Friday, April 14, 2017

Chic inspiration from NYC

My friend, Babette

One of the unexpected bonuses of going on a wine tour to the Barossa Valley with my husband on our recent trip to Australia was meeting a lovely couple from New York City.  Babette, a retired schoolteacher, and her husband were on an eight-week trip which encompassed Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

I got to chat with Babette at various points throughout the day.  She was vivacious and bubbly, and I couldn’t get enough of her genuine New York accent (born and bred!).  Thankfully, Babette gave me her card so we could keep in touch.  I was so impressed when she handed me a professionally printed card with her contact details.  I have got to get one of those made!  It is so much more elegant than scribbling down my email address on a scrap of paper.

So, via email I got to follow along on the rest of their trip and heard how Babette went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and paddle boarding, sailing and snorkelling in Fiji.  I am so lazy on holiday, and realise now I will really need to up my game hearing about all the great activities she participated in.

From my glowing description of Babette on my previous blog post here, I heard from readers who wanted her to share her secrets on being slim and vivacious.  Superstar celebrity Babette!  I emailed and asked if she might expand a bit on how she approaches food, eating and life in general; basically,

Babette's golden rules for being fabulous throughout life

Here is what she shared:

  • She tries to walk 2-3 miles a day
  • She exercises as much as possible (more for her head than body!)
  • She drinks lots of water (and good red wine!!)
  • She laughs a lot
  • She surrounds herself with positive people (get rid of negative forces!)
  • She keeps both her mind and body busy and enriches them constantly (since retirement she has taken foreign language courses and edit college courses.  It keeps her mind sharp!)
  • Her #1 eating rule is NO fried food
  • She also avoids white flour
  • She eats very few sweets (though dark chocolate is healthy and she finds a little piece of good chocolate is very satisfying)


Many of these things I do myself, such as walking most days and keeping active.  I also drink a lot of water (not so much of the red wine for me!) and like to find opportunities to laugh – being silly with my husband, watching funny movies and reading books such as Sophie Kinsella’s madcap titles (she is one of the only authors that I actually laugh out loud when reading her books).  I also find my cats excellent for humour therapy.

I can’t say I avoid fried foods, but I don’t eat them often.  I don’t eat white flour either and I ‘mostly’ don’t eat sweet foods.  If I eat one, I’ll eat a hundred, so I try not to take that first bite of sugary foods.  I don’t count natural foodstuffs such as fruit in that.

From how I viewed Babette on our day trip and what she has shared in emails – all the way from NYC, that still gives me a thrill :) – she has built and maintained healthy lifestyle habits that have helped her enjoy an enviable retirement experience.  Meeting and getting to know Babette a little bit encourages me further to make every year better than the last when it comes to health and fitness, and to not give up and sink into a sedentary, nibbling lifestyle that I know could come so easily for me.

I am also keen to be more of an action girl on holiday.  We haven’t been on many holidays, since my husband and I have owned a retail store for the past twelve years that required at least one of us to be there at all times (except for ten days each Christmas when we would close up).  Now that we have sold that business (as at the end of last year), we are looking forward to being able to travel more.

I’ve never been that sporty and have actually been very lazy when it comes to activities and exercise, but now that I know how good your body feels when you shake it around regularly, I am keen to be that sporty and fabulous girl on vacation.

Babette, thank you so much for sharing your lifestyle secrets, and for being a good sport about answering my questions.  I hope you enjoy your time as a celebrity :)

Chic readers, if you had to say what your top three tips for being fabulous are, what would they be?  They can be real-life things that you already do, or imaginary-idealised-how-you-would-love-to-be tips, you choose!


PS. If you have read Thirty Slim Days or any of my other books, I would be so grateful if you could take a minute to leave an honest review on Amazon.  Reviews are so important for authors; they give a reader an idea what to expect or even just help them trust that they will enjoy (or not!) the book.  I welcome all reviews because even the not-so-great ones give me valuable feedback for future books.  You can write a review here, or on your local Amazon if you prefer.


