Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Weight Loss Chronicles: 3

                                    Image result for vintage dieting books

Getting In My Own Way

The thing is, being a double Libran (Libra Sun and Moon), I really am a bit of a people pleaser and  this totally gets in my way. One of my kids keeps saying: "stop being someone's Mum, Mum". Meaning: stop worrying about others, and just do your own life. Phew! That's a hard one. Librans, and especially double Librans, really prefer to get on with others. It's like an affliction, really.

And most Librans whom I know, and I am generalising here, we are incredibly helpful. Yep. Instead of doing what we need to do for ourselves, we will be helpful, instead. Because, actually, we are (most of us, anyway) nice. And kind.

                         So, this is my next new routine: just get on with my own life

This is what I've been doing so far, and I've written about it in previous posts, including this oneherea bit about waterand this :
  • have a sense of excitement about losing weight
  • make food look nice
  • wait for meals (this actually means 'no snacking'), but of course, sometimes I do have a wee snack. But I do endeavour not to.
  • eat off smaller plate
  • have a glass of water with meals 
  • eat eggs and drink water or tea when I'm doing le cafe thing. All those lattes love to stick to my body, so I am seldom having them
  • I've, mostly, cut down on fats. They like to hug my body too much. Butter is my bete noir (black beast) of foods
  • as much as possible, I've been eating foods which are low on the glycemic index. This means foods which do not cause me blood sugar problems. And delicious peanut butter has been replaced with Vegemite
  • I avoid, as much as possible, foods which have chemicals added to them
I do some extras in my routines:

I've had a morning routine for most of my life. But I've also had long periods, when I didn't. This is the current one:
  • a glass of warm water as soon as I get up. I intend to get into making it two glasses, or, 500 mls. Plus more before lunch. Why? you may wonder. Well, two of the most naturally slender people whom I know, drink a lot of water each morning. I figure that if it works for them.......
  • I mostly do a small yoga routine. Small. But doable. I do this particular sequence, or variations of it, because it's like giving your organs a morning massage. And it really helps with my blood sugar. Which of course, helps with weight management.
  • specific yoga breathing. I vary this according to the seasons, and this year I started a routine in autumn to boost my resistance to flu and viruses. So far, it's been amazing, and although I did pick up a virus, twice, each time it was minimal and only lasted a few days. (I also am a yoga teacher, so I have some tools up my sleeve)
  • meditation most mornings
And I've added some bits and bobs to my evening routine: 
  • an earlier dinner. I go out for a meal at a friend's one night a week. I teach a class there for 5 people, then we all gather around the table for nice healthy food and lovely conversation. (How lucky am I?)
  • But otherwise, I try for dinner between 4 - 5pm. This is because it gives a long period between dinner and breakfast. Have a 12 hour break overnight, between those two meals, has been found to aid weight loss. Many people do a 16 hour break. But.... I am not being so extreme. I do eat a scone each Monday evening when I'm doing mahi (work) at a healing clinic. 
  • drink two full glasses of water between dinner and bed. I used to do that, but, stupidly, stopped. Jon Gabriel, a phenomenal man who last an incredible amount of weight, and has kept it off for years, used this method to help lose weight. As one of his tricks. It definitely fills me up and stops evening snacking
  • I've been getting lots more sleep, as it's a great stress management tool

Our diet is the means to losing weight. Who knew? This is according to 2017 - 2018 findings. I'm not sure what the next new findings will be, regarding the exercise - diet - weight connection. But, and these are important points:

  • when we diet, we can lose muscle instead of fat
  • when we tone our muscles, and thereby create muscle tone, as we diet, we are more likely to burn and lose fat rather than muscle
  • our muscles create shape, when they are toned. They also give us strength, and endurance
  • muscle burns more calories than does fat
  • there is a big connection between muscles and our body ticking over as we lose weight.
  • Muscle tone seems to have a big effect on our metabolism not slowing down as we reduce. If our metabolism slows too much, it is harder to lose weight.
So, I have been toning or light weight exercises, a couple of times a week. I haven't weighed myself lately, but, my trousers are getting quite baggy, so I know that the process is continuing. I look the same shape, but my clothes are telling a different story. And, for sure some squats, planks, and vigorous waving of arms with light weights, are having a subtle effect.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Having a Better Life

                                  Image result for vintage french woman in sarong                                                
Why write about a better life?

My blogging mentor, Sarah, pointed out that, although I had said on her facebook site, that this blog was about "Having a Better Life", I hadn't actually said in my blogs what a better life actually is. Nor had I put that on my heading, I might add. Sarah pointed this out twice, before her message finally sunk in. So, first I changed the Header on my blog site to point out that you-areunique is about having a better life, then I wrote this post.

I'm really grateful to Sarah, for pointing out what I had missed. It has completely changed my outlook on my blog, in such a positive way.

