Back to the Basics

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Plan Ahead and Enjoy

People may consider me a foodie and a critic but that’s far from the truth. I haven't attended culinary school or traveled the world seeking new food experiences. I’m neither a dietician nor a nutritionist, and am not certified to provide medical advice or meal plans. I’m simply a woman who enjoys good food. But... (yes, there is always a but) I also know we must enjoy food with balance and moderation while paying attention to what (and how much) we eat. I have been eating healthy since birth, without knowing it. I grew up in Guyana, South America, where our diet consisted of nutrient-rich, clean foods freshly made with vegetables and produce, meats, fish and dairy. So I know from experience, eating healthy does not have to be boring or daunting. 

Eating and truly enjoying food is not a crime, as much as many fad diets and cleanses would have you believe. It's true that food is necessary for survival, but it is also an experience to be savored and not condemned. Allow yourself to enjoy life and taste how amazing properly fueling your body can be. The key points to enjoying food (including dessert!) is to pay attention to the ingredients. Stay away from artificial ingredients and preservatives as much as you can.  

There is a simple method for easy cooking and it starts with planning. On Thursday nights I plan my meals for the upcoming week meals because I do my grocery shopping on Fridays. The strategy is to spend a little time planning, then shop for the items you need to make the meals. The outcome of this method is sure to save you TIME and money and last minute hassle of deciding what to eat.

Here’s an example of one of my weekly meal plans. These meals can be used for lunch or dinner and are very simple to make.  

  • Ground turkey lasagna with spinach, mushrooms and grated carrots
  • Oven roasted chicken with wild rice/ vegetables/ baked sweet potatoes
  • Baked salmon
  • Stir-fried eggplant with chicken or shrimp
  • Sauteed kale/spinach/green beans/butternut squash, cooked with shrimp/beef/chicken
  • Vegetable fried rice or lo mein with a side of mixed green salad 

There is nothing wrong with the occasional cheeseburger or other fast food. We (myself included) all have moments when life is just too busy to prepare meals and get them to the table.  But with some planning, you can create a new habit and be on your way to making delicious and healthy home-cooked meals. Avoiding the drive-through and take-out counter saves you time, money, and unhealthy calories!



Find Your Style

Truthfully, I don't like do's and don'ts of what to wear and what not to wear, but some basic rules do provide guidance and structure to help us look great. Of course you can dress any way you like. But if you don’t want to look like a wanna-be teenager, or the opposite problem, end up looking older than you really are, you might appreciate some ideas about how to dress after the age of 40. Here are some of the style guidelines I try to follow (yes, I am over 40 and proud of it).

One disclaimer: These guidelines certainly don’t apply to everyone. Know your own style! Nothing is more important than dressing in a way that pleases and represents you. If you know your personal style and understand your body, you can break any of the rules or add items from the "don’t list" as you please. 

Determine the wardrobe essentials that are unique to your style. Add more lasting high quality items in your wardrobe. These vary for each style personality, but some important classics are:

  • A white button down shirt.
  • A long coat (could be a trench coat, winter coat of beautiful color).
  • A beautiful dress that fits you perfectly. Don’t automatically go for a little black dress. Many women over 40 will actually look better (and slimmer) in a colorful dress.
  • Well-fitted trousers.
  • A well fitted blazer.
  • A good pair of dark denim jeans that fit you well. Boot cut or straight leg is usually the most flattering. 

Mix and match designer items with non-designer ones.

Take a good critical look at yourself before you go out and see if you look too overdone. The aim is to look effortlessly chic, so just evaluate — and if necessary, add something a bit more casual.

Keep current with fashion trends and make sure you have a few current items in your wardrobe. One word of caution: pick only those trends that work for you! To get ideas, you can search the internet, browse catalogs, or visit boutiques. Even if you can't afford to buy from all of these, you can learn what is trending for the upcoming season.

Wear skirts just above the knee, which is the best length for women over 40. Petite women (like myself) may want to go a bit shorter, but too-short styles are usually not flattering and can make the overall look older. You will look the sexiest and most chic if your skirt is not too full or too long.

Have fun with accessories like belts, jewelry and hats. They can make a real difference to your outfit.

Pay attention to your shoes. Stylish footwear can add an instant young, hip vibe to your outfits. Be careful, however, to choose shoes that you are able to walk in! 

Try not to match too much or look too polished. It’s nice to mix things up and be a bit more playful. Instead of wearing a matching pantsuit, try wearing the jacket with another skirt or pants and look effortlessly chic.

Avoid buying fabrics that are too cheap as they are usually not flattering and don't hold up well. It’s best to buy only the clothes that you love, make you look great, and will be a lasting part of your wardrobe.

I am not fond of these:

  • Really short shorts
  • Mini-dresses (but you can wear them with leggings)
  • Mom jeans
  • Severely ripped jeans
  • Baggy jeans 
  • Unfitted blazers
  • Baggy sweats
  • Too-long skirts (although when balanced well, they can still look good)


Communication Tips

I am known as the "glue stick" of my family. I suppose I earn this title because I try to be a good listener, open-minded, and patient. I have learned that when we take time to communicate properly, we can avoid many unpleasant situations. I keep the peace and harmony in my family by practicing what I preach.

The old adage, “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” holds a lot of truth. While some may consider the lines of communication open in their family, they tolerate yelling, arguments and one-sided conversations. Good communication means speaking and listening, not shouting demands or threatening consequences for not accomplishing tasks that are unclear.

Learning and practicing better family communication skills is important to stay in tune with one another. When talking with family members, give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return to ensure everyone understands the situation being discussed. Speak clearly, without anger or aggression, and do not project your flaws. 

Look at the person to whom you are speaking, and get their attention in return. Don't try to have a conversation with the TV blasting or while the other person is preoccupied on the computer or other electronic device. Otherwise, they may be hearing you, but not listening to what you are saying — and there is a difference. If you are shouting instructions from another room, or they are hurriedly communicating while heading out the door, something will be lost in translation.

Today's fast-paced society makes it easy to lose touch with person-to-person communications, dulling the essential skills of patience and listening. It is key to make the time to talk with your family and really listen to what they are saying without jumping to conclusions or laying blame. This requires paying careful attention, avoiding distractions, and allowing the person to finish speaking before you share your opinion, suggestion or solution.