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Friday, November 21, 2014

French Girl Friday....Let's Get Real

La Nourriture Authentique, Real Food, is the subject of chapter 6 in The French Twist by author Carol Cottrill. It is an information packed chapter, going into the pros of eating real food. It breaks down what goes into artificial and convenience foods that many of us, as Americans, tend to rely on. I am guilty. Very guilty. I have no real good excuses. If I were to site some, I would fall back onto the basics I tell myself, my husband works unpredictable hours, my health issues make it hard to want to stand and cook when I am hungry,  it is hard to get the fiber in the amount that I need just eating real foods, to stay within the calories I seem to be able to consume and still maintain it is easier to eat pre-packaged. The list could go on and on.  I know that many of these foods are not good for me, that real food is always better. I know that I have gotten lazy, I know that I should buy real butter and not " I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"..even if I do buy the light version .... I tell myself I can have a bit more, and it is spreadable, strait from the fridge, important to a toast junky like myself. I know that eating these faux foods often can stall weight loss or even cause weight gain, but yet as I said, I am still guilty. 

I love being able to pop a pizza into the oven and though I like making my own spaghetti sauce, opening a jar is so much quicker, that fiber breakfast cookie I grab on the go ( French non-no the whole eat on the go thing), so easy when leaving for my walks.  I have tried made strides to go real in other areas to get healthy and to eat  I have given up white bread ( most days) , looking for healthy versions, I switched from artificial sweeteners and started using Stevia, in my coffee, I take real cream and skip the creamer, when I am feeling up to it I make homemade macaroni and cheese instead of the boxed kind. I even have switched to an all natural nut bar with all real ingredients as part of my way to get fiber in.  I in my heart and down deep know I should make more of an effort, and I would probably enjoy food much more, cause let's face it, the "fake" stuff is really not nearly as good or good for us as real food. That is part of the point(s) of the chapters point driven home by the author with her supporting information of what goes into all these artificial foods, and what they do to our bodies, and not just how they may effect our weight loss and maintaining our desired weight, but how they may effect our over all health. It really makes you stop and think before you eat. 

The French have a different mind set, now given they do eat at Mc Donalds, as was mentioned in an earlier post, but more times than not, they buy food fresh daily, cooking with food they have bought close to the source and as fresh as possible. " In France and throughout Europe, food is plucked ripe from the vine, the river or the farmyard and it arrives on a local plate within the day...." (The French Twist) It is an event, each meal, food is savored, and enjoyed and quality is very important. Many of us do not have this convenience, and sadly the time.  It is not that Farmer's Markets are not now popping up all over the country, as an example, I live in an area where nearly on every given day there is one open, and we even have an inside Farmer's market as well as a year round farm stand. My area is the leading Farm to Table movements. We live in a Farm rich state, it is pretty easy to buy local and buy fresh, it is about making the time, the effort to seek the real food out. It comes down to time, at times money and a lot of the time laziness. I have to wonder if I had made more of an effort to eat real, and do the work ( which for the French is not work, but pleasure, so a mind set??) would my health issues be a non issue. I am not sure I can reverse my health issues, but perhaps, if I get more real, with myself and my food, and become a little more French in my thoughts and my efforts, I can keep it from getting worse. I know that it is not realistic to say that I am going to change my ways or what I eat overnight, we can not afford to throw out previously bought foods and what we just purchased that sits in our pantry, freezer and refrigerator, but by taking baby steps, perhaps over time, I can get a little more real. How about you? Do you need to get a little more, or a lot more real...with what you put into your body that is. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Road So Far. Seven Steps to Style Saturday P.1

Recently I shared with you all that I had done an online style program and the private FB group "Evolve Your Style". The program, developed by personal stylist Imogen Lamport , available through her blog Inside Out Style ( you can read all about it HERE ), walks you through basic challenges to help you determine your own personal style, what works and what does not, with feed back from Imogen and the members of the group. I learned quite a bit, and was even featured on Imogen's Stylish Thoughts blog posts. While going through the challenges, and indeed getting quite a bit of feed back, all very positive, uplifting, even when critical with a critique, I learned so much about myself, and how and why I dress the way I have and have been doing, it was truly eye opening. I even RE discovered a few things about myself and my style that I had put on a back shelf due to so many reasons, that I am not sure I even realized. While on the group I learned about, by word of mouth that Imogen's other, more intense/ in depth, more personalized program "Seven Steps To Style" was something that might be worthwhile to take if I truly wanted to learn more about what I should and should not be wearing. Given the chance to try it out and review it, I jumped at the opportunity. 