So I am really excited to be writing this, because having a better life was always what my blog was supposed to be about. But, somehow, I seem to have gotten a bit lost. How could I possibly have done This Big Mistake? Well typical me, I think about all angles of something, get writing about all of these subjects, then forget to actually state the obvious! So, here goes:

What is a better life?

I think that this is something that is so personal to oneself. And, I think that it has to do with:
  • what is a better life for you/me/whoever?
  • why aren't you/me/whoever doing it already?
  • what can we do, right now, towards our dream life?
So, lets ponder this:
  • again: what would be a better life for you, or me? (being a bit more specific, now)
  • better than what? 
For me, that would be: better than it is now. Why? Because I'm not really doing all of the things which I would love to do, in order to give myself the life that I would love. Hardly any of them, actually.

But I do know exactly what my Dream Better Life List would include:
  • travel each winter to a warm country during the coldest, wettest months in New Zealand (this has been a lifelong dream). I could go, say, to Bali, or a Polynesian island, and teach some specialist yoga courses there to pay my way.
  • take a large workshop at least four times a year on deep esoteric aspects of yoga. I taught such seminars for year, then stopped. I have resumed teaching these workshops, but would like to do more 
  • be more involved in the healing community which I'm part of
This is just a starter. For me, there is definitely more. And, all of it is achievable! So why on earth aren't I doing what I know that I need to do, to Have A better Life?

What is stopping me? Or you?
  • sometimes, I do think that it's all about having time to do things
  • not only having time, but also sometimes, for some things - it's just not the right time
  • and, sometimes we need to change a lot in our living environment just to be able to achieve our dream life
  • sometimes we simply need to make changes in other aspects of our life
Honestly, so many options to consider, before The Dream Life happens, especially on a big scale.

I am excitedly pondering the massive possibilities. 

And, I am definitely interested in anything that anyone else has to say about all of this. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Are you a planner, more spontaneous, or.....?

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Are you a planner? Or, do you "go with the flow?" Be more spontaneous. Or are you somewhere in between?

My guilty habit

I overplan. Yes, I do. With my youngest I would be staring her in confusion when she was a teenager, in the mornings just before school, when she was teenagering (you know what I mean....), instead of just fitting in with the plan. That list, in my head. That sequential plan of me getting a ridiculous amount of things done, before we both went on our way, for the day. The plan that she knew nothing about.

Nor did my eldest, a generation older, know that they were supposed to fit in with my list of the time, when they were young. Probably because I never told them. I just quickly did whatever, trying to get them to school, and me to work.

Why are we this way?

Why do I do these things? And why don't you, the people who don't? Is it insidious programming from early childhood, which makes us the way that we are? It actually could be, in my case. But I am quite sure that all of my many sisters and brother, are not that way. Nor all of my children.

I am often spontaneous. Yes, I am, friends and family. But, in a more planned way. So if someone contacts me on the day, and says "coffee at Fiesta cafe?", (guess what I'm doing today.... spontaneous coffee coming up), I then drop everything and go for coffee, a chat and a laugh. Otherwise, I get up with a plan in my head and methodically set about doing everything. Do I do it all? Not always. But I mentally plan to. That is, I have it in mind to do everything that I have allocated to do, for that day. But I don't always get it all done. Of course, I don't.

But being a bit of a planner, makes me the sort of person who can be counted on to do this and that. For example, I almost always turn up at The Maori healing clinic that I work at, and go to meditation on another night. Unless I am sick, or am working.

In my early years I was the eldest of 5, and I was Mum's helper. Which is how it always is in a big family. (bonus = you learn pretty quickly how not to be selfish) And so when I became a young mum, myself, it was easy to quickly step into a routine. We first lived in a small flat in an old villa on a beautiful beach, where I wanted to be asap, each morning, with baby. But I learnt pretty quickly that wee one needed a routine in her early months, and I guess that I just automatically fell into a system, no doubt from hidden memories of being the eldest when I was younger.

But, I wanted my kids to have a freer life, and so, part of our routine each day, was, as much as I could manage it, was them playing with friends.

How can we change?

I guess, really, that we have to want to change, with anything, before we can even think about it. I have often thought of all the lazy days on the beach that I missed out on, because of that darned list that I had for the day. The movies, the plays, the being carefree. All of the things that I didn't do, but, in retrospect, I wish that I had (sigh)

I want that life. That more spontaneous, more full of laughter, life.

I think that I should make it a priority.

I have a new "rule". Or is it a plan? For spontaneous people whom I know, I shall quickly contact them and see if they are free to do this and that, on the day. As suggested by a spontaneous person.

What would be your choices? Plan? Be spontaneous? Or a bit of each? What suits you best?

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Le Evening Routine

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It's time. Time to sort out le evening routine, other than facebook, tv, and generally wasting time, when I actually could be doing something beneficial and nice, for myself.

Is this you? Or, are you organised?

