In pursuit of youth

Nora Ephron (American writer and filmmaker, sadly deceased and most famous for writing ‘When Harry Met Sally’) wrote some really enjoyable essays on being a woman and ageing. If you haven’t read them I recommend getting a copy of ‘I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman’. These essays made me smile as they eloquently described some of the struggles and frustrations we all face as we age. The disappointment of looking at our sagging faces in the mirror and not quite believing the ageing process.

To cheer myself up I regularly remind myself, and anyone who will listen, that I am the same age as Kylie Minogue. This gives me some hope that if I put in some effort I could look much much better (although I do not have access to a team of stylists and make up artists….not yet anyhow).

I am reminded of the Nora Ephron book as I take delivery of my latest order of products from Healthspan which I am hoping will propel me backwards into youth. I am a bit of a supplement junkie, always searching for the product that will give me a boost of vitality and beauty.

This time I am trying Soy Isoflavones to replace some of my rapidly declining oestrogen (or estrogen to my lovely readers from the US). I was also hoping for great things from a tube of ‘Instant Skin Perfector’ which is enriched with phytoestrogens and is slightly tinted.

Can’t really comment on the Soy Isoflavones yet, but I am quite pleased with the cream. The effect is very subtle ( I put some on half my face and asked my husband to tell me which half… which he got right. He is a very patient man!) It makes my skin tone more consistent and minimises pores, but does not cover the skin. A good base for make up.

If I feel guilty about treating myself I remind myself of Nora Ephron who always bought her favourite, extravagant lemon bath oil (Dr Hauschka) because..well why shouldn’t she?


The Big Life Tune-Up: Part 1


Although I am a new and inexperienced blogger, I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying it and thanks to anyone who is reading. I still find it amazing that someone on the other side of the world can read my random ramblings! However far apart we live, we all share the same problems and experiences.
So in preparation for my eldest son leaving home to go to university, I have decided to tune-up my life in four key categories:

1. My looks and style
2. My career
3. Future plans for income and location
4. Fitness and health

So here is my progress so far on Part 1. Firstly, I have severely edited my wardrobe using the Project 333 philosophy. The idea is that you choose 33 items ( excluding underwear and nightwear), but including accessories. These 33 items are swapped/reviewed every three months. Everything else is sent to charity shops or packed up and put away. This has definitely simplified my life. There are fewer clothes to consider each day which I find refreshing. It is a joy to have an uncluttered wardrobe. In addition, I have set some rules for myself that each day I must: put make-up on ( only the fresh-face of youth can get away with no make-up); wear some jewellery or a scarf ( I tend to not bother with accessories) and do something with my hair ( it is a stranger to the hairdryer). I am getting there, but finding it hard to accept that I must spend more than 5 minutes getting ready. I am a very impatient person! Also, I will need to give some thought to how to avoid middle-aged blandness when choosing new clothes in the future. It is quite a challenge,  but there are some great blogs out there full of ideas for a stylish midlife. I love to be inspired by Alyson Walsh’s ‘That’s Not My Age’ and many others.

The optician also stands to benefit from my style edit as I am going to attempt to ditch the glasses and get used to contact lenses once again. I have never managed to crack the “glamorous with glasses” look, rather I look sensible and boring. However, if the contact lenses give me blood-shot eyes then I will at least look as if I lead a more interesting life. Still not sure how to create an overall ‘look’. Is 49 too old for Punk?


Tune Up part 2 coming soon……


What is style?


Style is elusive and intangible. What is it really? How can two people wear virtually the same clothes ( such as jeans with a Bretton top) and one looks stylish and the other looks sensible and mumsy? It is a mystery to me which is why I am the one who looks mumsy rather than sexy. Perhaps it is the small things (that I usually forget)… jewellery, interesting shoes, a stylish bag, belt, sunglasses and a little dash of attitude. Yes, that must be it. It is the salt, pepper and spices that I am missing. The one or two little extras that add some interest or mystery to an otherwise boring outfit. There are so many considerations when re-vamping the wardrobe. For me the outfits need to be practical and wearable, but how to achieve this without being mind-numbingly dull? I have all the basics…T shirts, jeans, jumpers, but the total effect is usually completely forgettable and non-descript. Fashionistas, how do you do it?
Getting stylish is the first challenge in my ‘Big Life Re-tune’ and this is going to be tough for me. Thankfully there are some great blogs out there to help me spice up the blandness of my wardrobe. Here goes….