  1. One thing I love about travelling solo is being able to do more. Big mistake I made it taking someone w/ me to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We ended up arguing and sleeping in the hotel room meanwhile we had our own "Babettes" 70 year olds running circles around us and staying out late. She was also a retired school teacher from NYC. I think that is the secret in itself! lol!

    I wish I had good advice from a life well earned, but... here's what I found for me:
    1) Pursing my own style and aesthetic
    2) Crossing things off my bucket list (travel, jet sking, rock climbing)
    3) Having good conversations/being charming (learned from many years in retail)

    Down the road I'd love to turn into the kind of people I admire, a wise person that has insight based on experience. I look forward to reading everyone elses. Thank you for featuring Babette.

    1. Haha, I love it - the key to living well in retirement, being a schoolteacher from NYC! By the way, I think Babette is quite a bit younger than 70, I couldn't even try to guess what though.

      Thank you for your three top tips, I love them all. I also learned a lot about conversing with different types of people from my twelve years in retail :)

  2. My top 3 tips for looking and feeling fabulous have to be the following as they have served me well through the years:

    1. 8-8.5 hours of sleep, plus an hour of afternoon nap nearly every single day.
    2. Drinking warm or room-temp water all day. I don't drink coffee, tea or alcohol except on occasions. I love water as it is the best tasting drink when I feel thirsty. I am affectionately called the "water monster" by my family as I go through glasses upon glasses of water everyday.
    3. Taking the stairs as much as possible where ever I go. This is my secret to keeping my backside firm and shapely! I swear by this. I feel alive and accomplished when my heart is pumping hard after having conquered another flight of stairs. ;)

    1. Love your tips too, Natalie!

      At my Dior office job in the city, we sometimes used to go up and down the steps of our high-rise office building for our ten minute morning or afternoon break. It feels much more invigorating afterwards than eating a cake when energy is flagging.

      I love sleep and water also :)

  3. Hi Fiona, The top three tips for being fabulous are from what I admire in others, and what I strive to emulate:

    1) Someone who has fun and doesn't take him/herself too seriously. They have a good sense of humor and is easy going
    2) Compassionate and kind (this includes respect)
    3) Intelligent

    Nothing on my list involves aesthetics. Isn't it sad when we meet someone who is well-dressed and then we get to know them and it turns out they are a bore? It's tragic. The best thing is when someone can make me laugh until I'm practically crying. It's great.


    1. None of your top tips might be about aesthetics, D, but all the attributes you have listed definitely make someone better-looking, don't you think?

      A kind/fun/intelligent person who might be quite plain is much more attractive than a beautiful person who is nasty etc.

      I love laughing like that too; it must be so good for you :)

  4. My top tips for being fabulous, or at least feeling fabulous, which is maybe more important:

    1) Be genuinely interested in other people. I work in fundraising, and one thing I've learned is that everyone has something about them that is fascinating. A friend once told me that when I have a conversation with someone, I make them feel like they've known me forever, and like they're the only person in the room. It might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me, and I think it comes from the fact that I genuinely like to learn about people.

    2) Exercise, doing something you love. I think fitness is important, and nothing gives you a healthy glow like moving your body. But I also think we each need to find what makes us come alive. For me, it's running on wooded trails with my dogs. Nothing makes me or my dogs happier, and I think that joy is contagious.

    3)Relax. Worry and tension are not fabulous. They may be unavoidable at times, but being at ease in the world and with oneself seems to me to be a key aspect of fabulousness(fabulosity?) (I may just be making up fabulous words now).

