GO FIGURE | 57 | 4 DRESS SIZES SMALLER | & I A WEALTH OF HEALTH
Are you 50 or over? Have your family Dynamics changed? Have the children flown the nest and left you not knowing what to do with all of your spare time now that you don't have to fill it with the expectations and demands of others? Do you roll your wary eyes whenever you have to do anything for yourself? Does your heart sink along with your mood each morning you look in the mirror seeing the changes to your face and figure? Is your zest for life lethargic and refusing to re-emerge? Tired of being a sight for sore eyes? When was the last time you went anywhere or did anything exciting just for you? Are you recovering from illness or regaining your mobility? Are you that friend who always comes up with excuses why you cannot come out while vowing to go the next time? When was the last time your mobile phone alerts, calendar notifications or post-it notes on the fridge were all about you? Maturity should not make you immune to carving out time to take care of the re-packaging and marketing of YOU! Getting old is inevitable, looking old is a choice. Considering the billions spent each year on anti-ageing products and celebs queueing up to that endorse the latest cosmetic invention, you are in good company at the "I don’t want to look old" club.
Look at it as embarking on a creative journey, an exploration of resolving any problems you may come up against in your mature years. You will make mistakes and come across ideas that work for others but just do not look good on you. Try them all and keep what works for you. Be it exercise, fashion or makeup, having a good handle on what you can wear to feel good and look great, is going to be your biggest battle. Remember WE have earnt the right not to follow any social pressurising rules applicable to OUR age or size. Below I have set out some simple tips I use to take the guesswork out of looking good, each and every day.
“The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”
PLANNER/CALENDAR: The first thing is to get rid of and recycle your “Things for Mum/Wife/Partner to do" calendar. No more school holiday dates, parent evenings, coming home from university dates, dentist to remove your braces dates, doctors/hospital appointments. You are going to create a calendar for YOU around YOU. The primary use of YOUR calendar is to identify date nights, girly nights, nail appointments, removal of hair dates, nail salon dates, hairdresser appointments, date nights, exercise classes, eye tests, hearing tests, smear tests, breast cancer screening, blood tests, GP appointments, flu jab appointments, weekends away, holidays abroad, spa weekends, wine tasting dates, festival dates and last but not least, simply put your feet up on the phone for hours dates! Jot down what you need from the supermarket or drug store on a post-it and stick it on the refrigerator. "Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come."
SIGNATURE SCENT – A signature scent is one thing classy women have in common. Despite the
plethora of fragrances available, there is a bottle out there with YOU in it in a liquid format. A signature fragrance works hand in hand with your body chemistry and not only speaks to you but for you, without the use of words. Such an aroma might as well have your name on it because when anyone smells it they will associate it with you. Don’t be afraid to reawaken your sense of smell with a golden oldie. My rebound scent is Poemé. When searching for your signature scent try out three or four fragrances at a time. Spray one scent on each wrist and inner elbow and see how each scent evolves over a 4 hour period once the heat from your skin agitates the fragrant chemicals. Perfume is not meant to mask your natural scent but blend with your natural scent to enhance it.
Feeling confident and elegant, I no longer mind walking into a club, dance or restaurant and being the only plus size woman. I relish going out and navigating my curvy body through a crowd only to see slimmer women stop talking or frown and/or the predatory glint in the eyes of their men following me as I walk on by leaving everyone standing in a cloud of my signature scent Thierry Mugler’s Aura. Only the other morning, as I neared the bus stop my attention, was immediately drawn to a dashing, well-dressed gentleman. Thinking “I do hope he looks as good from the front as he does from the back” I forced him to turn by apologising for nudging him with my handbag as I slipped into the queue behind him. Once I had his attention, I looked up and pretended to focus my gaze on the ever-changing countdown arrival schedule, while keeping him in my eye line. There was certainly interest in his gaze. For the next 5 minutes, he looked away each time our eyes would meet. I moved forward as my bus pulled up at the bus stop. This gentleman used his broad back to stem the rush of passengers and said: "after you". I smiled widely but declined graciously saying "thank you, my bus is the one behind". The disappointment on his face was a boost to my ego but his chivalry was not wasted on me. This encounter was yet another positive endorsement when I was not passed over by a handsome gentleman for a younger, slimmer version. I was overjoyed to know that at 57 I was still considered “hot”!
The most humbling lesson I have learnt when exercising is that “Rome was not built in a day”. When I push myself too hard on the treadmill, my knees are so sore it is difficult to walk let alone exercise, which completely “defeats the object of the exercise” please excuse the pun! Try not to become daunted by having to overhaul your entire body. Diarising dates to take care of each body part will make what lies ahead achievable. I am going to be honest, for the first few months you are going to be that person often referred to as “high maintenance”, but as a woman who recently invested time and money in herself I can attest it will be money and time well spent.
