How Lockdown Shaped me Mentally & Physically
Inch Loss Results as at 15 December 2020
Back in JUNE 2020 I DIDN’T WAKE UP LIKE THIS,
So I changed my lifestyle & started SPEED WALKING FOR THIS,
By September 2020 I graduated to TROTTING FOR THIS, &
By 15 December 2020 I was JOGGING THREE TIMES A WEEK FOR THIS
Dear Reader, welcome back on this last day of 2020! So much has changed since we were here last - COVID, a second lockdown, the cold winter nights are drawing in and working from home means loungewear has become our new daywear. Being high risk, I had to postpone my wedding, cancel my gym membership, walking developed into trotting/jogging and I only leave the house three times a week around 5:00 am to exercise and pop downstairs in the afternoons to take outfit photos to post on Instagram @yolanda1sworld.
Without warning I had a lot of time on my hands to reconsider all the things I have been taking for granted, like going to the gym on a whim, meeting up for brunch and social interaction whenever I wanted. Following the lockdown on 23rd March, I was forced to create a COVID safe lifestyle in and around my home.
While my bull mastiff snoozes contentedly on the rug beside my bed, my mind plays catch up with my new body shape, health and physical achievements. It is a strange but unbelievable feeling when the clock on my laptop tells me that I have exercised, soaked in a hot bath and devoured my first flask of milky coffee all before 9:00 am and all while most of the country was still asleep.
Thirst for Learning
That saying “you are never too old to learn” has never been more palpable in my life than during lockdown. It has been vital for my mental and emotional well-being to be constantly learning, evolving and growing. Fashion, makeup, fitness, social media, are all things that I am excited and passionate about. Discovering things about these topics fulfilment and makes me feel vibrant. Nothing is more disheartening than doing the same thing day in and day out or walking through the motions like a zombie or an android.
ASOS Ivory Design Pop Suit
Photo 1 taken 25.03.2020 - Photo 2 taken 30.12.2020
COVID resulting in lockdown meant that gyms were closed and/or by appointment only. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and like so many of you, I had to make alternative arrangements to ensure that I could exercise. I was so relieved back in June when my friend and I began fast walking 5:00 am three times a week, which lead to trotting and now something that looks like middle-aged jogging. So many began exercising at a gym, just got into the swing and the gyms were closed again. That is very disheartening. The gyms re-opened at the end of lockdown one and confident that I could safely go trotting/jogging on my own my trotting/jogging buddy returned to the NHS frontline and the gym.
Lockdown quickly brought home to me, excuse the pun, the importance of walking or exercising. I am not going to lie, it was an effort to put one foot in front of the other at the beginning but by the end, I would be inspired, feel exhilarated and my mind stimulated.
At 58 my body has changed again, my legs are slimmer, my hips are smaller, the muffin top has gone, my stomach muscles are tighter and just when I thought that the menopause had robbed me of all of that. I feel like I have myself back, and that is invaluable. An emotional release and clearing of my head occur whenever I work out. I no longer get the midday slump and have a lot of energy during the day.
I knew I had turned a corner when I no longer welcomed any excuse not to exercise or to go out jogging. Instead, I bought a rain mac, high viz jacket, a beanie to keep my head warm, gloves, oversized hoodie, anything that was going to help me to get out there, reduce stress, improve my posture, induce a good night’s sleep and continue this journey of wellbeing.
It is not getting out of bed in the dark and going out into the fog, cold or rain that is hard, on the contrary, it’s knowing that by the time I return home, run a hot bubble bath and enjoyed a flask of milky coffee leg stiffness or as I call it at my age “rigour” would have set in.
I am reassured by my GP that the fitter I get, the less lactic acid build-up and muscle soreness there will be.
Loungewear/Get up & Get Dresed
During the lockdown, I have stuck to my routine of getting up and getting dressed even though I am working from home. It was far too easy to jump on the “loungewear” trend and forget the feeling of structured clothes that I rely on to indicate when I am putting on or losing weight.
The working from home culture means there is an extensive choice of comfortable loungewear that meets both the comfortable and stylish criteria. If you have meetings, add a scarf or jewellery to elevate any outfit without much effort.
Update Benefits of Weight Loss
Do I need to express to you my excitement when aged 58 a mini skirt, trousers or dress fits you in such a way that you cannot see your “mummy tummy”? The day I put on an outfit or tucked in my top and my eyes are not immediately drawn to my stomach is a feeling I can’t explain other than to say it’s priceless.Those moments are what I hark back to whenever I am looking for an excuse not to get out of bed and exercise.
