shaving your face offer different kinds of content according to her audience. Showing her makeup routine may inspire others to use similar products or follow the same style, while a post about facial shaving offers something different and provides perspective, especially to those who are skeptical or unsure about applying new methods to their skincare routine. I like that she mixes her content with advice and her own preferences for a more versatile and authentic brand. As I said before, I would incorporate research into the product posts to build trust with her audience.

Overall, I really like Marilyn’s skincare website, and I think she is doing a good job of developing her professional self. I think her design and content are consistent, and her mission statement is clear and intentional. As someone who is trying to work on skincare in 2023, I would absolutely look at Marilyn’s website for tips and inspiration!

Check out her website here: https://marilynbrimacombe.com/

Course Links:

https://www.youngassociates.ca/news/2016/2/29/mission-vision-values-mandate-an-aha-moment

https://qz.com/emails/quartz-obsession/1539009/logo-bashing?utm_source=email&utm_medium=quartz-obsession

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerrymclaughlin/2011/12/21/what-is-a-brand-anyway/?sh=d54dae62a1b1

Disparities in Social Media

As a new semester rolls out, this website is about to go through some changes. But worry not! They aren’t bad changes. 

We’re doing a rebrand, girls!

CaffeinatedTammy is going to hold its essence, but turn into more a commentary site which will focus on gender and BIPOC disparities in social media, and how it influences the regular folks like us! For years, I have been told that a woman of colour will always have to work three times the amount of a work a white man does. Why? Because we fight two battles at the same thing — Gender, and Racism. Add Colourism to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a disparity trifecta, something most Brown women have to tackle when they live in the West. 

I had always been concerned about such disparities in our society, but it enhanced by a tenfold when I moved from India to Canada in 2019. Then COVID-19 hit, and the TikTok surge took us to a hermit-like stage, where all we care about is what people are posting on their social media. 

This past few months, we all saw the rise of Alix Earle, a content creator who blew up on TikTok in December 2022. Her rise to fame and being dubbed the “It Girl” of social media happened in a mere span of months, which is unusual. It sparked conversations around her social media growth and people even used the tags “Alix Earle social media growth” a ton in their feeds. A 22 year old white woman studying in University of Miami, Alix has become popular due to her friendly and friend-like persona, which her followers love and adore.

But what strikes me as odd, is how easy and quick it is for white women to gain a following and popularity, compared to her pop counterparts? This requires a disclaimer: I view Earle’s content, and I do follow her on social media. I think her content is wonderful and engaging, and there is nothing wrong with gaining over a million followers over the short span of a few months. This series of calling out disparities isn’t to attack Earle, but to bring attention to how hard BIPOC women are working to gain the same access to opportunities that Earle has gotten in mere months. 

The main POC influencer I want to focus on is Alix Earle’s friend and another popular content creator, Monet McMichael. With a following of 2.4 million followers, McMichael is a fan-loved influencer. However, she has been working in this position for much longer than Earle, and her social media content is very similar to the former’s. What strikes me as different is their journey to popularity on TikTok and Instagram, where Earle leads the scoreboard, despite being a fresh, new influencer. 

Alix Earle's Instagram page screenshot Alix Earle’s Instagram page screenshot with a follower count 

Monet McMichael's Instagram page screenshot Monet McMichael’s Instagram page screenshot with a follower count 

Through the weeks, I will focus on the different ways influencers gain following and make their followers feel engaged and special, starting with McMichael. 

Confidence: A Key Factor In Reaching Your Goals

Jumping straight into weightlifting without any experience or idea of where to start is easier said than done, and it starts with confidence.

Some of my followers mention not feeling confident enough to work out in public, and often express hesitation and nervousness about going to a public gym. It also stems from not having a plan in place, which is normal if you haven’t lifted weights before, and you haven’t figured out your goals. Speaking from personal experience, it takes time, effort, and courage to break out of your shell and feel confident enough to not worry about the people around you, whether you think you’re doing something wrong, or people looking.