CLASSIC & NEW
Upgrade: Changing the buttons on your cheaper/basic clothes can be an inexpensive, relatively
simple way to freshen an item. Simple plastic buttons can make your clothing look cheap. Buttons out of other materials, such as bone, metal, or pearl are all timeless and will make your clothes look more expensive.
Here is a basic black boyfriend cardigan that I upgraded by swapping plastic for classic faux black pearl and gold buttons. A cardigan is a wardrobe staple that can be worn a little bit longer wear when transitioning from winter into spring. As can be seen from the photo above - mixing casual with formal brings makes this outfit very easy to wear and great for this time of year. Throw on a pair of trainers and a really simple ankle boot with this cooler weather, and make those timeless pieces, like a cardigan you already own really work even harder.
H&M CAMEL KNITTED JUMPER
Oversize not Baggy: Structured fitting clothes always looks elegant. Stay away from boxy, flowy, baggy kind of outfits. H&M Knitted Jumper, Camel £17.99 Size XL. My continued inch loss makes the oversize trend my favourite. This relaxed style is not only flattering but works best for me until I am confident enough to wear body-con or form-fitting clothing. This look is also perfect where you have been unable to wear your favourite button down due to gaping at the bust or unable to button up comfortably around the stomach area. Oversized items are large in the shoulders and the waist and yet structured enough to avoid looking like your clothes have stretched in thewash or on the hanger! Walking on the treadmill has toned and improved the look of my legs allowing me to balance out the look with a slimmer fit on my lower half. As with any change, I didn’t want to go crashing in and these delicate, oversized pieces from H&M allowed me to test the look on me. H&M Frill-Trimmed Knitted Jumper, Natural White £14.99 Size XL. These items will be an unforgettable high point in my inch loss journey as they are NOT available in the “Plus Size” range!
I want to entice you out of your leggings and sweats into more form-fitting clothes. I am the worst culprit and find it far too easy to “just slip into” comfy clothes. Comfy does not mean
frumpy or shapeless as per my Valentines 2019 blog, and photo. Exercise and inch loss means that, without thinking I habitually reach for a cami, boyfriend/straight jeans chunky jumper and layered necklace, chunky trainers or heels just to get my nails done. Once I got into the habit of making an effort, the easier it was to sustain it. You too will feel better in yourself and the compliments that will follow, won’t hurt either! A polished look means you are ready for anything. Remember, you never know who you are going to run into - it could be your ex or it could be your future!
Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Do you yearn to feel like that again? Then come with me. Let’s roll back the years, have some fun "shopping" in your wardrobes, play dress up, get inspired and re-establish a positive relationship with the mirror. With dollops of style and class, we are going to create new outfits from the pieces you already own and love.
NOTE TO SELF: You are going to come across pieces that you love but that no longer love you back! Celebrate success and learn from failures. Take photos of the outfits you create for days when you are not inspired, motivated or have a mental block looking at a sea of clothes. Photos will remind you of the outfits you created and liked and really feel comfortable in. It is amazing how quickly we forget. You may find a look where you own similar pieces but just have not thought of putting the outfit together, the way they are on the model. The photo above “Classic & New” of the model wearing a black cardigan and baby blue midi pleated skirt, took my own ideas about how to wear cardigans from hero to zero.
To maximise my outfit range when shopping I have learnt to think in outfits as opposed to single items. I take full advantage of the fact that retailers sell their clothes in “outfits” and have taken all the hard work out of it. Walking along Oxford Street many years ago, I saw Chinese tourists standing in front Selfridges taking photos. I had to pop out, later on, to do something for my boss and found the same group of tourists in lower-end retail shops referring to the photos they had taken earlier to duplicate the look at a much lower cost. You might be able to identify that a lot of the looks that you are drawn to or that you like are all worn with ankle boots or a specific type of jewellery and it may be a hole in your wardrobe that you want to plug or that potentially needs filling.
COMFORTABLE FASHIONABLE SHOES
By this stage in life, many of us have developed foot problems. Years of abuse from wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes, injuries, and weight changes often cause bunions, hammer toes, arthritis
or simply painful feet. Having had DVT in my right foot which despite a full recovery remains swollen more often than not, I have to be careful with my footwear selection. Now’s the time to invest in comfy shoes. I used to think words like comfortable, low heeled, cushioned or wide fitting when describing shoes were code names for ugly, but no more. As can be seen from the latest additions to my already extensive shoe collection more and more retailers like SimplyBe and JDWilliams sell comfy shoes that are fashionable.
