Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to stay youthful

Sunday fun - I bottle-fed Morris the abandoned lamb :)

We have been in our new home and new small-town country lifestyle for a month now.  It seems like much longer than that; indeed the big city seems a lifetime away.

There’s a great saying that says you create your environment, and then your environment creates you.  Two things that have changed for me lately, I don’t know if they would have happened anyway but I have a strong feeling they have changed because I am now in a completely different environment than I was before we moved.  Different house, different town, different lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter what is true, because I am learning to be more open to change and following along with the flow of how I feel inside.  Learning to trust that what I am feeling is what is right for me to do.

I truly believe that being flexible in the mind is a key aspect of staying youthful.  I am cultivating this flexibility by saying ‘yes’ to new things and trying them out, rather than saying ‘no I don’t do that’.  It’s not going along with other people, it’s going along with myself.  I have this vision of myself becoming more rigid over time and turning into a person who has a very narrow range of movement which doesn’t feel good.  Perhaps it is something that can happen naturally as you get older unless you address it – getting ‘set in your ways.’

Of course it’s good to show a steady way of being and have people feel comfortable around you because you are reliable and un-flaky, however it doesn’t feel good to be to be predictable.

My first big change is that I joined a gym to lift weights and I love it.  I’ve been going almost three weeks now and it feels good.  I am getting fitter and stronger every day and can see myself in a year's time with a completely transformed physique.

An added bonus is that my achy right shoulder and arm from all the computer work and writing I do feels better already. My husband reckons that lifting weights is the fountain of youth and he may be right.  I don't do anything heavy, just enough to feel it, and I do three sessions each week. My goal is to combine strength and elegance.

My second big change is one that I honestly thought I would never see, not that I was dead against it, I just didn’t have the desire.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I stopped drinking alcohol after reading a library book – yes it was some book!  I have written about being a non-drinker here and here.  Well, about two weeks ago I woke up one morning and thought ‘I’d like to try wine again’.  So I did that night, and now I have a few drinks on the weekend.

It was a really strange feeling.  When I didn't drink, I didn't want to.  It would have been too weird to sip wine, I just couldn't do it.  Now that I have made the decision to do it, I feel calm and relaxed about it.

I realized later that part of my decision process was influenced by a book I'd just finished by Paul McKenna called Get Control of Sugar Now.  It's not that long and I ordered it on Kindle from Amazon.  There are many techniques in the book to help you go from a sugar-maniac (my words) to someone who can take or leave it.  I read it within a few days and did each exercise at the end of each chapter, not in a write it down and do it properly way, but in an in-my-head as I go way.  I have not done the 37 days of exercises (repeating them over and over again) but I may do if I need it.

The message of this book is that you go sugar-free then let a small amount into your life.  If it gets out of control again, repeat the above.  The mindset exercises help with this and I really like his message of moderation.

So with Paul McKenna's words in my mind, I felt more confident that I wouldn't be blowing the best thing that had happened to me, and I told my husband I wanted to have a glass of wine - that night!  I believe in striking while the iron is hot; when you get the idea to do something, do it right then because the energy is strongest at that time.

When I say ‘blowing the best thing that had happened to me’, I mean that I loved being a non-drinker.  I felt good all the time, but I also love honouring my feelings and trying out new things.  I am taking it easy, only having one or two small glasses of wine of an evening.

If anything, I think my five-plus years off alcohol has given me a new respect for it.  I don’t particularly like the drunk feeling so if I feel myself going too fast I naturally pull back.  Of course you can’t drink alcohol and not have a relaxed feeling, but it feels good to keep it in the mild range and then come back to normalness, instead of enjoying that feeling and wanting more.

These two changes in my life came about as thoughts and feelings from within, and I truly believe they were divinely guided.  Both have turned out well so far and I am very happy that I was open to letting them in.  It also gives me more confidence to trust my internal guidance system more and not be afraid to make big decisions that could potentially transform my life for the better.

When we are too scared to make changes for fear of consequences (I had to work through that before I tried wine again), it can leave us feeling stuck in a pen and like we cannot move freely.