Sustained weight loss or inch loss means:
·When I put my hands on my hips I can feel my hip bone;
·No more discomfort when I twist to the side and fill up my weekly medicine tablet holder/dispenser;
I have newfound energy levels;
Trekking up and down the stairs is no longer seen as a chore, but as additional exercise;
I finally climbed a stepladder and changed all of the batteries in the smoke alarms and replaced any blown light bulbs;
No more huffing and puffing as I clean the bath and my stomach no longer touches it when I am bent over it;
No more struggles with the quilt and quilt cover when changing my bed;
The fit and comfort level of my clothes is off the charts;
Having to order two or three different sizes of the same item, try them on to see what size fits best and return the rest;
I no longer break a sweat when trying on clothes;
The routine of getting dressed and the creative aspect of shopping-my-wardrobe is challenging but keeps my mind stimulated;
The routine of creating new outfits and posting photographs is exciting and something I look forward to;
The waistline of my PJ‘s that could not go beyond the fold of my tummy now glides over that area and sits cosily beneath my bust; and
My stomach no longer inhibits me from applying polish to my toenails or giving myself a pedicure.
Shop your Home
Don’t just shop your wardrobe for clothes, shop your home for beauty products. I have unearthed expensive skin peals, vitamin C Serum, unfinished bottles of perfume, lipsticks forgotten about in handbags, I even found, dare I say it, half a bottle of Wray Nephews White rum in one evening bag and earrings I thought I had lost in another. Lockdown means I have time to:
Discover Dettol and other antibacterial cleaning products that due to COVID I cannot get for love nor money;
Read or listen to those audio books;
Clean my makeup brushes;
Untangle those layered necklaces;
Clean my costume jewellery;
Use those tee candles;
Make lists to replenish any personal items that may be running out;
Locate and use toiletries/gift sets that were gifted to me over the years;
Secure my Christmas grocery delivery slot early;
Make those longstanding minor alliterations that prevented me from wearing those items that I love to wear;
Replace the batteries for the remotes or some other gadget in the home;
Untangle the web of electric cords;
Comprehend that I will never, in my lifetime, use all the makeup pallets that I have and not to buy anymore; and
Use and recycle bottles of nearly empty hand-wash containers that I have hoarded and have stood upside down for months.
Midway through the first lockdown, I knew that when it was all over, I could not return to my default position e.g. long soaks in a hot bath by candlelight is no longer designated to the end of a hard long working day. To survive and not return to the default position, I would need to formulate and embrace a self-preservation programme. Take care of my mind and thoughts, my physical health and body, my emotions and my spiritual well-being.
Stylists on YouTube are always talking about investing in particular items that will last you a lifetime and where you are going to get the most use. The exercise, inch loss and regular grooming is essential personal body maintenance and time invested in me.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent, caring for myself is an act of survival” – Audre Lorde
If you have put yourself on the back burner or lockdown has left you feeling a little blah there is no better time to look fresher and more youthful. Lockdown means:
Time to really look in the mirror and not a cursory glance before you rush out the door;
Time to light scented candles and set the mood before a long soak in a hot bath; and
Time to moisturise yourself all over and permit your body to thank you with that unforgettable, gratifying tingling sensation;
Time to use those “must-have” skin peals and/or face masks that the celebs were endorsing and you convinced yourself that you could not live without; and
Time for grooming, be it a pedicure, nail polish, dyeing my hair, cleansing.
Sustained inch loss means that at the end of each month, I have a smaller body frame and, I literally feel like a new woman. Saturday mornings for me represents the end of six days exercising. After my early morning trot/jog and the groceries have been delivered, then it is my time to truly indulge. Light tea candles, soak in a hot bubble bath, massage pure coconut oil into every aching muscle of my body, slip into luxe clean loungewear and exhale.
Although it has been dark and rainy, there is always pleasurable anticipation attached to autumn. An indefinable air of energy about the promise it gives of showers and sunshine one day and bitterly cold the next. Lockdown forced me to “shop my wardrobe” which for me was even more exhilarating and mentally stimulating researching this seasons trends and pulling outfits together.
Reconnect with your style & wear what you love
I think that I am at a point in life when I probably understand more about my taste in fashion. I have had time to assess why, in the past, I would reach for loose tops. It was simple, they masked my stomach and hip area. The more weight I have lost in that area, the more conscious I became that I was reaching for form-fitting pieces.