Confidence is a key factor in reaching your fitness goals because if you don’t believe you can achieve your goals, you don’t have the mindset or motivation to do so. It’s normal to feel unsure of yourself when you’re learning something new. I go into detail about overcoming shyness in the gym in this blog post, but there’s more to it than buying the right clothes or listening to the right kind of music. Developing the right mindset will make all the difference in your fitness journey.

It’s helpful to break it down into a few steps, and ask yourself these questions:

Why do you want to start working out?

This question helps you get to the root of why you’re at the gym, and using that as your motivation to keep working. 

What are you hoping to get out of this experience?

Determine your goals and expectations, and remember you won’t get results overnight. If you start to doubt yourself, focus on your end goal, and how you want to get there. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move a few steps forward.

How will you reach your goals?

Knowing how you intend to reach your fitness goals will allow you to feel more confident and organized in your plan, rather than showing up and winging it. If that works for you, that’s okay too. I like to have a workout plan each day and adjust it depending on my mood, energy, and what’s available. Check out my recent post about choosing the right workout split, which is a good place to start.

What motivates you? 

When you go to the gym, think about what motivates you to finish your workout. Is it music, pre-workout or the voice in your head telling you to keep going? It can be anything, as long as it helps you meet those goals.

These questions will help you figure out what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what will you make you keep going. They all work towards your mindset, which helps build confidence and assurance. There are other simpler ways to feel confident, similar to feeling less shy, like wearing appealing workout clothes or following a workout video on TikTok or YouTube. I wanted to approach this key factor from a personal standpoint that doesn’t require using external sources, but rather trying to work with yourself.

Contact me to learn or discuss more!

How to Pick The Right Workout Split

Are you wondering how to plan your workouts every week to get the best results? Let’s talk about different workout splits, and how they can help you reach your fitness goals!

Things to Consider

When picking your workout split, here are a few things to consider, according to this article:

  • Time
  •  Goals
  •  Experience
  •  Rest & Recovery
  •  Age

You want to hit every muscle group in a workout split, but how to do so will depend on these factors, namely your fitness goals, availability to commit to a workout split, and how much recovery your body will need. Your workout split may not be the same as others, and that’s okay.

Here are three common workout splits to use or incorporate into your workout routine:

Upper/Lower Workout Split

The Upper/Lower Body workout split is suitable for beginner lifters, or people on a time crunch in the mornings. The important thing is to target each muscle group, and do a little bit of everything. Your upper body days should include the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Your leg days may target the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. Ultimately, you can do whatever is comfortable. Your upper/lower split may look something like this:

  • Monday: Upper Body
  •  Tuesday: Lower Body
  •  Wednesday: Rest or Cardio
  •  Thursday: Upper Body
  •  Friday: Lower Body
  •  Saturday: Full Body
  •  Sunday: Rest Day

Or something like this:

  • Monday: Upper Body
  •  Tuesday: Lower Body
  •  Wednesday: Rest
  •  Thursday: Upper Body
  •  Friday: Lower Body
  •  Saturday Rest
  •  Sunday: Rest/Cardio

The first example is similar to what I did when I started lifting, and eventually, once I became more comfortable and made goals for myself, I adjusted accordingly. I incorporated a day of cardio or the option of a recovery day and included a full-body workout. This may work for people who need to take that day off in the middle of the week, or need time to get used to lifting. The other example may work better for people who are getting used to the gym and need more recovery. Over time, you may decide you don’t like chest exercises, and that’s okay! You’ll figure out what you like, and what goals you want to achieve.

Push/Pull/Legs Workout Split

This was my go-to workout split for a year, and it works for a lot of people. It consists of a push day, a pull day, and a leg day. Push day involves exercises that require you to push the weight away from you such as chest, shoulders and triceps, whereas pull days include exercises that you pull towards you, like back and biceps.