via the Inside Out Style Blog

The price of the program comes with access to PDFs for each of the seven steps, in depth study guides, as well as personal guidance and support from Imogen herself within the closed to the public FB group of the same name. I did it backwards, but if you buy the Seven Steps program, you also gain access into the Evolve Your Style program and group... a real bonus in my book! The Seven Steps program begins with delving into your personality, figuring out who you, why you are here, how did you get here fashion wise, followed by "take actions", sort of style homework if you will. Then it walks you through style words that relate back to your personality, and with each page going more and more in dept into what and who you are style wise, so that you end up with a pretty good idea of your own personal style. Step two, "Your Body" , takes you through a very important step, now that you know your personality style wise, you have to know how to dress for it. There is a lot of information, photos to be taken, and even measurements to be done to figure out this very important step, it can be very eye opening, and might even surprise you when doing it, in a good way. Knowing what body type, shape etc that you are, determining your facial shape, bone structure, working from the tip top of your head down, it is all broken down to precise steps and helps the reader figure out what will work and not work with who they are physically. This is so important, you can have beautiful clothing, but if it does not work on your body it will not make you look beautiful when wearing them.

Step three, delves into your colors, Included in the cost is two sets of color cards, that will be sent to you. These, once you take your photos with the first set of four cards that are sent, and post to the FB page, and then again with a second set of cards that are more fine tuned, Imogen helps determine what colors work best with not only your skin, your hair, your eyes, but also your contrast levels, this gives you the right colors in which to base future clothing choices on. There is a more complete "swatch" of colors you can purchase over and above that then give you so many colors in which to choose from when you are out shopping and make it so that you only have clothing in the colors that work with you in your wardrobe. Step four, where I am at so far, is titled " Your Lifestyle" , a very important factor into determining what you buy, and what your style is. One has to have a wardrobe that matches lifestyle. You can not dress properly, let's say, for a walk or to run errands if your entire wardrobe is filled with nothing but party clothing, when in fact you never have the need for the latter. When that happens, you end up with a closet of clothing that you never wear. It is not uncommon to open my closet and say " I have nothing to wear", even with it being filled to the brim, I have a lot of "dress up" clothing, and my life just does not dictate dressing up as it once did. 

The last three steps, "wardrobe, style and values" complete the program. I am working on those steps next... and am very excited to see what they include and can teach me. I like to go back over what I have learned, so  I print each out, and keep them in a binder, very helpful, with all except step 2 as I do not have a color printer, so have to view that step on my computer and then do the worksheets in my binder. Between the group, the feed back and personal guidance and confirmation that I receive there and the binder full of my printed out steps that make it easy to take notes, and re-read the information as much as I want, I feel that I am, as I did with the Evolve program, able to really know who I am now, style wise and armed with the information, some new to me, some confirming what I knew already, or thought I did, and can now hopefully begin to have both a style and a wardrobe that really works. Now you have read my words, here is Imogen telling you in her own words. 

Visit and Explore the blog, as well as the programs, not to mention all the wonderful information provided through blog posts and videos at these links

Friday, November 14, 2014

L' Equilbre ....Balance

"Everything in Moderation, including moderation" ~ Julia Child

Chapter five... Cinq, of The French Twist by author Carol Cottrillis all about finding balance. It being a book about the "twelve secrets of decadent dining and natural weight management", to be expected the pages within the chapter are filled with stories where people have not found balance withing their eating habits, as well as portions from a couple of French bloggers who discuss finding balance within their own diets and lifestyles. In reading through the chapter, I was seeing myself. How many diets have I tried. How many failures. Giving up carbs or cutting back on fat, sugar, high protein, nearly none at all. Never a long lasting result, if any, and a very unhappy body, mind and soul. During the time I was battling what my doctors still deem a mysterious bladder ailment, I gave up nearly all sugar, cut back on dairy, stopped all caffeine, and wine as well as dark chocolate. I will admit it helped, but I was very unhappy when my husband would pour the nightly glass of wine, and grab his bite or two of chocolate to enjoy while watching television. I felt deprived. It was not a good feeling. After a long while, over a year, I slowly started to reintroduce the foods and beverages I had stopped having and so far so good... though my body does tell me if I have had too much and is out of balance. Like the quote above it is about moderation, but even then you need days of indulgence, you must find the balance in your eating habits, in life really. Too much of a good thing, and not enough of a good thing is no way to live, it certainly is no way to have those perfect pair of pants still fit! 