As people we grow, we change, we evolve and, naturally, our style will change and grow with us.We have to have a fluid mindset so our ‘personal style’ is not set in stone but something that is going to evolve and change as we change. Some people get stuck into thinking that they have to fit into a specific box or style. Your wardrobe doesn’t just have to be ‘mature’, ‘structured’ or ‘edgy’. Your wardrobe doesn’t have to fit into one niche.
Everyone is a unique individual and your wardrobe should reflect your personality and lifestyle. When we start labelling ourselves or trying to fit into specific boxes, that is, when things seem to go awry! Take this unique opportunity to look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes. You can have a mix of classic - I can’t bear to part with and up to date pieces in your wardrobe, as long as they work together. 4
Pre-lockdown I never gave much thought about my purchases or where they came from.Up-cycling and shopping my wardrobe has completely changed my perspective. Revive those classic quality pieces that I could just not bring myself to part with. I have invested in wooden hangers specifically for trousers or skirts and velvet hangers to keep those silk or delicate items from slipping off or snagging.
It is far too easy to give up on fashion in the winter. The cold temperatures, rain and dark evenings, can leave you feeling uninspired and ready to compromise on style. Remember, if you look good, you are going to feel good. Spring & Autumn is when I go back through my high-end wish list and purchase those stand-alone winter accessories, for a fraction of the recommended retail price.
Buying Classic Winter Essentials in the Spring/Summer
Investing in basics or key pieces is achievable because retailers like H&M & ASOS give me quality at a comfortable price point. My ASOS or H&M on-line wish list are stockpiled with long scarves, tights or hats that cost a fortune in the autumn/winter months. I have purchased ASOS extra-long scarves for as little as £8 or H&M tights for £6. The advantage of hoarding items in your wish list is that when you check back in the summer months and if the items are still in stock, the price drop can be huge. On the last weekend of August, my phone sends me a reminder that new winter stock is due in and the price of items in my wish list might rise. That alarm means year on year, I always beat them to it.
Scarves are another winter essential. They not only keep your neck warm which means wearing fewer layers, no “Michelin man” feeling but that layer that can easily be removed every time you get on a train, or go into an office or shop. Silk scarves are warm and versatile (see below).
Tights are another accessory that is in high rotation and adds another extra layer of warmth without resorting to bulky thermals underneath your jeans. When wearing a skirt or short dress, the opaque tights seem to balance out better with heavier and chunkier knits.
Hats in my winter wardrobe are key. This may not be a ground-breaking essential but you need to wear a hat. I know nobody likes getting hat hair, but as we lose 40 to 50 per cent of our body heat through our head, just having your head covered can make a huge difference. I have a Fedora hat and a variety of cosy knit beanies that I got from ASOS that I have reached for on repeat in the last two months. They not only keep me warm but to finish off my look beautifully.
Sunglasses - Make like a celebrity pop on a pair of Sunglasses hide tired eyes, look cool and finish off a look. Even if sunglasses are an afterthought for you, sunglasses are arguably the one and only accessory that will take your outfit from zero to hero in an instant. Sunglasses are the self-confidence celebs grab alongside their keys before leaving the house. The perfect pair not only makes a statement but goes with everything. Make the mistake of leaving home without this timeless accessory, and you risk not showing off your outfit at its best. I have strategically updated my collection without the high-end price tag. Sunglasses like a little black dress have timeless appeal.
Gloves – I feel that gloves have become an overlooked fashion accessory over the past few decades and utilised for practicality rather than aesthetics. Statement gloves are making a resurgence and have become an essential winter accessory in my wardrobe following the feedback I received after posting this photo.
While it is so important to keep nice and warm, the aesthetics of wearing a scarf or gloves that match one element of your outerwear can really pull an outfit together.
Handbag - ASOS Design Tote Bag with Ring Detail £28 - A handbag that matches the robustness and weight of your winter outfits can make all the difference. The bag should not only be functional but deep enough to shove all of your accessories into but with easy access to your scarf, hat, gloves or umbrella as and when you need them. I wasn’t a fan of cross body bags until the swap your chain out for a more robust strap became a “thing”.
Turtle Neck – The classic lightweight turtle neck that fits close to your body is so useful for layering underneath chunky sweaters, cardigans or shirts. This is the fundamental layer that will keep you the warmest. There is a preconception that the chunky knit sweater that everyone is wearing is what you need to feel warm and cosy. While this is true, it is that first layer closest to your body that is going to trap the heat and keep it in. A lightweight turtle neck not only adds warmth but a nice layering dimension without too much bulk.