Here are a couple examples:

  • Monday: Push
  •  Tuesday: Pull
  •  Wednesday: Legs
  •  Thursday: Push
  •  Friday: Pull
  •  Saturday: Legs
  •  Sunday: Rest

Another example:

  • Monday: Push
  •  Tuesday: Glute and Hamstrings
  •  Wednesday: Pull
  •  Thursday: Quads and Calves
  •  Friday: Total Upper Body
  •  Saturday: Legs
  •  Sunday: Rest

The first example is the most common and popular option, however, I included the second example for people who get bored with their workout splits easily and need more variation. I still incorporated the push-pull-legs split however I adjusted it to target specific muscle groups like glutes and quads and have a day dedicated to the full upper body. The only downside to this split is that I feel like the push day is a volume-heavy day, by trying to hit the chest and shoulders on the same day. Nonetheless, it is a good split if you are ready to challenge yourself and reach your goals.

Arnold Split

This workout split belongs to none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest bodybuilders known to many. This is my current workout split, and it’s been working for me for nearly a year. It consists of 4 arm days and 2 leg days for optimal results. It may not work for everyone, but I feel this has helped me improve my strength by changing up my arms days. Keep in mind, Arnold used performance-enhancing substances to aid his gains, so don’t be fooled.

It looks something like this:

  • Monday: Chest & Back
  •  Tuesday: Shoulders & Arms
  •  Wednesday: Legs (Glute focus)
  •  Thursday: Chest & Back
  •  Friday: Shoulders & Arms
  •  Saturday: Legs (Quad focus)
  •  Sunday: Rest

This example is almost identical to what the Arnold split actually is, however, I altered it according to my own preferences, as can you! He exercised his abs every day, and while I probably should do that too, I engage my core in all of my lifts anyway. I added a glute-focused leg day and a quad-focused leg day so I can focus on different exercises for each leg day.

Takeaway

The takeaway from all of this is that these workout splits alone won’t get you the results you need, but they’re a great start to achieving your goals. Using PEDS won’t get you those results, but rather following a routine, applying progressive overload, and consuming enough protein.

The important thing is to do what works for you! Each workout split is a little bit different from the other, and it takes time to figure out what works best for your body and goals.

Stay tuned for more and contact me if you want to chat about fitness!

How to Start Your 2023 Fitness Journey Today

If you didn’t make it to the gym on January 1st, that’s okay, you’re not alone. I’m here to tell you my motto of today: It’s Not Too Late To Start Today.

Two years ago, I started going to the gym, and it wasn’t on January 1st like most people. I didn’t have a plan and had no idea what I was doing. I was going twice a week, doing cardio for half of it, at an all-girls gym. Once I tried weight lifting for the whole workout, I loved it, and wanted to keep going. Suddenly I was creating my own workout split and going 4-5 times a week.

If you don’t know where to start, take it slow! You want to hit every muscle group but it’s okay to group them together. I started with one arm day and one leg day, and I tried a little bit of everything from shoulder presses and bicep curls to lunges and squats. Once you get more comfortable, you can start going 3 days a week, and perhaps add in a full-body day. Over time, you may want to go 4-6 days a week, and separating the muscle groups for better growth and recovery for your body. A popular workout split for most beginners is the push-pull legs split, or some variation. A push workout consists of chest, shoulders and triceps, and a pull workout consists of back and biceps. This is a simple and standard way to break up your muscle groups into different days, but you can do whatever you want! Additionally, if you enjoy cardio, you can incorporate that into its own day, such as cardio and core. Here’s a post about what I do at the gym, though check in for an updated workout split soon!

Sometimes you have to take the leap to figure out what you like. If weightlifting isn’t for you, that’s okay too! Hot yoga, pilates, running and walking are all activities I once enjoyed, some of which I still do. Another important thing is take your time to comfortable and gain confidence and motivation. Check out my post here where I talk about dealing with shyness at the gym.

Just because you didn’t start on January 1st, doesn’t mean you can’t start now. Start that free trial at your local gym, and start working on yourself in 2023!

Stay tuned for workout videos on my YouTube channel and Instagram and contact me to learn more!