I think there is a fine line between being so rigid that you feel you can never change anything; that how you are now and what you do now is going to remain the same until the day you die, and being so loose that you are not a cohesive person.  There is a third way to be and I’m loving trying it out!

A third and smaller change, I guess, is that I am going to be putting my weekly blog post out on a Tuesday (Monday for those of you in a different time-zone).  Now that we are more settled in our new home, I am creating myself a little work schedule to do all the things I want to in a week and remain stress-free.  Concentrating most things towards the start of the week feels better than leaving them towards the end of the week, and going into the weekend.  I want to do my blog work, make progress on my current writing projects, do house chores as well as have time for reading and crafting.

Of course, being me it is all on a spreadsheet; I thought it might be fun to print it out each Monday and tick things off as I do them. And I can update that sheet with changes from time to time.  I’ll share my schedule with you one day when I have it a bit more fine-tuned, but for now it’s an excellent and exciting work in progress.

What about you?  Do you accept change into your life easily or do you feel you are a bit more regimented?  Do you listen to your internal/gut feelings and take action on them?  I’m loving this new flexible me; long live staying youthful by being open to change!



PS.  Thank you to everyone who has ever left reviews for my books.  I was thrilled to see that my latest book Thirty Slim Days: Create your slender and healthy life in a fun and enjoyable way has four- and five-star reviews on Amazon (so far anyway!)  This really means a lot to me because it shows you are enjoying the book and finding it really useful.

If you haven’t already read Thirty Slim Days, it's all about making being slim and healthy fun and easy by changing your mindset in lots of little enjoyable ways.  You can find it here, on Kindle for instant delivery or you can be sent a paperback too.


  1. Dear Fiona, I love, love, love this post! This has got to be one of my favorites. I've been doing a lot of the same tweaking as you lately. When I feel too set in my ways I challenge myself to remain open minded and just let go a bit. I don't think it's healthy to be too extreme in anything. Like you, I'll have a small amount of wine if I feel like it. Just about a quarter of a wineglass is enough to relax me and I stop there, whereas in the past few years I would deny myself this bit of luxury and would've said "I don't drink." There is always and should be a middle ground, that's the sweet spot, things don't have to be black and white (unless of course there is a necessity like a health issue or something related).

    I hear the French use the response "Why not?" a lot. In general, I think they are open to trying new things, and I like that, especially as I am getting older :)

    That lamb!


    1. I love that saying 'Why not?'!! It may just become a personal motto :)

  2. Hi Fiona! Good job with the weights! A few years back after reading your blog post about No More Hangovers by Allen Carr, I actually bought the book from Amazon. Unfortunately it did not have the same effect on me. A few days ago though I got his bigger book out of the library "The Easy Way to Quit Drinking". I understand what you mean about the "third way of being". My husband is that way...I on the other hand tend to be "all or nothing" which can get you in trouble. I'm confident that you will be able to moderate. You seem to have a lot of discipline!

    1. We are all so different, Carla, that messages reach each of us in a different way. I can assure you that discipline was not the answer for me, I just got lucky I guess. There is no one path either; good luck finding the third way for you!

  3. And yet another fabulous & timely post, Fiona. You keep outdoing yourself!

    I'm now in my 60s (it amazes me to even type that because I don't feel it, however you're supposed to feel at 60+), & can say for a fact that the old adage "age is just a state of mind" really is true. I know people 20 years younger than I who are old. And many others older than I who seem to be age-resistant.

    The man in my life & I have been deliberately making some changes in our lives for the past year: nothing major, lifestyle mainly, eliminating any hint of drama, simplifying things even more than we already had, rethinking goals, realigning priorities & so on. We know the life we want & have become quite ruthless in getting rid of anything that doesn't support that -- what we do, what we eat, how we live, even, in a couple of instances, who we spend time with (that sounds harsh but sometimes you wind up spending time with people more out of habit than actual friendship; letting go can be done gently & more in a sense of release than rejection). We both adapt to change pretty easily.