Learning to let go

In ‘My Family and other Animals’ Gerald Durrell described his brother, Larry, as a blonde firework who explodes ideas in other people’s minds and then takes no responsibility for the consequences. This has always reminded me of my eldest son who is so full of energy and is always bubbling over with new thoughts and ideas. He is now 18 and will be leaving home in September to start university. I can hardly believe how the years have shot past and my own blonde firework will shortly be leaving home. I am not fully prepared for this change and am slightly worried about how I will cope. To preempt any possible fallout, I have decided to develop some exciting plans of my own so that it doesn’t hit me too hard- and also so that I can let him go with joy and not be a needy mother. If I am suffering, then he mustn’t see it because this is such an important and happy milestone for him with so much to look forward to. We are all responsible for our own happiness and should not burden other people with our woes. If there is not enough in my life once he has gone then it is my problem to fix. So my big summer project is to tune-up my life. This is huge and exciting and falls into four key areas:-

My looks and style
My career
Future plans for income and location
Fitness and health

So, part 1 coming up…not sure where this is all going to lead but it should be good!

Look the part

Personally, I have never thought too much about looking the part, or how I am perceived by others. I am usually preoccupied by what I am doing rather than what people think of me. I like to think that I don’t judge or make assumptions based on looks, clothes or the car someone is driving and, I suppose, I have thought that judgements are not being made about me. It has taken too long to realise that I am quite wrong. Firstly, I do make subconscious judgements all the time ( even though I don’t want to) and secondly, I am being judged and categorised by others. Now, I could rebel against this, because It is wrong to make assumptions based on looks, clothes and cars- and haven’t we always been told it’s wrong to stereotype? The truth is that stereotyping is a psychological process that we all use to simplify a very complex social world. We need to be able to quickly categorise people (starting with ‘are they a danger to me?’ ) in order to process and manage the world we live in. It is extremely difficult to disengage this core part of human nature. So yes, I am being judged and I am judging others. With this in mind, it is important to understand what image we are projecting (on a simple visual level). How would I be instantly categorised and is it in line with who I am and how I want to be perceived? It has taken me many years of denial to come to the conclusion that if you want to succeed in our society, if you want others to buy into what you have to offer, then you have to play by the rules and look the part.
So, how do you want to be categorised? Are you still wearing the same clothes that you did five or ten years ago, even though your story has changed? How do you want to be seen today? Artist, entrepreneur, super organised? What would people, with the characteristics you wish to project, look like and can you build a mood board of these looks? The disappointing truth for me was that I looked like a slightly tired, bland, forgettable middle-aged stay-at-home Mum. What I actually want to portray is energetic, successful female entrepreneur. It is quite exciting and refreshing to realise this. I have already started my re-vamp without any guilt about getting new clothes, a new haircut and a manicure. I am now convinced that this is vital for success, not merely a self-indulgence. Here’s to looking the part!