    1. Yes, Marcia, feeling fabulous leads to being fabulous, I'm sure of it. Excellent thought!

      What a gorgeous compliment you talk about in point one. And I say go on making up words, the world needs more, especially of the good ones :)

  5. Babette sounds quite a character, but it's worth bearing in mind that perhaps she has been a sporty/active person all her life and so her lifestyle hasn't changed even though she's aged.
    Furthermore, some people manage to keep supple and don't develop arthritis, as I have done and which makes exercise very painful. I used to be active, I was a ten-pin bowler (and I won a trophy for my efforts, the only sporting trophy I have ever won!) and I played tennis when younger, and then in my 30s I took up squash. This isn't a good activity if you have arthritis, as you tend to put a lot of pressure on your joints, but I loved it!
    I now walk for exercise, and even then I can't walk all that far, but I enjoy a stroll, which is a better way of describing it, by the sea or in the countryside. So exercise if you can, but if you can't, then don't worry about it. Worry/stress is as much a killer as inactivity.
    I would also say appreciate every day. That might sound a bit saccharine but I mean it. I'm so glad in a morning that I've woken up again! It's certainly better than the alternative! Husband and I really do appreciate each and every day even if we don't do anything in particular.
    Try and be optimistic. I'm naturally optimistic, a cup half full person, whereas my husband is a cup half empty person, so we balance. But many people are so negative they are depressing to be with, nothing is ever right for them, they moan about their ailments constantly, all they can talk about (in my age group in particular) are the number of funerals they have attended, how expensive things are compared with when they were young (and I confess to being guilty of this, and now I try and stop myself as it is not only silly, as costs are bound to rise, but meaningless to younger people). You only have to be behind some old people in a queue and they talk about their medical appointments and their medications ad nauseam (no pun intended!)
    Finally, laugh a lot! Husband and I have some silly jokes that we only have to say one word and we are convulsed with laughter. Laughter really is the best medicine!
    Margaret P

    1. I'm not sure if Babette has been sporty all her life, Margaret, but I'd guess she has. This is all the more encouragement for me to be more active as I age and not less - which probably isn't possible :)

      If you have your ten-pin trophy, I hope you display it proudly! I don't think I have ever won a sports award but I do remember getting spelling certificates at primary school :)

      I love your other top tips too. I think it's so funny that funerals and medications are the topics of your peers. No wonder you want to talk about different things!

    2. I dumped the trophy when we moved here in 1985. It wasn't exactly an Oscar, ha ha. The only other 'prize' I've ever won was a school prize for Musical Appreciation - I had made a scrap book of all things musical, composers, film music, programmes on radio and TV, conductors, LP records, singers and musicians, and decorated the scrap book, too. It was just a fun thing to do, and it won me a prize.
      But I'm determined not to harp (pardon the pun) on about medications and funerals and hospital appointments all the time as do so many elderly people we meet. When I meet my friends we talk about books and writing, collecting, magazines, our finds in charity shops and so forth, much more fun!
      Margaret P

  6. What a fabulous read on Babette! I'm so glad you got to meet people like her and still keep in touch. I "see" a lot of chic and fabulous ladies during my trips but only took mental notes of them. The only "sporty" thing I do on our trip is put in at least, hiking. I love hikings and immersing myself into the woods or forsest and high up the mountains since I don't know how to swim (on my list of fears to overcome). Even if it's in the city I look for a park. When at home I would do workout videos (I like strength training) for exercise at least 30 minutes. I count for carrying Miss T up the stairs as an extra strength training:).
    Have a good day Fiona!

    1. I love hiking and walking too, Ping; maybe I'm not so lazy!!! So nice to hear from you :)

  7. I'm not personally fabulous, but I would say the top three things I want to keep doing that I think make me interested in life and maybe interesting to others are:
    1. Keep an active mind and keep learning new things, which can mean reading a book, doing hard crosswords, learning a new piece of music (I'm a classical singer), trying a new recipe, going to museums and concerts, taking a class, etc.
    2. Finding ways to help others, whether by volunteering for some good cause, giving generously to charity, smiling and being friendly to all, giving comfort to a friend who's down, etc.
    3. Staying physically active (for me that means regular walking, taking the stairs, parking far away instead of looking for the closest spot, convincing my husband to take a ballroom dancing class).