    I think you'll really enjoy working with light weights. I've been doing a simple routine for 3 years & love how it makes me feel (& look!). It's excellent for maintaining bone density & balance, too. My dude's been lifting heavy weights for decades, although he's eased into simple maintenance now *he's* hit 60, & he finally got me to try it out although I resisted for years, thinking it would bulk me up. (I mean, he looks fabulous, but it's not a look I want for myself! LOL! But it's not the case at all.) It's amazing how just a light routine every couple of days can make you feel so energized & *healthy*.

    And good luck with your "third way". Sugar is my weakness. And finding the "third way" with it is really, really hard, so I look forward to updates on your discoveries as you move ahead.

    1. Hi Susanne, we sound very similar. For me too, it surprises me sometimes when I consider that I'll be fifty in a few years, because the inside doesn't change. The soul has no age. Inside I still feel like I'm sixteen and thinking about all the amazing things I want to do with my life. My husband and I talk about our new house like it's a real grown-up's house and wonder what the heck WE are doing living here, because we definitely don't feel like grown-ups yet!

      Yes, sugar is my ongoing work in progress too. I'm winning though :) *positive thinking*

  4. Wow! Good for you!
    It's funny that you mention drinking in the same breath as sugar. Alcohol is full of sugar! Some of us have an easier time than others at having a little and not a lot. I agree that it's good to allow yourself something from time to time, rather than being a hard-boiled ascetic. But if one (not necessarily you, but anybody) has a hard time to keep it (drinking, sugar, whatever) just occasional, and not a daily habit, then maybe it's smart to give a blanket no.

    1. Yes, alcohol = sugar. It's interesting though, I can have one or two glasses of wine and stop, but with sugar... well, it's best for me not to buy the things that are my weakness. Best not to have them in the house at all!

  5. There is nothing like a change in location to spur on changes. I think it is because you are needing new routines in a new place. You have inspired me to go and do some weights at my gym.
    I have never had a problem with drinking as I have always thought of it as a beverage to accompany food. A glass of wine with the meal because it makes the food taste better and the food makes the wine taste better is why I drink it. I have never found that it alters my mood at all so I have never had it to relax. For that I turn to the good old cup of tea!! I absolutely HATE the feeling of not being in control of my mind so as soon as I feel the slightest bit tipsy I stop drinking but this only happens if we are dining out with multiple courses and multiple wines.
    Unfortunately my brother has a dreadful problem with it and is just beginning to accept that he has to completely abstain. As support for him, we now have alcohol free gatherings when he is included.

    1. You sound like you have a great relationship with alcohol, and yes, I love tea too!

  6. Fiona so glad you are flowing with the changes in your life. You are listening to your inner self and enjoying life around you.
    What a great example you are in reminding us we can choose a different path if we so desire.
    Thank you for sharing your joy and BTW love the liitle lamb.
    Tracy H

  7. Ah, the talk about exercising...
    I am fifty and already a creature of the habits, and look now, this post made me rethinking about being more active.
    I do not mind the change of the day to receive the blog posts, because I truly enjoy reading every one of them.
    Thank you for the inspiration.
    Many regards

    1. Thank you, T :)

      As D said in the first comment, 'Why not?' You can always change your mind later if you don't like it.

  8. Wow! Thank you so much Fiona! What a great post as usual!

    As far as changes are concerned, I can't even start to tell you what a huge difference I'm experiencing now that I've stopped drinking... coffee. I used to suffer from all sorts of little discomforts for at least a couple of decades. I was constantly tired, my mind was sort of foggy, and I had most annoying itches in a few particular spots on my body. I even thought I was developing cancer in those places because the itch was just there for years for no particular reason at all. I also suffered from the most unbearable kind of hot flashes (flushes?) which I had at least every hour or even half-hour.

    Well, I stopped coffee finally when I noticed that abstaining from it relieved my hot flashes (flushes?) considerably. What a difference! After just a few days, I felt so active and lucid. The itches are gone!!! They bothered me for almost twenty years and they were gone overnight! It wasn't a developing cancer - it was my body's reaction to coffee! Strangely enough, my constant food cravings stopped too about the same time.

