Scorpio Season

It’s that time of year again. Birthday time. And today I’m turning 53. Yes, 53…53!! If I’m going to be perfectly honest, it does seem a little too old to be true. Ever play the game “If I didn’t know how old I was, how old would I think I was?” I play it every year before my birthday and my answer this year is 42 usually and maybe 45 on a bad day. I definitely don’t feel the way I imagine a 53 year old should.

A co-worker stopped by my desk to chat the other day and ending up telling me that I radiate the energy of a 34 year old. He didn’t say that I look like a 34 year old (that would be pushing it) but that I had a very youthful energy. I loved it. It was a huge compliment and I told him that he was now officially my favourite. The reason it was such a lovely compliment to me is that my philosophy hasn’t been to strive for eternal youth but to celebrate my age by doing my best to look and feel pretty kick-ass for a woman in her 50’s (yup, I really want to change the perceptions of our ageist society). And when I see women either lying about or being ashamed of their age, it literally hurts my heart. If we can’t accept and be proud of the stage of life we’re at, how are we ever going to feel our worth and expect the best for ourselves?

So, one more year went by and I still haven’t botoxed, filled or lifted anything and, although never say never, cosmetic rejuvenation is not on my list of immediate future plans. I get my rejuvenation from hiking, yoga, having a good man in my life and occasionally a few too many glasses of wine with my girlfriends (or my dog).

wine

What I really, really want to happen, however, is for people to think “wow, women in their 50’s can be pretty amazing”. I want all of us to be valued and appreciated and we sink into our skin a bit more, gain more compassion and wisdom and acquire a few more wrinkles. And I guess the way I see myself doing that is by staying fit, creative and continuing to grow as a person for a long, long time. So that, I think, is why this young man’s compliment touched my heart. It seemed uber-sincere and spoke to exactly how I want to age. Happily, gracefully, having a ton of fun and hiking and yoga-ing until the end.

So, I’m going to finish this post with a birthday wish. If I had one wish for womankind this year, it would be that we all learn to accept and love ourselves on a deep, deep level. Instead of being so concerned that we’ve gained 5 pounds, found a new wrinkle or silver hair, focus our energy on whether we’re living the life we want, doing work that inspires us and are surrounded by people who love and “get” us.  I desperately want us all to connect with our true inner beauty and love our outer beauty. And if our outer beauty isn’t what society values, then we have got to find a way to leave the beauty industry’s brainwashing behind us and learn to value ourselves and cherish ourselves and see our own beauty anyway. Women are so awesome. It’s time we fully realize that.

Here’s hoping all of my fab female readers will help make my birthday wish come true!

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I Like it Raw

 

So, I’ve been thinking quite a bit again about how much our society dreads the aging process and I’m doing everything I can to avoid joining that club.

We stick needles full of purified botulism in our faces to get rid of our life lines/wrinkles. I know it’s purified but, hello, it’s still botulism. We get laser treatment, face lifts, mini lifts, tummy tucks, lipo and fillers, all to try to turn back the proverbial clock. But why? Why are we so afraid to show, accept and even celebrate our age?

Looking back at my life in my 20’s & 30’s, um, it really wasn’t that great. I struggled with depression and anxiety and had a shaky sense of self at best. I wouldn’t go back there for the world and don’t particularly want to look that age again either. What I do want, however, is to look like the best 52 year old I possibly can.

Maybe a big part of our collective fear of aging is the thought that we’re going to fall apart as we get older. Less energy, more weight gain, less muscle tone, dull complexion etc. So what would happen if we could take those fears out of the aging equation? What if we knew we could stay fit and healthy and glowing as we got a little older? Sound good? Yes. How to achieve that? An easy-peasy 80% raw food eating plan.

I can’t say enough good things about eating this way. Whenever I drift away from it I sleep less soundly, my skin breaks out in annoying red bumps, my little tummy roll expands, and my energy drains away. And then, when I hop back on the raw food wagon, I feel and look better almost immediately. There are so many health and beauty benefits of raw food. Here are a few, taken from Mind, Body, Green:

1. Going raw got me back in the kitchen.

Eating out or ordering in every night was the first habit I had to break. Raw food restaurants in Jakarta (where I now live) are nonexistent, and the closest menu item I could find that was suitable to eat at most places was a very unsatisfying garden salad (which just doesn’t cut it for an evening meal!).