    This is a great topic, Fiona!

    1. I beg to differ, Karen, that you are not fabulous... :) And I love your three tips, all fantastic!

  8. Fiona, thank you for sharing Babette's fabulous tips! I love to learn from fantastic women all over the world for their beauty and lifestyle secrets.

    My top 3 tips for feeling fabulous are:
    1) laugh (I think the more dire the situations, the more I need to remind myself to laugh.... Sometimes, I forget!)
    2) craving alone time to BE (daydreaming and doing absolutely fuels & recharges my creative juice to manage real life's happenings)
    3) reminding myself to let people BE (still a work in progress for moi)

    And can I boldly have a 4th? Dress up!
    I know this is shallow but
    My motto is: look good, feel good, do good.

    Happy Easter!❤️

    1. Happy Easter to you, Princess. As a fellow introvert as well as a control freak, I can totally relate to all your tips! And dressing up, yes of course :)

  9. I would not feel badly about being lazy on vacations Fiona, especially as you were working hard with your own business. It was time to relax! Now that you've sold your business, you will most likely feel more energized to have more active vacations. I think it is all about what stage of life we're in.
    And I know what you mean about a "sedentary, nibbling" lifestyle. That is me! And especially as I get older I have to fight this tendency as it's not healthy.
    What a great thing you were able to meet such an inspiring new friend.
    I'm not sure what I can add to what's already been said, but . . .
    1. Exercise. I just resist it so much, but it truly is the "magic bullet" for all kinds of ailments.
    2. Dress up every day. It just makes you feel better.
    3. Stay curious and keep learning. Right now I'm re-learning how to knit and play the piano. I'm planning a trip that's really out of my comfort zone, too!
    and 4., if I can add it, be kind and do special things for others. I can get too introspective, and being other-focused keeps me balanced and brings much joy.
    You always have great posts Fiona! xo Deborah

    1. Hi Deborah, wonderful tips from a caring and elegant lady, thank you for sharing :)

  10. Hello, Fiona. Happy Easter. Fabulous continues to escape me, but I keep trying.

    My 2017 resolution was to do the 4 "30 Chic Days" programs, one in the first month of each quarter. I am halfway through my second session. My goal is to increase my mindfulness. I don't think there have been massive improvements, but I have had more compliments on my hair than usual. I have found two day dresses that are more elegant than my usual attire. And a woman I admire professionally recently admitted that I am her chic role model (me?!). So, thank you, Fiona, for your lovely programs. The 30 Chic Days plan is definitely my #1 tip.

    1. Kerry, I'm sure you are more than fabulous. It's all a state of mind, dahling!

      I am so tickled that you are doing your own 30 Chic Days each quarter. In my opinion, massive improvements are not the goal. If you are adding and practicing tiny changes, over time they will all add up. And from what you have mentioned, you have some quite significant outcomes already. Well done and thank you for making my day!

  11. Thank you for the post, Fiona! As a newly retired teacher/librarian I was very interested. My tips would be 1) Walk every day...enjoy nature 2) Keep reading and learning and 3)Enjoy each day and embrace change! You think that everything will remain the same and it can't. We are taking charge of our retirement and aging. Though only in our early 60's we have sold our rather too large home, are downsizing and moving into and apartment home in an active "retirement" community with many options for exercise, friendships, learning, and growth! In touring the spot we have already made new friends...and we get to pick out the furnishings for our new place. Exciting, scary, but we are very grateful to do this and age well! That would be my other GRATEFUL! For everyday and everything. I wish you luck on your new journeys and will look for more great posts. Blessings to you !

    1. Exactly Ann, taking charge of your retirement and aging - well said! What a lovely comment and I wish you well in your new life :)


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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