I do have a (non-) routine. Of course I do:
  • I clean my face
  • do some dishes (usually)
  • get out my clothes for tomorrow (but I have been very tardy with this)
  • I have stopped drinking my evening 500 mls of water, due to not being organised, when I moved home. I loved that little evening water drinking routine! Why have I been so slack?!
  • put on hand lotion before hopping into bed 
Ggrr. How annoying that I stopped doing beneficial things. I am wondering if the cold has something to do with it. Padding down the hall into a cold room to fluff around? I think not. But the truth is that I would like to stop thinking and behaving like this.

I read of a process where you write things down (that again!). This is my write-it-down, and then sort it out, plan:
  • what you really do each evening 
  • what you have to do each evening
  • what you want to do each evening
  • what your ideal evening routine would actually look like
We always have habits

The thing is, in one way or another, generally we are creatures of habit. I can see that, just looking at my non-routine. If we watch ourselves, we do the same things in the same way, and for some it's at the same times. A habit is something that we repeatedly do, almost without thinking. So, I think that the difficulty with changing our habits for any reason, and in this case, it's to make new routines, we are going against automatic, unthinking, patterns of behaviour. 

Behaviour, because habits in this case are what we are doing. It's a tall order to change things which we do. But, it can be done. If we want to. 

So, perhaps the first step really, should be why we want to change things around. Before the above list, really. Why do I want to change my evening (non-) routine? Or, the slack evening habits that I now have?

What do I want to do each evening?
And why?
  • resume my water drinking. Because it's so cold, I might just Suck It Up and do warm water. Cold water when it's cold? Not if I can help it. I found that I just look better, and feel better when I wake up, the following morning, after my 500 mls of water between dinner and bed. A couple of winters ago, I was having hot water, lemon, and honey, in a giant soup mug each evening and that was nice. So, there are options other than the cold water thing.
  • I am moving my main shower to before bed, after I used up most of the hot water recently, and left a mostly cold shower for the next person. I really didn't feel good about myself being so thoughtless.
  • I want to go back to have a quick (very quick) face massage before bed. Mostly because I want to practice the facial pressure points which I have learnt and can use in healing. But also because, well, it's a nice thing to do.
  • I'd like to do a few classical floor poses before bed. Release the days tensions, keep myself supple, and yes, the feel-good factor.
  • I want to resume evening meditation. Why did I ever stop? I don't feel the need to "have to" do it. But I'd like to get back into it again. The ole stress release thing again. I prefer the "Short and Sweet" and "Just Do It" style, rather than making a production of it.
Is this too much? Is it doable? We shall see. I might tweek it, but I'll give it a go. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Weight Loss Chronicles 2

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Not Great News

I am not a happy punter. Back came 500 grams of the six kilos that I had mysteriously lost. And my weight loss stalled. How had this happened?

How, I ask you, how?
  • I moved and eating was a tad chaotic, to say the least.
  • Then someone moved in with me. Someone who loves a full, slightly messy, and very decorative home: think masses of furniture, household plants, knick knacks...etc, whereas I like a lot of space, and order, in the home. For some reason, this made me a bit disorientated.
  • We were sharing food. Food which I do not, as a habit, nor as a treat, usually eat. 
  • All of this meant that I was totally out of my routines.
My Routines

I am a great believer in routine, as a daily way of life:
  • It seems to make our body rhythms work more harmoniously. 
  • And our massive hormonal system gets into the daily swing of things, working with our body, not against it.
  • My new lack of routine, was, I am convinced, a major factor in those 500 grams deciding to return to my body.
It has been many years since I last flatted with anyone. I did have an adult child return for a few years, to go to University, but that of course, is totally different. We fitted in with each other, and it was so special for me.

Why Have A Routine:

I know that I sound really boring, rabbiting on about habits, routines, blah, blah. However, I now only actually have a few routines. I'm really flexible with my time and life when something else comes up. And I think that I can be flexible, because I have worked out a couple of routines and generally stick to them. However, none of my routines are actually set in stone.

And I deliberately do them for a reason. My main one is my morning routine, and these are my reasons for doing it: 
  • I like to be ready if someone in my family, or a friend, contacts me for an unscheduled catch-up
  • I also like not to be disturbed by any mess awaiting me in the house when I get up each morning, so it's my habit to have a quick whip around before bed, putting stuff away
  • I like to have clean clothes, so I keep on top of washing
  • My routine stops me mucking around wasting my morning, which, if I am sloppy, mysteriously morphs into wasting my whole day
  • My routine makes me feel good (very important)
So, I've re-looked at my routines: food, habits, etc, to fit into my new living situation.

The New Food habit

To reboot the weight loss, I have gone back to mostly eating the foods which agree with me, on small plates, which naturally means in small amounts. I was reading about a recipe of 100 years ago which was for four people. But the person who was using it, said that nowadays she would expect it to feed 2-3. Point taken. Our portions are just too big.

A naturally slender person whom I know quite well, once said to me: 'you can eat anything, Mum, just not too much at a time'. Point also taken here. This is The New Habit. Enforced as of a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018


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Practical Purpose

I don't know about everyone else, but talk to me about purpose & I get all high falluting. I think in grand terms on The Meaning of Life .... & so on.