NELL CHUNKY/UGLY DADDY TRAINER
With spring beckoning these white/off white trainers, with chunky detail and thick laces is the way to go. They arrived just as I was taking my compare photos wearing my corporate outfit of the day. These trainers often look best when styled with their tailored opposite. A touch of feminine elegance like this pair of Together Navy Crop Trousers and Blue button down with peplum provides a flattering contrast that elevates the look from clumsy to well thought out.
Dare & Wear: I was resolute that the chunky trainer was a trend that I was not going to like, let alone get behind. But after watching many YouTube videos and with every celeb photographed wearing a pair, I decided I had to get them. Convinced I was going to be weighed down by hefty clomping footwear or become at the very least become the latest “fashion victim” I decided not to splurge on a pair of Balenciaga's sell-out Triple S’s, (which usually comes with a waiting list) and opted instead, for these FashionWorld next day delivery, Nell Chunky/Ugly Daddy Wide E Fit (Size8) Trainers, at a cost of £25 with 30% of the purchase price donated to Breast Cancer. The Discovery Bow Flatform Plimsolls from ASOS £25 Size 8 commanded numerous compliments at the Afro Hair & Beauty show 2018.
Now whether you love them or loathe them, it is predicted that the chunky trainer will be sticking around for a while. For me, to be able to spruce up a pair of extremely chunky trainers with sharp ankle grazers, a button down/roll neck, blazer, midi dress or chic outerwear and make them workwear appropriate, is mind-blowing. At this stage in my life, wearing the Chunky/Ugly Daddy Trainer is not only comfortable but unexpected. The trainers are light and airy. If you want to look corporate, but still want your feet to look cute and feel comfortable, these chunky wide fit trainers are the answer.
Beautiful Nails at a Cost: Since taking blood pressure and other medication, I have noticed that I can no longer withstand the high-speed setting of the electric nail filing tool used by nail technicians. Moreover, since exercising and pumping all of that oxygen around my body my hair and my nails grow like wildfire, which means more frequent salon visits. While I still go to my local nail salon, I avoid like the plague, any technician that pretends to not understand me whenever I ask them to modify the speed of their electric equipment. As my mother used to say “he who feels it knows it!"
Accessorising is when I have the most fun when putting an outfit together. I have a pair of
faux/diamond clip on studs and a delicate layered necklace that is currently on trend. When I turned 50 I noticed, along with all the other changes my body was going through, that the piercing in my left ear would not remain open. I found it too painful re-piercing my ear so now that it has closed up again I have decided that going forward clip-on earrings would be best. These two photos mixing old with new merely endorses the proverb that "opposites attract". Neutral colours are classic and last a lifetime. Whenever in doubt get the flattering monochrome outfits out and when you contrast materials in the same shade you are guaranteed to look more expensive and chic. A classic monochrome background shows off each 15-year-old necklace perfectly while adding interest to an outfit. Matching your shoes and bag be it by colour or material is another way to instantly look polished.
Exercising restraint when applying anything to my face is key and the infamous YouTube “baking” equates to “caking” on me.
Embrace your T-zone: Yes you heard me! Stop looking flat & matt. Embrace your natural glow. In the words of Wayne Goss, “your makeup should look like skin”.
5 Minute Makeup: Find and use quick makeup application processes for your everyday makeup look. I have created a YouTube video on this very topic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pShDKF0FcZ8&t=3s).
Pucker up: Red lipstick is a foolproof way to keep your makeup to the bare minimum is to wear red lipstick that suits your skin tone. A classic red lip is a tried and tested way to accentuate one of our most sensual features.
Lip Pencil/Liner: Lip Pencils are effectively lip primers. Outlining your lips with a lip pencil means that if your lipstick is not a brand that lasts all day you will be left with lips outlined in pencil! Not a good look. So after outlining your lip continue to fill in your lips with the lip pencil before adding your lip shade/product on top. Lip pencils prime your lip and as the day goes on your lips will continue to look fantastic. If you want a little shine and do not have lipstick to hand put a little Carmen over top. And last but not least “Count your blessings, not your blemishes”.
EASTER 2019 UPDATE
BACK FAT & LOVE HANDLES: Filling an empty 1-litre bottle with water and holding it when doing my standing overhead side bend exercises have not only tapered and strengthened the sides of my body, melted away my hip, lower back, and abdominal fat but has all but eliminated the unsightly “muffin top” appearance. Less back fat equals no more slouching and my knees are no longer uncomfortably pushed up against the luggage box or glass when sitting on the priority seats at the front of the bus.