Be Uncompromising

We all need to compromise, but what I have come to realise is that too much compromise leads to a life of mediocrity- a world of “I would love to” rather than ” I intend to”. I have spent my life (so far) compromising on just about everything: my career, how I spend my time, what I eat…everything. This has led to a being surrounded by a lovely and happy family, but little feeling of personal achievement in terms of career or self-development. Like most women, my main concern is the harmony and happiness of my loved ones and I generally put my own needs towards the bottom of the list. I think there is a lot to be said for not always (or even usually) putting yourself first. Perhaps we are all happier when we are primarily focusing on other people and those I meet who are mainly self-focussed are often not very happy..even though they have freedom to spend all their time on themselves! However, I have now come to the conclusion that in order to have an element of something exceptional in your life, it is important to hand pick a few things (which will change every so often) that you do not compromise on. So, I am under taking a 30 day challenge during which I will not compromise on:-
My career and income aspirations. No more “it will do” thinking…I deserve a career and an income that matches my talent and experience. My career & income has flat-lined for years whilst my children were growing up. Now is the time to get it back on track, make big decisions and move forward. If I cannot find a career move that will satisfy my income goals, then I will create my own business/income. After 30 days I will have decided clear income/career goals and have a specific action plan that will lead to change.
My wellbeing. For the next 30 days I will make time for exercise every day, healthy eating and taking time to look good.

Say no to compromise and mediocrity!

100 Calorie Snacks


In my new diet plan of 1400 calories per day (weekday) and 1600 calories per day (weekends), I am allowed two 100 calorie snacks a day. So I have been scouring the supermarket shelves for new ideas. These are the ones I am trying at the moment.

Nairns Super Seeded Organic oatcakes with flaxseed, sunflower and chia seeds
These are very tasty with a generous serving of seeds. I love Nairns products- always tasty and nutritious. One oatcake is 44 calories with 1.3g of protein ( 13.4%). Delicious with a little hummus: easy, low calorie hummus coming soon. Available in Waitrose £1.39.

Kettle Bites mozzarella and pesto Lentil Curls. Very tasty and only 97 calories- more like a treat than a diet snack. The good thing about these is that they are made with 41% lentil flour, so have a better protein content than normal crisps. The protein is 12.9% which is 2.8g per 22g pack. Normal potato crisps, such as Walkers, are 6.1% protein (1.5g per 25g pack). Tesco £1.89

Marks and Spencer have a great range of healthy snacks. I haven’t tried them all yet, but their sour cream & chilli lentil curls are good. Again made with lentil flour (43%) giving 3g protein per 22g packet (13.6%). I have just bought a packet of their Pea Snaps (green chilli, lime and coriander), another crisp alternative, but I am not allowed to try these until my snack time tomorrow! They have a good protein content 3.8g per pack (18.1%). About 60p per bag.

Chocolate. I am not prepared to live without chocolate and it was something that had to be built into my programme. The problem is that most chocolate bars are way over the calorie limit. A small Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is 191 calories. So my solution is to buy a big bar of chocolate and break it into portions. This usually works out at 6 portions from 100g bar (about 4 small squares.) I break the bar up and wrap each in some silver foil, so I am not tempted to eat the whole bar. Lindt 70% 100g, £1.89 Waitrose

Aldi has a range of healthier snacks called ‘ The Foodie Market’ nicely packaged in kraft-style cardboard boxes. The “Properly Plump Pumpkin and Cinnamon” fruit and veg bars are good for a sweet snack. I know fruit bars can be a bit joyless-they will never be a chocolate bar- but I am quite enjoying them now when I fancy something sweet. Obviously you need to be a fan of cinnamon to enjoy these, and. Happily I am. Each bar is just 89 calories and they contain apple, pumpkin, oat flakes and hemp seed. However, a bar does not count as one of your 5 per day, unlike Naked Bars (which are sadly over my 100 calorie limit). 2.6g of protein per bar (8.5%) Pack of 5 £1.99 Aldi

I have also bought a box of ‘Gloriously Fruity Flapjacks’ which are 106 calories. They are small and chewy. Not the best flapjack I have tasted, but sweet and comforting. I think children would eat these and they would work well for lunch boxes. Mainly sweetened with honey, they also contain oats, sultanas, apricots, papaya and seeds (sunflower and linseeds). The percentage of fruit is very low. There are no obvious fruit pieces and they are soft and chewy. 2.6g protein per bar (8.5%). The protein content is apparently identical in the two different types of bar. Curious.
Available in Aldi.

So I’ve got the snacks sorted, next thing to work on is the 250 calorie breakfast. Until next time x