But actually that's not how I'm thinking about purpose today. I'm thinking more along the lines of
Getting Things Done.

Being Impractical Didn't Work For Me.....

I used to buy into the "visualise and it will happen" scenario. Meaning that if we visualise something, it will come to us, or happen. As if! It seldom ever happened for me. Why? I wonder. And I used to do affirmations with the visualisations, too.

"The Secret", and other such books decreed that visualising what we wanted, worked. Ha! I am proof that this isn't always the best method.

But Here Is How To Be Practical With Purpose

I do know that writing things down does produce results. And, (this is just me) I think that it is because there is purpose involved. According to the Oxford Dictionary, purpose is the reason for doing something. So I am thinking that, along with writing something down, we need to know why we want to do, or be, or have, something. It would help to know why. Know the reason why, the purpose.

And then, I feel that it would help to hold onto that reason why, and do things with focus to achieve that reason, that purpose. When we focus on what matters most, according to The Powers That Be (meaning: I forgot where I read the studies on this!), we use less energy than just daydreaming. Yes!

                           Doing is less tiring than just daydreaming about things.

Who would have thought?

So, it looks as though just writing things down, is not going to be enough for me. Actually, I do write what I want to achieve, on a list, then promptly forget about it ...... that has been my pattern, so far. But I want to be more effective, so I feel as though I need to work out reasons why, alongside each Thing. And read it often, as part of The Doing Process. To keep my attention on what I'm supposed to be doing, even though the Write It Down, Then Promptly Forget It, method, has worked, it isn't the best way to have a momentum towards doing and completing something. I do know this.

The Satisfaction Of Achieving

And when I just wrote things down, then forgot, of course the surprise at achieving was quite fun. However, the resulting feelings of satisfaction from actually doing something, with awareness on what I'm doing, then completing it, with purpose, I do love that. It gives such a good feeling.

I am also thinking that I shall have to purposely write things down, plus the reasons why, and read it, hopefully, every day, for this process to become a habit. For it to become ingrained, so that I quite naturally Just Do It.

What do you do? Think about it, then just go ahead? Plan? Put up post-its to remind you? There are so many ways .......

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Chic and Colour

                        Image result for Coco Chanel wearing black and white

Chic colour suggestions

I was reading a French chic thing, where the writer said that to use only two colours at a time, in one's dressing. Others say, up to three colours. Both hints definitely suit my minimalist and economical tendencies. The truth is that I find it just too much visually, to wear lots of different colours, and that also applies to wearing too much jewellry, for me.

I do understand that colour can be an extension & expression of our personality. Some people are very good at this. I do not think that I am. The French chic colour suggestions which I've found, are:

  • a neutral colour with a small pop of colour
  • 2 neutrals with a splash of a colour such as with accessories
  • use up to 3 hues of 1 colour, if you want to only wear variations of one colour at a time

I do like black

One of my colours would always be black. Browns, for some reason, depress me, so black as my basic neutral, it must be. Coco Chanel who seems to have epitomised the expression "chic" all through her career, had black and cream as basic colours. I have been toying with the idea of adding some cream to my wardrobe, as it does suit me. 

Angelina Jolie does the chic colour well

I also really like Anjelina Jolie's basic wardrobe colours of black, navy, white and grey. I think that if a strong accent colour, like red, my favourite actually is purple, is used too - ohh-la-a-la! And I have seen that she does sometimes do that. I also love the simplicity of the clothes that Angelina wears. Very chic.....

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But it wouldn't suit all

I cannot imagine someone with lighter coloured hair suiting Angelina's clothes palette. But I can imagine such a woman looking wonderful in browns, and camels, and all colours in between. That to me, is just so elegant.

                                              Image result for french chic wearing browns

Colours also represent eras

The other thing, is that it seems to me that the way colour is used, does change. In the 1970s, there were hippie looks which ranged from very earthy (drab, really) through to bright with a multitude of colours, and in the 1980s, there were those awful overly bright colours that were all the rage. In other eras, it has been black, black, black.

So, I am wondering about this: with colour does it also represent The Times? Or, are some colours timeless?

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Write It Down!!

                               Image result for vintage  lady writing                                 

I was talking recently with a friend, and she was telling about her new food regime. Plus more. And how she had written a list for her mornings and put it on her bedroom wall. What she was eating, drinking, the order of each, and everything that she wished to do each morning before work.

I so relate to this.  My friend explained that as she was a visual person, she needed to see something in order to remember to do it. So am I. So I too now have a morning list. Most of which I was doing anyway. But, it also serves as a visual reminder prior to going to bed. I sometimes lie in bed in the morning (not often), thinking and planning, then 'come to' and realise I've left it too late to do my yoga practice.

I was using my diary for ages to have my list that I ticked off, but, in packing to move, moving, and unpacking, my diary somehow got lost. And so did my routines..... So having it written up on the wall, will allow me to re-set my morning rituals. It will be a glaring reminder.

