Friday, March 31, 2017

Inspiration to be slender and healthy

A street florist in Melbourne - it was Paris-worthy in its beauty!

We went away last week on holiday to Australia.  While my previous Friday blog post was being published, I was waking up in Adelaide after spending a day in the Barossa Valley tasting (sniffing) wines and getting ready to fly to Sydney, having already been in Melbourne and looking forward to the Gold Coast after Sydney.

I know, it was a lot of travel to pack into nine days!  My brother works for one of the airlines and he has me and my husband listed on his staff travel list.  His free staff travel expired at the end of March and he offered it to us to use up, so who were we to turn down such generosity?

We did tons of walking – 22,000 steps on our first day – and what this madcap but fun trip showed me is that I am fully committed to being a healthy person as I age – while still enjoying myself, of course :)

More travel is something that a lot of people do when they retire, so we saw plenty of retirees at airports and walking around tourist spots with maps like we were.  Some were fit and trim, enjoying their vacation, and others… were not.  It was awful to see people who were incapacitated literally by their own unhealthiness.

I’m not talking about things out of our control, because stuff happens when you get older, I know that.  And I also know that it’s just rotten luck if you pick up a bug while away.  But what we weigh or how healthy we are from lifestyle choices we make is absolutely within our control.

Seeing how unpleasant travel was for some people made me recommit to keeping my good eating habits and ignoring the bad ones that sometimes tap me on the shoulder saying ‘remember the good times we used to have?’

Even though I am more than happy with how I approach food and eating these days, that voice still pops up on a regular basis.  It used to get the better of me, but now I just ignore it or put it off for a few hours (until my next meal, then it goes away) and, amazingly, it gets easier each time.

On our Barossa Valley trip we met a retired couple from New York City.  Talking to them was honestly like stepping into a Woody Allen movie – those accents!  I swooned.  I talked to the wife quite a bit and it was so much fun getting to know someone who is a born and bred New Yorker.

They had just visited New Zealand and she asked me how the people who lived in remote houses in the middle of nowhere got their groceries, while I asked her how people shopped in Manhattan for groceries, a fridge…  I told her they probably shopped once or twice a month (‘but what about the milk?’ ‘they’ll freeze it’) and she told me ‘everyone delivers in New York’.

She and her husband were very trim and healthy and they showed me a photo of a childhood friend of his, whom they had visited while in Australia.  They hadn’t seen each other for decades.  What struck me about this photo though, was that he could have been his father, not his classmate.  They were exactly the same age but his friend looked twenty years older.

This photo was one of the things that got me to thinking about aging as well as I can, because while my NYC couple were having fun and travelling all over on their eight-week trip, their friend, the poor guy looked like he needed a walking frame and a respirator.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am totally not judging, these experiences simply highlighted choices I have made in the past.  I know how unhealthy I have felt from making bad food choices, letting my sweet tooth run the show and also when I was younger and used to party more (lots of cocktails and even the odd cigarette a long time ago).  It shows me there is plenty in my control – what I eat and drink, whether I smoke, if I choose to make exercise part of my daily routine.

It can be hard to get enthused about ‘being healthy’ because it sounds so joyless sometimes; it’s all about what you have to cut out.  But what about reframing it to supporting your physical body so it can support you for the decades of life still to come?

It’s a bit like setting up a savings account.  If you don’t have a goal for this account, all you can see is money being taken away from you that you can’t spend right now.  But if you have a compelling goal; if you can imagine yourself turning the key on your very own home, it’s exciting to save that money and watch it grow.

That’s how I approach my health now, with more of a long-term view, instead of griping to myself that I should be able to eat potato chips every day because they taste good.

What about you?  Do you find it easy to think long-term?  Or do you need to trick and cajole yourself along like I do?  There’s no shame in that; whatever works I say :)

Have a great week, and picture yourself as super-awesome in 10, 20, 30 years time!


PS.  See what a reader had to say about my newest book Thirty Slim Days (thank you!):

‘This is the best weight loss book I have ever read (and trust me, there have been a few...).  Fiona seemed to get right to the heart of why we overeat and offered numerous thoughtful solutions and ways to change our way of thinking about food.
I'm only halfway through it (started reading it yesterday) but am already feeling so motivated to tackle my eating habits and weight once and for all using many of the tips in this book.’

You can read a sample of this book by clicking the cover image to ‘Look Inside’.  You can also receive the Kindle version at a 70% discount when you order the print copy.  That way you can start reading straight away while your print copy is delivered.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The art of being feminine

After the release of my latest book… I crashed.  I realised I’d been so focused on everything I needed to do, reading and re-reading the manuscript as I edited, that once it was all over, my body felt free to relax.  I felt like I could sleep for a week; I wasn’t motivated to do anything and I felt burnt out.

It wasn’t that I was particularly stressed before the book was released; burning the midnight oil or anything like that, but it must be a natural response to a time of intense concentration.  I’m sure students feel the same after exams are over, or a project manager after they’ve completed a big project.

In the past I might have eaten my favourite sugar-chocolate-icecream treats to feel more normal, but I don’t do that anymore.  I recognised the strange feeling for what it was and was gentle with myself.

I still had quite a few tasks to complete, so I wrote them all down and ticked off one by one over the following days.  I had normal bedtimes but it might have been better to go to bed earlier than usual.  I did relax one evening with a few episodes of The Hills on dvd, that was fun.

But apart from that, I focused on my femininity.  I recognised that the flattened feeling I was experiencing was from being in my masculine for several weeks as I concentrated on completing my book.  Before that I had a nice blend of feminine (being) and masculine (doing), but at some stage I just had to put my foot on the accelerator otherwise the book still might not be out!