To be honest, lockdown has intensified my love affair with fashion and makeup. I have had time to reconnect with the way my wardrobe makes me look and feel. Resurrect and combine those pieces with an up to date piece. Jogger bottoms, faux leather, slip-overs or tank tops as they were known back in my day are back on-trend.
Cardigans - H&M have such beautiful cosy, elegant cardigans this season and such good quality. H&M White Sparkly-Button Fluffy Cardigan Size: XXL £24.99 - This H&M white cardigan feels so soft and is a dream to wear. The oversized sleeves and rhinestone buttons make the cardigan look really interesting. This is the kind of piece I don’t need to style up too much. This is one of those pieces that instantly elevates any basic and that I will be wearing on repeat. It will look amazing with jeans or matched with so many different trousers, like these faux leather joggers (details below). Because I have a big bust, it is always better to balance my proportions and wear V necks and to show a little bit of skin. This cardigan can be layered underneath an oversized coat for additional warmth.
FAUX LEATHER TROUSERS If you want style points without trying too hard, you have to try a pair of faux leather trousers. Trust me, there is a pair out there for every body shape. Once you find the right pair, you will never go back. The high waist of these slouchy straight jogger pants do emphasise my stomach (this photo posted on 28.10.2020) but, the fact that I am still losing weight (see the difference in photo above wearing knitted cream dress posted 15.12.2020) means I now reach for my faux leather trousers instead of my jeans. ASOS Design Black Leather Look Joggers Size: 22 £22.00.
Chunky Jumper – A chunky jumper is the perfect final layer to finish off a look. The classic crewneck or turtleneck in a neutral colour will integrate well into your wardrobe and, that go-to wardrobe staple you will be reaching for season after season. Details such as a deep cuff, the classic fisherman rib or pearls help to elevate a piece. The chunky jumper is interchangeable and can be layered over something elegant and timeless like a pleated skirt, tailored trousers or cami dress.
Sweater Vests - The slipover, sweater vest trend has made it to the runways of Gucci, Prada, and Dior. The granddad-inspired sweater vest or “tank top” as it was known back in my day has had a resurgence and is now the hottest fashion trend of 2020.
Sweater vests have proven to be an invaluable layering addition for transitioning between autumn and winter. Nostalgia meant that aged 58 in November when the weather was warmer than expected, I wore my slipover on its own and gave the ‘preppy tennis skirt’ look a go. H&M White Rib-knit Slipover Size: XXL £17.99. If you are not quite ready to commit to a coat, layer your sweater vest over a crisp white shirt top with voluminous sleeves or a dress to add warmth. ASOS Design Curve Black Pleated Mini Skirt Size: 28 £14.00.
First things first, let me dispense with the antiquated dictates surrounding what plus size women can and cannot wear. Don’t wear bright colours, don’t wear stripes, don’t wear loud prints and definitely, don’t ever wear white. There is one fashion rule to follow in life “wear whatever makes you happy.” When I put on this ASOS Skylar Rose Cream Plus Kitted Midaxi Dress Size: 22 £52 – with its striking silhouette and looked in the mirror I said: “Ooh la girl you are too glam to give a damn”. This dress sold out within an hour. Thank goodness I did not drop it into my wish list and forget about it!! When it comes to comfort, you cannot beat a knitted dress with long sleeves. Now if there is one item that I will be reaching for on repeat into the new season, this stylish knit is it.
Shacket - If you want to own a piece that suits every body shape, is an easy way to look on-trend and the perfect layering piece as we transition through autumn-winter and spring, then ladies, it’s time to welcome the shacket to your wardrobe. A shacket is an oversized shirt-jacket hybrid that is dominating social media right now. The wool blend makes them thicker than a shirt but thinner than your heavy winter coat so you can easily layer them over a turtleneck as I did in this photo. This post “There is no Age Bracket on this Shacket besides feeling too glam to give a damn” proved very popular across my social media pages. The shacket exudes a seriously cool fashion look buttoned up as a shirt and effortlessly stylish undone as a jacket.