I only have to do things for myself now, but I do remember well how being ordered and having planned ahead, was so much easier for all, when one has children.

There are so many variables regarding what each of us does, each morning. There is also a routine of sorts, because we are such creatures of habit. Now, it's a Big Thing, having a routine each morning. Of course we all have some sort of routine!! The trick, for me, is to have a routine that makes my day so much better. I do know that's it's easier for me because I no longer live with children. I do have a flatmate now, so I do have to accommodate another person's habits and routines.

I never knew how ridiculously full my life was years ago, and why I was always so tired and stressed, until I wrote down on a timetable sheet, everything, including meals, for each day, for a whole week, of what I was already doing. The timetable sheet was overfull - with no time for rest nor recreation. And I was also working some evenings and many weekends, as well as each day. It was a real wake-up call doing that exercise. I had to learn how to leave time, for me, and for my youngest who had just started High school. If my daily lists including work had been up on a wall, so that I couldn't miss seeing them, I would have been able to see how unrealistic my life was.

             Put your list where it's visible, until it becomes your routine, your habits.

This is my current morning routine. Most of it I was already doing:

  • coffee on the go whilst I put away any stuff left out in the lounge, and open the doors and windows
  • a few yoga warmups; sun salutes; a couple of other poses. The yoga routine seldom varies. That way, I don't have to think about what to do, and being a yoga teacher, I do know exactly what to do for myself. But it's not a long nor trendy practice. It's a do-able one.
  • some yoga breathing and meditation
  • a walk, if there is time (there often isn't!)
  • breakfast that I want to get into the habit of preparing the night before (oats and fruit)
  • shower
  • 4 minute make-up (thank you Elizabeth Hurley)
  • put on washing

Why do so much in the morning? Because I am a morning person. And I love routine, and I think that's partly my personality, but also because I am so aware that our body loves rhythm. Our body clock and hormones work with well with routines. So I think of this as me helping myself. My youngest said that when she went flatting, she knew what to do, just from having watched me, as she was growing up. And that's how I learnt too, from my Nanna. I knew to get up and get dressed before my children, and to be on hand for them as we had breakfast and got ready for school, and for work for me.

Our own early morning routine does depend a lot on whether we are a morning person, a day person, or a night owl. So, when do you have your most energy?

  • When you get up early? 
  • During the day? 
  • Or at night? 

My morning list would be totally unsuitable for a day, or evening, person. A night person (I am assuming here!) would get things ready the night before, so that mornings are easier. A day person would do their exercising during the day.

So, what works best for you? What would make your mornings a better start to your day? And how would you do things for that? Sometimes it really is "trial and error" to work things out.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Travelling Chic

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I wrote this in 2016, and forgot to post it. So, here goes:

I have just had 3 days away with 3 friends. We went to some very rustic & highly therapeutic natural hot springs. These sort of hot springs are highly mineralised. They are in quite a few places in New Zealand, but to find some that are also therapeutic in cost, which these ones are, is just such a treat. Sadly many of our more well known ones are out of the range of many of us kiwis. "User-pays" culture gone mad.

We went to a really inexpensive lodge & just chilled out, & soaked. So special. I am constantly amazed at how lovely our country is, & how there is still so much that absolutely anyone can do & see, cheaply. It really is beautiful, hauntingly so, in many places. And I always ask about the history of any place that I go to ... there is always someone with fascinating stories.

It was not one of my more chic weekends. I had a sore chest (it's winter here), & was quite debilitated with it, however one long soak in the appropriate pool .... & a miracle happened: my chest started to heal.

And I took the wrong food. We were staying somewhere with a big communal kitchen, & just prepared our own food. My group shared food. Why did I take organic muesli & almond milk for our breakfast? Everyone, myself included, just wanted toast. And no-one wanted the tins of tuna that I took, either. Mistake number one. I'm clearly not sure how to do this travelling food thing.

We stopped at a cafe going to the springs, & back to Auckland. It was a long trip. Why do we stop & eat a full meal size snack when travelling? It's not as though we are expending much energy, sitting in a car. Out of a city the food is either really bad or fantastic. No midway here in this country! Mistake number two. Water & a bit of fruit or piece of cheese to nibble on would have filled me up. And, it would have been more chic.....

I pared down my skin care, but not enough: mistake number 3. Next trip anywhere it's wipes for cleaning, bio-oil to get off any make-up & for night cream, plus day cream with spf. No time to luxuriate with body lotion when you're sharing a bathroom. I keep soap freebies from hotels & take one with me, deodorant, & small containers of shampoo, conditioner, & hand cream that I have decanted.

And now, 2018 update:

My most recent visit to the above hot pools in Northland, last year, was a disaster. I felt sorry for the person whom I traveled with. I was a terrible travelling friend as I had big allergic reactions on the way up and was very sick. It took days for me to recover. I now have anti-histamine pills permanently in my handbag for any sensitivities. There is absolutely no chicness in travelling and getting sick!!