    I know there're a lot of people around who are perfectly fine with coffee but for those who have some funny and uncomfortable body reactions, coffee drinking just might be the cause. :-)))))

    Thank you so much again!

    1. Gosh, Fresie, you are really making me think I should not have coffee for a while just to see what happens! What a fabulous discovery for yourself.

  9. Beautiful post Fiona! I love that you are listening to your own intuition and open to change. It looks like it agrees with you and is perfect for your new life changes. We listen to so many outside sources that it's such a refreshing reminder to check in with ourselves and just listen to what we want. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thanks Stephanie!

      So how come I forget to listen to myself and have to re-remember all over again, lol.

  10. You look much more relaxed in your photos now! Your new location must be agreeing with you!

    I got into weights when I was in my twenties. I wasn't exercising, but I got a job waiting tables. All that carrying heavy trays built up my biceps. 'Wow!" I thought, "I really like having defined muscles!" So I took a class in weight training at the Y. Over the years, I have worked out at gyms, but now I have my own weight machine on my porch. It was a freebie from a moving sale: the guy didn't want to go to the bother of dismantling it to either take it with him or throw it away, so when my husband and I showed interest, he let us have it for free! Working out 3 days a week helps keep me young, I believe. The other 3 days, I do some yoga for flexibility and balance, and 1 day I can take off or I go hiking in fine weather. No... no cardio. I just haven't found any that I enjoy doing.

    1. Thank you Mimi, I do feel relaxed but did not think it was so extreme that photos would reflect that!

      I often wondered how wait staff carried those heavy trays, now I know, there is no secret, just get stronger :)

      Cardio isn't just running on a treadmill. I'd count hiking as cardio.

      Yay for staying young with resistance training.

  11. I am definitely interested in following your progress with the third way. Many women enjoy wine, as do I, but some of us struggle with the desire to drink more than is prudent. And it is an urge not a conscious decision. I am confident that it is related to a sugar addiction. Sometimes when I am thinking about having wine, I can control the urge with a bit of sweet. I want to continue to enjoy wine because it is actually very much a part of my social life; wine tastings, trips to the Finger Lakes wine district (lovely if you ever stop in Upstate New York) and lovely evenings with friends and family. So good luck, Fiona. I hope you can enjoy and keep it in its place.

    At 68 years old, I must say that I have done so much more in these last five years than I ever thought possible. Playing guitar, doing Zumba and visiting new places have taken the place of shopping for entertainment. As I have aged, I have lost my self-consciousness which hindered my younger self. So as I age, I am "youthening." But I am also much more able to screen out things that just don't seem necessary, like Twitter. That might appear to be a form of stodginess, but I call it "clearing clutter." Ciao!

  12. Hi there, I just wanted to say I combined your last post (specifically #8 bra and indie clear out), and todays post. A few of my bras were making me feel older than I am.

    I got rid of all of my nude color bras - they were very utilitarian with not much else going for them. I replaced all of them with only one, much prettier nude one and a few white bra/panty sets with delicate details.
    I feel so much better, not so dowdy!


  13. I love your comments so much PPP :) You would be a very stylish turtle.

  14. Hi Fiona, Just re-read this post and wondered if you are still doing some weights, or have moved on to other exercise. I'm thinking of trying weights, but wouldn't know where to start! Thanks, Kay

    1. Hi Kay! No, I am no longer doing weights. I did go to the gym for quite a while but then, as always, I became bored with it. I had a period of just walking, and then about three months ago I joined a yoga studio and now to hot yoga and pilates 2-3 times a week. It feels great - I feel like I'm getting stronger and fitter, but it's also most feminine and pleasurable too. Don't get me wrong, it's not easy, but it feels more of a treat than going to the gym for me right now. If you join a gym they will help you work out a simple weights program and then you can see if you like it. Give it at least six to twelve months and then decide if you want to continue or try something else! Good luck!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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