Tuesday, 29 January 2013

January Jitters

January is such a miserable month and thankfully it is almost at an end.. It would be quite easy to be down in the dumps until you realize that at least you don’t have to struggle to work and you can do what you want to do without asking permission!  You are retired!
Although the month is grim organizing yourself into productive frame of mind provides some solace. When I was busy coaching people we would often examine some of the reasons for feeling negative.  Sometimes sadly life changing events play a significant part in negative outlook but there may be other compelling reasons as to why individuals feel the way they do. In retirement I would argue that you have more license to bring about a change for the better.  Maybe it means you don’t tolerate things as much as you would have done in the past!

Here are some thoughts /actions which may resonate with you….

Take control
In an earlier post I mentioned the importance of a framework?  Mapping out the things you want to do in the months ahead may help in actually getting them to happen.  Book your holidays and make diary entries for your interests, family and friends. This helps to make you feel in control and that you are doing the things you want to do.  You make things happen rather than things happen to you. Your agenda is important.

Set objectives
This is starting to sound like management speak.  However when you have tasks or interests you wish to pursue applying the same work principles will help to make sure they get done!   Here is one of the tools of the trade. I know former colleagues will groan when I mention  “SMART “ which stands for
Specific, Measureable,  Attainable/Achievable , Realistic and Time bound. If you are not familiar with this  - - just google SMART – there are many articles which ill explain in detail how you can turn vague aspirations into something more concrete.  You can demonstrate what success looks like and know when you have achieved what you set out to do!
Surround yourself with positive people
Wherever possible seek out and nurture relationships with people who have a positive outlook on life - bound to give you a lift! The energy form these people is so motivating and infectious!

Distance yourself from negative people
By negative people here I don’t mean those who have occasional lapses – I mean the people who energetically look for the downsides.  Their conversations are littered with “buts”. We talk about the “glass is half empty” people – those who never seem to be happy or indeed want to be.  They will make you feel miserable!

Avoid the nasties!
As we get older we realize that there are people are not very nice and may be hostile to you.  Sometimes we can avoid them completely but sometimes all we can do is to limit contact. It’s a general realization that whatever you do it won’t turn the situation around.
Let me give you an example.  I have a friend and a former colleague who I will call Sarah to save her blushes. Sarah is very kind and generous and loves working with people and is very popular. She had a great deal of interaction at work with a woman who she felt she must have offended at some time as the woman was stoney faced and didn’t engage in conversation unless it was absolutely necessary.  Sarah said that she was going to address this as she felt it was an issue.  I had distinct reservations about this. Sarah went to see her and quite openly said that she felt maybe they had got off on the wrong foot and was there anything Sarah had done which might have caused upset. The woman responded quite bluntly saying  “no I just don’t like you”.  Sarah returned devastated and it took a long time to understand that the fault was not with her but with someone who was rude and had few social skills and for whatever reason for the dislike – was it worth exploring? Save your energy for the “goodies”. Thankfully these instances are rare!

Learn to say “no”
This is something I truly have had to work on over the years.  Part of my job was to encourage assertiveness and engender confidence only to find myself falling into the trap of agreeing to do things I really didn’t want to do out of politeness and not wishing to offend. So it has been a case of “physician heal thyself”. It is so empowering to use the word “no”. Practice saying it! Who wants to be a doormat?

Give yourself a pat on the back – just look at what you have achieved in your life and build on this – you have come a long way!
Onwards and upwards!! Happy days J

Monday, 21 January 2013

Fashion Passion!

Christmas Fashion 1970

I always look forward to the doorbell ringing as its probably DHL or one of the other deliverers bringing me my online clothes shopping order.   Although I am delighted with the arrivals I do realize that I do have to have a sense of proportion and not to let my purchases get out of control.  I have always loved fashion with a passion particularly when I was modeling for Lucie Clayton in my early years and I also I had the influence of an elegant mother who had a great sense of style. So part nurture and nature!