Coat - A beautiful warm coat is another winter essential because most of what people see of us during the winter months is what we wear on the outside. Years of searching for a neutral coloured coat came to an end when I discovered this Cream Calf-Length Coat Size: XXL £59.99 at H&M. It doesn’t crease easily, it has a slightly relaxed fit which makes it great for layering and a lovely colour to go over any neutral colour palette. Whether it is double or single-breasted, I always opt for a classic cut. I love the streamlined look on my body shape with simple, classic lapel detailing.
I don’t like the belted coats on me. Not only do they look like a dressing gown but emphasise my stomach and hip area. This cream coat is very streamlined. I love the minimalist finishing touches that it will go with everything. This coat is not only timeless and will last me forever but has a sophistication that will pull every outfit together. I cannot believe what a great find these coats were at an affordable price point. ASOS Check Junarose Double Button Coat – Size: XXL £40 (RRP £100)
Trainers - At my age comfort is imperative and some women feel that over a certain age you shouldn’t be wearing trainers but, I have found that as a footwear option, styled properly trainers look really trendy and chic! Trainers are not only comfortable footwear that you can walk around in all day but can make a smartly tailored outfit look bang on trend and yet more relaxed.
Boots - There’s no denying that the practical, comfortable and stylish ankle boot is not only the biggest, 2020 trend of all boots but the easiest to style with everything in your wardrobe. The ankle boot is perfect with jeans, dresses or skirts and guaranteed to get a lot of wear out of them. In terms of my own personal style and ticking the on-trend box, the ankle boot is my go-to footwear option of 2020. So if like me, you are not utilising your ankle boots to their full potential, join me to experience just how versatile they can be.
Back in 2019, the classic Chelsea ankle boot was all I owned until I added these flat black ankle boots with gold buckle, zip and studding detail to my boot collection.
JD Williams Black Tawny Buckle Biker Boot Size: 9 Extra Wide EEE Fit £26.80 (RRP £33.50). On my 58th birthday in March of this year, I took on the biker trend in style and wore them with this gold dress from H&M and my faux leather biker jacket.
Once again Bottega Veneta is responsible for me adding this particular square toe ankle boot to my collection. ASOS DESIGN Black Wide Fit Rylee Square Toe Lace up Boots Size: 9 £35.00
For me, it boils down to having options. For many years following DVT in the right foot, slippers or flats were the only things I could wear that would not cause me pain as a limped along. As a woman, I want to wear heels, I want to feel sexy, elevated, lifted - I want to feel like me.
There are countless ankle boots on the market, and each will add something different to your outfit. Don’t be afraid to try something different, ankle boots can make a pair of sweatpants look surprisingly stylish. Rocking your ankle boots with a dress or skirt can make a fantastic option for sophisticated day looks and casual evenings out.
When going for a relaxed or edgy aesthetic, I choose a flat ankle boot. Alternatively, when aiming for an ensemble that’s chic and elegant, my stiletto sock boots work best.
ASOS Design Wide Fit Elliot Western Boots in Black Croc Size: 9 £17.30 (RRP £35) Experimenting with ankle boots has meant that the sky is literally the limit. I am no longer restricted to wearing the classic knee-high boot under my skirts or ankle boots and jeans my only go-to combination.
It is Saturday 2nd January 2021, the festivities have come to an end, many areas of the UK are in “Tier 5” lockdown and the working week of 2021 looms near! In the snug of my bedroom where order now reigns, where chaos and stress have no place, I am perched on the edge of my bed, my skin still warm from the heat of the bathwater, insulated by the fleece of my pyjamas, my feet cosy in a foot warmer and eager to complete this New Year's blog.
Many of us may struggle to start the working week of 2021. In the past, my lifestyle, location and family conformed to the demands of my job. Since lockdown, I realised that I had to make my occupation support my way of life and not dominate it. Why? Because it’s OK and necessary to analyse, evaluate and to make changes. To “work to live” and not “live to work”. Not to be consumed by schedules or the need to check my phone for emails. To not always be busy or rushing from one thing to the next and most importantly, never again to underestimate the dangers of stress.
Time is more precious than ever. It is time for me to explore, to reconnect, to make time for the “little things”. To light and enjoy the smell of a candle, to turn off the TV and simply listen to an audiobook where the hero kisses the hand of the heroin just before a dance or where his fingers held hers just a little more tightly than was proper or to call/FaceTime family and friends. You see, the “little things” turned out NOT TO BE SO LITTLE after all!
Until the next time, remember that YOU YOURSELF, as much as anybody in the world, DESERVES YOUR LOVE AND AFFECTION - this is your time, use it well. X