 Indulgences .... A silk scarf, in the perfect blues, an amazing hand
bag.... the mix of light to dark blues, a balancing act, moderated by the pop of black.
One must find balance in how they live life, just like one might balance
 out the color indulgence in an outfit that could easily be just a tad too much. 

As has been my way while going through the first four chapters, I have applied what I am reading or have read to how it fits into my life, in all areas, not just how I eat and I reflect about I have adjusted both to that information. Last week it was pleasure. I truly had plenty of that. I shared how I had a cancer scare and had gone through some tests, and then after had gone out to eat and have some shop therapy, both pleasurable. I did not stop with that day. Last Saturday, we as a family went out for the day to celebrate our two youngest daughters birthdays which are three days apart. We started the day at a lovely restaurant, where I devoured, yes devoured, my clam chowder and enjoyed fresh baked bread, so much following what the author had suggested, slowing down and savoring. Then it was wine tasting, and I never did pour out, and it added up, followed at the end of the day with a fine French meal, complete with a sparkling Cuvee and desert. That might have been alright, but then Sunday we went ahead and had our weekly bagel, and I had half and half in my coffee. I had already had a doughnut earlier in the week, as well as a very indulgent breakfast at my favorite French themed restaurant. It was a bad week, though tasty week of pleasure. In between I was trying to behave, and not "diet" at the same time. I did not record my food, and I went on my normal walks, then came this past Wednesday and yet another day of pleasure, breakfast out, then  more wine tasting, a drive through the country, our annual treat of fresh, made to order apple cider doughnuts. I knew when I woke up yesterday morning I was out of balance, my whole body felt out of whack and stepping on the scale for the first time in a few days was not a fun experience. I had taken the pleasures a bit too far. I had not found as much moderation in my diet as I had intended. 

Pumpkin Gnocci, apples, cranberries, walnuts and brown butter... quite the pleasure to eat, rich,
indulgent flavors of the season, fine if you stop with just this one dish, but if it leads to more and more, soon you will find yourself out of balance. 
A yearly treat of hot apple cider doughnuts...
perhaps one instead of three might have been
a good way to eat them in moderation. 

Imagine my surprise once again, when I opened to chapter five today and saw the subject matter was that of balance. Like a strong reminder of what I had done wrong the past week, I had given up on moderation, had lost my balance, and my weight and what my daughters call a "food baby" were there to show that to me. I know that I do not wish to be on a diet, I wish to enjoy life and food, but still fit in my pants. I read on. Sipping on my tea and snacking on my carefully measured out almonds, I reached the before mentioned bloggers that the author quotes and what they had to say about maintaining balance in their eating habits. They both speak of eating what they want, but in moderation... there is that word again. Something I need to learn to implement into my life. They speak of restrain, goodness, this is going to be harder than I thought, I have always been an all or nothing girl, like my wardrobe that is black and white ( for the most part), I live life that is all black or white, either I am over indulging, or I give it all up. I pour over the passages and read and re-read them two or three times each.  " Most of us will allow ourselves a splurge from time to time, but not every day, and we'll try to compensate by eating less the next day and exercising regularly" states Clotilde Dusoulier, a Parisian who writes a blog by the name of Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen . I had my answer, and it was what I had been doing right up until this past week, I had even managed during my vacation to do this, so what was the game changer this past week, almost two? STRESS! 

The author, Carol Cottrill, goes in depth about the subject, within the pages of chapter five. I have been so very stressed what with not feeling well, the cancer scare, the tests, waiting for confirmation from the doctor, but still not having the answers to what is wrong with me. I have been battling a cold, more aches and pains, the sudden onset of inflammatory arthritis in my shoulder and neck then add in two of my daughters having birthdays ( I deal far better with my own aging than theirs) , and the prospect of jury duty in December ( that is a whole other set of stress issues I will not go into here) and there you have it. I have been eating out of stress "....the rubber meets the road at the intersection of stress and emotional eating. When you're stressed, you may find dieting difficult...." The French Twist. Gee.... I knew this, but I think in the fog that stress can create I put it out of my mind and had a free for all with food. I do believe the universe is sending me a cosmic message, a reason why I only read the chapters in the book the day I am to post, so it is high time I pay attention to it. So the goal for the coming week is not to not have the foods I desire, it is not to become more stressed over each and every bite, but it is like the author states, eat what I want in moderation, draw upon the previous chapters, and slow down and take pleasure in my food, as well as my day to day life, and find L' Equilibre .... BALANCE. 

Putting a little French into my life...
Style wise that is.