Modelling one of my favourites 1969

As we get older we are much more realistic and we can appreciate the good parts about our figures and also the bits we want to disguise.  This helps in identifying the designers and brands which match our preferences.
Never has there been so much choice in affordable clothing .Whether your funds are limited to economic supermarket fashion or to the high end designers there is something for everyone. What is very important is finding your own style which suits you.  If you aren’t sure about your look then call on friends and family who you can trust to give an honest opinion. 

I hear people talking about being "age appropriate" – which is a derogatory reference to “women of a certain age “ and the inference of “mutton dressed as lamb”.  Who defines what is suitable for your age? I have seen young women in young fashion  which has been a total disaster so if we are going to have rules ...................

here are my suggestions...........

1.     Identify what suits your size, figure and shape.
2.     Discard wardrobe items which don’t match with your criteria
3.     Definitely move along items you haven’t worn for the past 2 years
4.     Make sure your wardrobe is “current” and moving with the times otherwise you will look as if you are in a time warp and it is very aging
5.     Make sure clothes are occasion appropriate
6.     Question whether your choice matches your personality and  says who you are
7.     Try not to buy the same safe colours (I am guilty of this)  and experiment
8.     Develop a “capsule” wardrobe particularly if money is a problem so that you can mix and match a few related items and have a flexible and creative combination of looks
9.     Have a range of accessories which enhance your look
10. Don’t fall into the trap of wearing a uniform! If someone told you on leaving your school uniform behind that it was going to be replaced by another…………..jeans, tee shirt, fleece, leggings, tracksuits……….you would protest. Of course there are times when this apparel fits the bill but if it becomes the norm then it is ………..a uniform!

People often complain about being "invisible" as they get older - if this is the way you feel maybe you can do something about it!!  Starting with your wardrobe?

Here's someone who is starting a little early in the fashion stakes!

Grandaughter Mair (3) in my Marc Jacobs sunglasses
and Louboutins !!
(Courtesy www.BenCurwenPhotography.com)

Here are some of my favourite sites……….

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Squeezed Middle

"If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!"
   George Burns

In addition to the gym I have derived considerable benefit from attending Pilates classes.  I revisited Pilates about a year ago after a long break.  I was a little worried about how I would cope with the sessions after such a long time and also I am now much older - how would my body respond? My concerns were groundless .  It did however take me a while to attain the level I remembered but with the help and support of the instructors I found my confidence grew as little by little I made progress.

For those of you who have not taken part in this form of exercise

“Pilates is a body conditioning routine that may help build flexibility,muscle strength, and endurance in the  legs,abdominal, arms,hipsand back . It puts emphasis on spina land pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or center, and improving coordination and balance. Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginning to advanced. Intensity can be increased over time as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.“ 

Pilates was described to me by an instructor who said to think of yourself as a tree which needs a strong trunk to provide support to its branches. It did go through my mind that I hoped my trunk wasn’t too thick!
We hear so much about developing your “core”  (your trunk!) and I have found Pilates addresses this need.  My posture, balance and core strength have improved significantly and additionally I am much more toned. 
I aim to take part in at least 2 sessions a week.  Attendees in my classes are all shapes and sizes and ages. The instructor always checks for any injuries or problems so that they can take account of these in the session to ensure you do not aggravate the conditions further. 
There is sometimes a little voice in my head which doubts my ability but this is overcome by being involved in a group – we are all very supportive of each other and for the more competitive ones (like me) don’t want to be the one to fail. I am pleasantly surprised how flexible I am now and the exercises I can do with relative ease. 
Any other converts out there?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Lean, mean, the retirement dream?

There appears to be a well held mantra that sometime after you hit 40, and certainly for each decade that comes subsequently staying in shape becomes increasingly close to impossible.  I've certainly heard people say it, and often with much conviction and almost always when discussing their current weight and fitness.  As I am now in my retirement years, and no doubt been guilty of perpetrating this well known 'fact', a niggling voice has got me asking questions.  How true is it really?  