It's late autumn and I have again been travelling, staying with family, for four days. I went with:
  • two pairs of jeans
  • a few tops
  • a jumper (which I didn't need.....)
  • a jacket-cardigan thing 
  • walking shoes
  • pjs
  • 2 bras 
  • 5 pairs of knickers
  • 2 pairs of socks
So you can see that I travel really lightly. I feel that this is less invasive for my family, as I take up less room with my bits and pieces. And being rather short, I definitely don't take up much room!

And I must confess that I am not one of those bloggers who have lovely outfits on their blog: I simply do not have a big enough wardrobe for that. (And, others do it better than me)

I take a small everyday handbag, and everything else fits into my old medium sized travel bag. It's not a flash bag, it's a tidy one, and has travelled far and wide with me.

I also took minimal make-up:
  • Antipodes mineral powder and Thin Lizzy brush
  • eyebrow powder (it's actually an old eyeshadow) and brush
  • mascara
  • eyeliner
  • lipstick
  • all of this except my lippy, goes into a small make-up bag
And minimal other stuff:
  • facewipes for removing make-up
  • tinted sunblock 
  • shampoo and conditioner decanted into small containers
  • small soap, conveniently taken as a freebie from some hotel stay
  • toothbrush
  • small tube of toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • hand cream
  • all except the hand cream goes into a toilette bag
So, to recap, these are my tips for chic travelling:
  • sort out The Food Thing 
  • take and drink lots of water
  • decant your skin and hair care into small (labelled) containers
  • take minimal hair, skin, and make-up products
  • take a mindful wardrobe with you

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

the chic files: being chic and stylish on a budget

                                          Image result for french vintage fashion

I had a great teacher

I learnt a long time ago, how to look nice on a budget. I learnt this from Nanna, who did not have many clothes, but she always looked amazing. And stylish. A total inspiration. As I keep saying, she taught me that we didn't need a lot of anything to be happy. And, whilst I was living with her in my teens, it was indeed, an affluent life.

I learnt to use what I had, to look nice, and to get dressed to look good, each morning. Not fancy, not overdressed, just nice. I still do these, they are two of my habits. I do think that if we want to be stylish and chic, that looking our best does need to be a habit.

Work out what you are prepared to do, to look nice

Being chic and stylish is not just about what we wear. It's also about how we look after our body.

This is my list, based on being easy to maintain, affordable, and achievable:
  • I have a simple hairdo. (As I'm useless at doing The Hair Thing)
  • I dye my hair, myself. (I'm not prepared to be greyish, yet)
  • I trim my fringe
  • I moisturise morning and night, and clean my face thoroughly at night
  • None of my skin care is expensive
  • I use a simple oil or body lotion after my showers. (With a mini massage)
  • I keep my nails a medium length and don't use polish. (Because I never maintain the polish)
  • I wear a small amount of make-up
  • I wear colours that flatter me, in my clothing
  • I wear the shapes that suit me best (which is a bit of a trick, as I am short and need to lose weight)
If I added too much more to this list, then I know, through experience, that I won't do it.

Be savvy with what you already have

On my previous post, I talked about less being be more. And using what we already have, to prepare meals from. So, it was about food. But, this also extends to our way of dressing, too:
  • Each season, I have a good look at the clothes that I already have, and see what I can do to have a nice, small but enough, appropriate, wardrobe for that season.
  • Then I work out what we need to bring my wardrobe 'up to scratch'. I need only about three singlets to go under some sheer, coloured shirts, for this season.
I am not a fashionista. I'm not creative enough for that, with clothing. But, I don't wear outdated nor inappropriate clothes. I'm currently wearing some clothes that were my grand-daughter's (she's 27).

Looking stylish with less $

I know that when I have just enough clothes, the best quality that I can afford, and, I have had times in my life, when op-shopping is the only type of shop that I can afford, I am definitely telling myself that I matter, I am 'worth it'.

I have found that, when times have been hard for me (financially), I was able to cope with a mostly summer wardrobe, all year round. I did this by layering clothes in winter.

And making sure that whatever I wore, was flattering. Even though this often means having less, with or without having plenty of money for clothes, it does mean that we look better.

Dress for the life that you have

So, what do you need for the life that you actually have? I write, at home. I also do give clairvoyant readings, do healing, and teach private yoga classes. On a day when I'm writing, giving a reading, or getting out and about, I wear jeans. My yoga clients feel more comfortable around me when I wear tights, and it's a lot easier to do a healing in tights. I wear nice tops with the jeans or tights. I don't do the 'old clothes for the house' thing, but that's just me.

So, what do you need for the life that you have?

And don't forget to look after what you already have
  • mend where needed
  • wash and keep your clothes clean
  • put clothes away nicely
  • clean one's shoes. 
Not rocket science, but it works.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Chic and Slim: learning to wait

Still with Chic and Slim, by Anne Barone:

                                      Related image

Other ways of being slim

... and of course, chic.