PHOTO ONE 06.10.18 ZIP UNDONE - v - PHOTO TWO 19.04.19 ZIP DONE UP
MY TAPE MEASURE DRESS: This time I have decided to diet and to measure my weight loss by focusing on how my clothes fit and not the numbers on a scale. Nothing is more frustrating than when your clothes fit you better and yet the scale doesn’t budge. My Tape Measure Dress compare photo clearly shows changes in my body composition and progress in my inch loss efforts. This is a more visually reliable way to track my progress. Did you know that even a slight decrease in your waist circumference can greatly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease?
PLUS -V- MINUS: Don’t get me wrong I am ecstatic that, inch loss means my online retail shopping world has just opened up tenfold i.e. now that I fit into H&M’s Standard XL sizing but the negative is that some of my best purchases from ASOS were only available in the Plus size range!
BATHING: When I half fill the bath with hot water and my favourite bubbles I can now step in, lie back and relax without the water level teetering on the rim of the bath and threatening to spill over if I move a muscle. Inch loss equals lower hot water levels with room to manoeuvre, relax my muscles, wind down, lower tensions and soak away the stress of the day.
DVT & IRONING: Now anyone who has had DVT in your leg will know that standing still for long periods is a medical no! Ironing is a stationary stand on your feet chore. I force myself to take regular breaks and undertaking other chores be it washing up then back to ironing, hovering back to ironing, marinating meat back to ironing, coffee/tea break back to ironing it not only breaks up the monotony but keeps me moving while getting all of my chores done. In the past, I would not take out the ironing board unless I was going to stand and iron everything. Oprah's quote “small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning” is a stark reminder that not so long ago I wasn’t able to set up the ironing board let alone iron 10 pieces.
EXERCISE/REVAMP: I look forward to Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Exercise has not only given me good health, inch loss and mobility it has given me freedom. The freedom to dial back the restrictive role, of mother, wife, sister, lover and invest my nurturing skills into me.
Walking is great for building bone strength, keeps your blood pressure low, your heart healthy and helps to maintain weight. The key is not to become discouraged if you find it will take a little more effort or time than expected to build up your health. Following two strokes exercising not only improved my physical health but gave me a massive boost in brain power as well. Simply having to recall the speed and/or incline of my previous gym visit, helped regain my cognitive skills, concentration and memory.
The trick is to remain focused on your end goal and to not let temporary distractions get in your way of achieving them - “Walk one day at a time and one Step at a time”. Like most things in life maintaining good health takes patience and persistence. Give your body what it needs. Just managing to take a few steps or do a few repetitions of your chosen exercise is enough to get you moving. As your activity increases so will your energy levels during the day. You will sleep better at night and be on the right track to maintaining a healthy weight. Once I felt that I had gained enough strength in my legs I increased the difficulty. On the treadmill that meant raising the incline or increasing the speed. While on the face of it walking is obviously good for your legs I hadn’t realised just how good it is for my hips, knees and stomach. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy. Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise just to lose weight. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes YOU feel good.
CONCLUSION Carve out time for yourself! MY TIME to me is either sat at my laptop blogging and the honour of pressing the "publish" button or hitting my treadmill targets followed by a sauna. You see exercise is a bit like blogging. While a number of bloggers are quite successful others give up once they realise the level of work and perseverance needed to run a good blog. Beginning my exercise regime was both daunting and painful. Committing to regular exercise has not been easy, but I had to acknowledge, if only to myself, that an eternal continuation of the “same old, same old” was NOT an option. Unknown to those closest to me, my immobility and consequential weight gain had negatively impacted on not only my confidence but on other areas of my life. Something had to change, or I was doomed to be stuck in a dark "spiraling out of control" rut. I am not going to lie, there was a lot of soreness for a few days after my first treadmill session but as my body recovered more quickly after each gym visit so too did the ache in my muscles subside. I began sleeping better and breathing easier. I was no longer short of breath walking to the bus stop. I haven’t looked back except at the fruits of my labour and ever improving health. It is as if my body has already worked out my middle-aged proportions and exercise serves only to sculpt my outline.
Be your body’s friend and supporter it’s the only one you have. Honour it, respect it and fuel it. Eat when you are hungry and rest when you are tired.
On this sunny Easter Bank Holiday Monday at 08:11 it is time to press the "Publish Post" button, download another audio book and begin packing for a spa like week away. Remember – TO ME every comment and voice matters. Your feedback is the oxygen that keeps my blog going. Until the next time X