Whilst there certainly appears from various studies that the body doesn't continue to work with the heady mix of hormones and lean tissue that it might have done in our youth, it does appear that we may be largely discounting the effect that our lifestyles change as we get older, and the effect that has on our bodies, and also our minds.  As we progress into our 30s it is fair to say our pace of life often slows a little.  The days of staying up until the early hours in nightclubs, etc become ones of social dinners with friends, drinks, and starting families.  Balancing work, friends, children, drinks (spilling is just wasteful), and ticking items on the bucket list tend to leave precious little personal time.  Regular exercise, and healthy eating are often put on a backburner, if not flammbe'd altogether.  After spending years being relatively inactive, do people suddenly become active again?  Some, but its probably fair to say that these are the exception.

Personally when I cast my mind back this starts to ring far more true than I'd like.  Certainly when I was younger I was very slender, and in fact did some modelling.  As far as I recall it, and at the risk of alienating readership it wasn't actually that hard for me to keep in that shape at the time.  However as I've got older, it feels more like a hard fought battle against the waistline creep.  I'm in reasonably good shape now, but it does fluctuate far more than I'd like and there is always room for improvement.  Its also fair to say I've tried more than a handful of diets from the restrictive to the outright ridiculous, and other than some temporary benefits, none have offered the 'answer'.  Perhaps it is indeed just that - there isn't a single answer but rather a realisation of what the current status quo is. Not enough activity.

In some respects this sounds bordering on the obvious, and I guess it should be.  So if the issue isn't one of agreeing that staying active is important, what is stopping us from reaching our fat-loss goals?  People often have misgivings about using a gym but it still remains one of the most effective places to do productive exercise.  We're awake for upwards of 100hours a week, so spending a few hours of that on quality exercise seems worth it if we to are both to look good in our retirement, and more importantly stay healthy.  So on this topic I'd like to end these few thoughts on striving to be as svelte as possible in my 60s by mentioning a gentleman by the name of Dr Berardi at Precision Nutrition.   Here are a couple of links to his entirely free 5 day fat-loss videos that are thankfully short and refreshingly to the point.  The little goatee I believe is optional ;)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Exercise - no excuses!!!

Just about every morning we switch on Sky News and hear about the benefits of exercise particularly as you get older.  We all know the benefits but doing something about it is another thing. Like most people I have to psyche myself up to doing it. Some of my friends go for regular brisk walks others swim.  Neither appeal to me as either too much weather or too much water.  So the gym is my thing.  I belong to small a gym in my local hotel - Sopwell House near St Albans which attracts a healthy core membership of like minded people. All shapes and sizes are there and levels of ability - so no need to feel self conscious.

I now concentrate on using the crosstrainer and low level bike as I was advised that they are kinder for my wonky left knee.  I go 5/6 times a week and spend about an hour a time. I try to go first thing in a morning when my energy levels are high and then I also have the rest of the day to do other things.  Okay this may be too much for a lot of people but it suits me and I think I actually enjoy it!!  My husband reluctantly comes along with me 2/3 times a week - even he has said how he does feel much better - more energy and of course helps with weight.

Just got back from a session and now time for a nice cup of tea.....more tomorrow!

Stop press!  lots of people just passing our home on an organised brisk walk - each to their own :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

My Framework

When I was running my business I worked from home.   I very quickly realized that I needed a framework which would provide me with a  discipline and routine to make sure I actually achieved something.  From this experience I realized that to have a happy retirement I still needed a framework although different.  I really needed to have a new routine which would give me a feeling of structure and of being in control.

January is of course an ideal time for putting the years key events in the diary - holidays, visits, key celebrations, dental checkups, hair appointments .  I also diary gym sessions, my Pilates classes, painting time and also have entries for all my other interests I have in my profile.  

None of this is set in stone but it helps to make things actually happen.  Feel much better now this is done!  Says a lot about me !

I use an electronic diary and also have a paper diary – goodness knows why…….my son’s girlfriend tells me it’s a girl thing – anyway it’s a very nice looking Smythson diary :)