Anne talks about impatience, and instant gratification, as being barriers to slimness. I remember the first time that I heard the term 'instant gratification', some years ago. I was talking to a friend, who was a counsellor, and she mentioned it. I looked at her. I knew that she was perpetually, effortlessly, slim.

She also travelled overseas each year, even though she did not have a high income. How could this be? She actually said that how she could afford to do things, was by not wasting money by giving into wants and whims.

This in itself, is chic, I feel. I also believe that it is one of the major ways that she had stayed the same size, always. When we don't eat and drink what we want when we want it, immediately, we don't 'waste' food, and we do eat less, in my experience.

Becoming more emotionally smart

Interestingly, learning how to wait for things, for gratification, if you will, is one of the major ways to develop emotional intelligence: E.Q. Often a person believes that they will be happier if they get what they want, right now. But, in my personal observation, it just makes us want more, by never being satisfied.

And, although I do not believe that instant gratification is the main reason for being overweight, learning how to wait for meals trains us not to fulfil our food wants immediately, but to wait for them. And, surprisingly, we do end up eating less, overall, doing this. Thereby our weight can move, go down. Simply by waiting for the the designated time, to eat. It is a much more gracious way to live.

                                 "a gracious way of life, is definitely more chic"

Having a small dessert after a meal, or a bit of cake, or a small amount of chocolate, is much more chic than having them as the 'want' dictates. It is a very clever way to have a bit of 'naughty' food without the guilt. When we have such food, as and when we want it, our blood sugar doesn't handle it so well, but eaten at the end of a meal, it doesn't send us into a blood sugar crash.

And doing this, normalises food that an overweight person both categorises as being 'bad', and of course, people being people, when we categorise food as 'bad', then that same type of food becomes what we crave. Whereas, if we learnt to have small amounts and enjoy them, with our meals, that whole puritan good/bad aspect is nicely sidestepped.

Having enough rather than more, is best

We then learn some others of Anne's Chic and Slim methods, by doing this: having enough, rather than having more, of anything, is best. And that quality is always better. So, when we do have a bit of chocolate after a meal, make it good quality chocolate, have just enough to satisfy yourself, without feeling 'stuffed' as we do when we have too much.

How else can we apply "have less rather than more"?  An excellent way, which actually should be glaringly obvious, is to look into your fridge and pantry, and use up what you have. I like to do this to make vegetable soup: I use up the tail ends of lonely vegetables and have something delicious. I could go out and buy more food to eat, but when you use what you have, and make it nice, it really is a treat.

And I had to rethink my cafe social life, a couple of years ago, to fit in with the food philosophy of less being more. All of those high calorie coffees were not doing my health nor wallet, any favours. Let alone the food! It is all so big, or designer-type food. I now just have a sandwich if they are not too giant, or just eggs and toast. With Earl Grey Tea. A Big calorific saving! More stylish, more chic.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Chic Files: Style as expression

                                             Image result for witty chanel style

Continuing with "Chic and Slim" by Anne Barone, looking at this book, chapter by chapter, as an inspiration for a more chic life. And a more slim one, too.

But at the moment, I am fixated on style.

What is style as expression? Is it :
  • What we say?
  • What we do?
  • How we look?
  • How we dress?
  • The decor of our home?
  • What and how we eat?
Myself, I think that it is all of this, and more: how we live our life, and how we express our style in all of these above ways.

My style

My style is definitely minimalism. Too much 'stuff' around me, makes it hard for me to focus, as my eyes get pulled to this and that. But I have a flatmate for whom her home is an artistic expression of herself; no space left free. Both of us are so different, yet, each of us has a distinct style of our own, coming quite naturally from our own separate personality.

Because I am a minimalist, I also dress that way: simply. I have few clothes; only a few pairs of shoes; my coats last for years. I like my food to be simple and uncluttered too. My make-up is minimal. I sometimes have too much skin care, but in all honesty, most of it has currently been gifts. I also am rather quiet, which is a bit confusing for more extroverted people. I am not perfect, but I am quite self-sufficient, and my style of living my life, and expressing my personality, definitely reflects that.

For me, a good mantra is: less is more.

Your style, of course, will also be quite unique to you. Sometimes, it is quite good to look around oneself to see how you are expressing your style. Unless we live and work alone, it is very difficult to have everything our own way with our style. Of course compromise is involved too. But, what can you do to put your style into your life?

Recently I was talking to someone who is also quite a minimalist. She likes antiques and is a bit quirky. Definitely that is reflected in her style of dressing, her way of speaking, and how she would like to decorate her home.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to think of a few key words to describe your own style? I know that  two words that would define my style are minimalist and feminine.

My style inspiration

The person who inadvertently  taught me about style, was my beloved Nanna, when I lived with her for five magical years. She taught me about being happy whilst having less, when I could have had more. And to make what I did have, nice. This really fulfils me on many levels.