But now, I am welcoming the feminine back in with:

Reading books on my Kindle – I am currently reading The Riviera Express as recommended by the lovely Margaret in Devon, England (do check out her blog, it’s delightful).

(just an aside: my husband thought it was so funny that I would be at my computer reading my manuscript back and forth all day, then come out into the living room to relax with a drink in the late afternoon and… read a book on my Kindle – like a busman’s holiday!)

Focusing on my grooming – blow-drying my hair, using lots of lovely scented moisturiser, putting on perfume, painting my toenails.

Boudoir time – which I have mentioned a million times before but when I get busy it is forgotten.  Here is a post detailing my beloved boudoir time, and another here.

Spending time with my husband – of course, writing my book is a good thing, but I do feel like a neglectful wife when I am glued to the computer.  We went out for lunch or coffee together, a few times in a week.  Plus a movie at the theatre – we saw T2 Trainspotting which I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did.  It was certainly a cinematic experience!

Enjoying my wardrobe – playing around with my outfits, wearing my pretty things and accessorising more with necklaces and makeup colours – which are still very neutral :)

I know it won’t be long before I am my old self again, and one day in the future I might even not upset my equilibrium so much when completing new projects.  I think that’s a good goal to have: achieve what I want to achieve without knocking myself out of kilter along the way.

Something I am very proud of though, is that I did not self-medicate or boost my energy with food.  Yay for that!  I’m so happy that all my mindset work is paying off and I am proving to myself that I really can change.

Do you do this too?  Get yourself out of balance doing too much at once?  Please tell me it’s not just me.  I’d love to hear strategies that have worked for you as well.  Thank you in advance for all the wonderful ideas you have to share!


PS.  If you haven’t seen my latest book ‘Thirty Slim Days’, you can read a sample at Amazon (click ‘Look Inside’).  I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The drama-free way to lose weight

I have had slimming and weight loss on my mind a lot as I completed my latest book, so it is no surprise to me that this week’s post is on that very topic.

If you have ordered my new book Thirty Slim Days, thank you so much and I hope you get loads of useful information, inspiration and ideas from it.  When I wrote this post it was number 8 on the Amazon charts and I am crossing my fingers that it gets to number 1, because that would be so exciting!

If you would like to read a sample, you can see it on Amazon here (click on 'Look Inside').

What I have spent a lot of time thinking about is why diets don’t work and what are we meant to do instead?  Can we incorporate a structured eating plan without setting off alarm bells in our head?

Diets only address the food aspect, and they completely ignore all the stuff that’s going on in our mind.  Beyond the initial excitement phase of starting a new eating plan (if you have one), you rely on willpower to keep you going and after a while it just gets too hard.  You feel worn down and before you know it you are sinking back into the pleasure of your former favourite escapist foods.

I am not against structured eating plans to reset but you have to work on your mindset at the same time, otherwise it’s only ever going to be temporary.  I have decided that temporary isn’t going to do it for me anymore.  I am looking for a lifelong way to be slim, elegant, happy, well-fed and healthy.  I know it is possible.

After a time of plenty, it is a welcome breather to have a period of elegant austerity.  It feels refreshing.  Naturally slim ladies do this as a matter of course, but the rest of us have to learn how.  I don’t mind saying that it does not come naturally for me.

The naturally slim lady if, after the Christmas break, for example (when she probably did not overindulge to the same extent as everyone else, but still had more treats than she normally would), will have a January of simple and healthy foods.  What she likely won’t do is set far-reaching new year’s resolutions or join a punishing bootcamp – she doesn’t need to.

Just like the naturally slim woman, I decided to take the drama out of food, eating and my weight.  There really was no need for it.  And common sense comes into it too.  When you sit back and look at the big picture, or look at it as if you are designing a menu for someone else, it’s not so hard at all.  Deep down we all know what is healthy and what is less so.

If you’re like me, you just hoped for many years – decades – that the crappy junk foods that tickled your palette would magically become good for you.  No, it will never happen.  To get past that, I let myself feel sad that I couldn’t eat my ‘favourite’ foods and look nice and feel good.  I was fighting a losing battle and it was one I would never win.

The only way I was going to win was by changing what I considered to be my favourite foods.  If you are like me, and have mini-obsessions, you will know what it feels like to think that if your current favourite food is taken from you, you don’t know how you will survive.

Thinking back to years ago, there are food items I was obsessed with that now I don’t even think about anymore because I have moved on.  This sort of thinking is similar a two-year-old and their toys.  If you asked them to give up the toy they were holding right now, they wouldn’t want to give it to you.  But if you let them leave it of their own accord, they wouldn’t even notice.

I was like that with food – like a two-year-old having a tantrum.

Once I let go of the drama and introduced myself to a structured eating plan which allowed me to reset how I ate and lower my weight because I wasn’t eating so much junky snack food, all was well. And by structured eating plan I'm not talking about anything fancy - just good real food.  Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, good carbs, limited or no processed junk and sugar.  Writing down what looks like a good plan and then following it.

I think some of us need that sharp jolt when we go from free-for-all to a strict menu plan.  Then, in the ensuing weeks we can happily add back in some of the non-triggering extras and we are happy.

If I try to take things away gradually, I get bratty about it and feel deprived.  If I have a period of resetting things every so often when I feel called to, it’s a shock to the system but I’m ready for it.  Then, when I add items back in it feels like a bonus!

If you are one of those normal people, you are probably wondering why all the fuss.  But if you’re like me… you probably know exactly what I’m talking about!  So… which one are you?  And do you find it easy to reset your eating… or not?

 All the best for your week and I can't wait to hear what you think of Thirty Slim Days!

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