Nanna also taught me, by example, to get dressed nicely, each morning. Not expensively, nor overdressed, just nice. When I don't do this, I feel really sloppy, and I don't get things done. Someone asked me recently why I didn't buy myself some warm track pants to wear around the house. The answer is that I just like to get dressed in (nice) clean clothes each morning, and not have to get changed each time that I go out. (plus - trackies.... ugh)

I think that this is also part of my minimalism. I also do not like to waste time by getting changed into different clothes during the day. And I like to tidy myself and look nice, each morning. I've done this all of my life, and it all goes back to my teenage years with Nanna.

I do also think that how we spend our time, our body language, what we say, are also part of our own unique style. Style is not just about the clothes that we wear.

Does style matter?

I think so. Everyone is unique, everyone has a special gift to the world, and their style, I believe, is part of this. Sometimes it is worthwhile to put some thought and active energy into finding our personal style. On all levels.

                                    Image result for witty quotes about style

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Chic Files: food and style

                                                  Image result for chic and slim

The inspiration for being Chic and Slim

I have joined in on a facebook group which is reviewing a book about being Chic and Slim, by Anne Barone. Anne lost 55 lbs in one year, living in France as a young woman. She has maintained that weight loss using what she learned about food, eating, and style, during her stay in France 45 years ago.

The French secret to slimness

But, surprisingly, she says that the reason that the French are slim, has to do with style, and that personal style extends to all areas of French women's lives.

Being a puritan can block our style

What blocks us from living life stylishly? Anne says that, in America, it's the puritan background of the early settlers. Whereby one doesn't feel that it's okay to enjoy oneself, to have pleasure, in one's life. I have a tendency to be like that. Is it my nature? Being the eldest in a not affluent home, when I was younger? My early upbringing where there was not much money? Is it society's conditioning? Actually I probably, myself, won't be delving too much into this, but, I do admit, and yes, accept, that I have this bit of puritanism in me. (sigh)

This extends to eating. Anne is American, and in her books about Chic, she relates relating everything either to her American upbringing and life, or, mostly, to the time that she spent in France. She says that America, is full of "shoulds and shouldn'ts" to do with eating, and that there is no pleasure in eating like this. I personally don't know about this, because I've never been there. Nor to France, either.

I have been that puritan woman

But, I can so--o-o relate to this puritanical dogma. Rather than eating food that I enjoy, most of my life, I've eaten "should" food. Some of that misguided should-ness was from living in an ashram many years ago, where we ate dhal everyday, and it was not the yummy dhal that we get in Indian restaurants. And tons of rice. Poor food, for feeding the masses in a poor ashram. Somehow we managed to accept that this was the food that we 'should' be living on, afterwards, as well. To keep our insides clean, and moving through our system quickly. Both true with eating fairly plain dhal, but - where was the pleasure? There was also this weird misguided notion that we were pressured into believing that if our insides were clean, especially one's bowels, then we would not get diseases like cancer. But, we now know that cancer is genetic, and that 'clean' eating is a great way to help our overall health and vitality.

Having said all that, I do love dhal. I still could eat it everyday.

Prior to that I had a husband who had some Chinese ancestry. He wanted rice. Everyday. So, after decades of rice, I announced: I hate rice. I don't actually, but I seldom eat it, if given the choice. I've done my rice duty.

My serial failure eating non-secret

I also went to Weight Watchers. Five times. (yes, I know....) I was a serial failure, especially when we were hassled into buying their fake food. So not chic! Full of preservatives, artificial colours, all to make them yummy. Oh, & to eat them instead of real food, to lose weight. Not forgetting the blood sugar problems that those pseudo foods gave me. The only WW leader whom I could relate to, took me aside and told me when I walked into her class, 'don't eat the WW food, eat real foods and just count the points'. And, she and her family ate real meals. Not eating on the run, nor eating all over the place. She and her family were eating chicly, stylishly, and she looked amazing.

Hints for stylish eating

So, perhaps the first lesson in style and chicness, could be to look at our eating habits. Do we enjoy our food? Is it real food? Do we eat it because we 'should', or because it is nourishing and enjoyable. Do we eat on the run? Or, do we sit down and eat?

For someone who is not a foodie, like myself, this whole scenario of food and pleasure is a bit confusing. I was having lunch with a friend, and she confessed that she really didn't like food, it was something that one had to do. I totally could relate! So much food does not gain my interest. Nevertheless, I do aim to make food nice, and sit down to eat. I use nice crockery. I actually have some treasured pieces of the yesteryear type, old-fashioned, and small. As no doubt the crockery was in France, 45 years ago. And I eat slowly, as well as really make an effort to taste what I am eating.

I do think that it's worthwhile to look into the whole arena of making food nice; eating real food; presenting it appealingly. Even for a non-foodie like myself, I find that it totally makes a difference.

The Weight Loss Chronicles: 3

                                     Getting In My Own Way The thing is, being a double Libran (Libra Sun  and  Moon), I really am a bit ...