So I started going grocery shopping again, began making green smoothies for breakfast, packing my own salad for lunch at my office, and then experimenting in the kitchen at night.

This habit alone was one of the best things I could have gained from my year on raw. Eating home cooked meals is not only better energetically, but it means consuming better ingredients. It saves heaps of money, too.

2. The raw food diet helped me discover food intolerances.

Following a raw food diet means the common allergens in food are completely avoided: eggs, soy, wheat (gluten), sugar and dairy. These get cut out completely. By not including those items in my diet anymore, I started to feel amazing.

3. Eating raw made me more intuitive.

I started to eat such a clean diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting out all the processed crap and the above-mentioned allergens, that something changed inside me spiritually. My clean body seemed to open the passage for my intuition to soar.

It’s like my mind was no longer hazy from drinking too much booze the night before, or my brain fogged up from eating gluten, that I could see things with clarity. I could tap into my intuitive side, and I started to notice the beauty in the world around me. I became more focused and started to see the world differently, noticing the small and beautiful things around me.

4. Going raw changed my taste buds.

I stopped craving coffee every morning, and no longer needed alcohol to end my night. Sugar cravings got replaced by more savory ones, and if I did crave sugar I’d feed myself a super indulgent yet still healthy raw dessert, which did not have the same negative effect as eating a whole roll of Mentos or Skittles, my former vices. I now miss it when I don’t have a green smoothie for a few days if I’m traveling, and junk foods don’t even factor into any of my decisions around food anymore.

5. Following a raw lifestyle meant cleaning my act up.

The raw food lifestyle changed all my former party girl ways. The thought of sitting in a smoky bar while drinking all night seemed absurd when everything else in my life was now so clean. I much preferred to stay at home experimenting in the kitchen on a new recipe, learning about raw foods and healthy living, and practicing yoga and meditation than going out partying on a Friday or Saturday night. I had found a new passion, and that really fueled me more than any of more former bad habits had.

6. Eating raw foods taught me about diet and nutrition.

As I started to change my diet and lifestyle, I began fielding questions from curious friends and colleagues. So I started writing a blog to share recipes and other aspects of my experience.

This led me to begin learning even more about food, nutrition and health. My thirst for this new knowledge was almost insatiable. Reading novels got replaced by reading nonfiction books on nutrition and diet, and I became obsessed with healthy, raw and vegan cookbooks as I devoured all the information I could get my hands on.

7. Going raw led me on a new career path.

I then discovered a new career I could have: health coaching. I never knew that this job even existed, but as soon as I found out about it, I just knew that I had to become one.

So I did my diploma, trained as a raw food chef and started teaching classes in my home. Then I started seeing clients and decided to take my career in a whole new direction.

These days I eat a mostly raw diet, but it’s actually a plant-based diet mixed in with raw and cooked food. But if it hadn’t been for raw foods I don’t think my overall well-being would be the way it is now, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this article. It really is amazing how things can change by making one decision. All it takes is the first step, and it can lead you to just about anywhere! – Simone Samuels

So, if you’re curious about the benefits raw, trying “raw until dinner” is a good way to check it out without throwing your system into complete shock. Most raw eating plans are vegan but mine is more of a raw paleo plan, including fish and a bit of organic meat and dairy. It’s important to follow whatever plan is best for you and to listen to your intuition regarding what nutrients your body needs.

Breakfast can be a green smoothie, a bowl of fruit and/or raw nut butter for breakfast, a huge salad, raw sashimi, a raw veggie salad and/or a chilled soup (gazpacho, cucumber) for lunch. Warning: you will eat a lot of fruit and veggies on this plan, so definitely stock up. Then, eat whatever you like at dinner.  That’s really all it takes to see awesome health benefits. And I pretty much guarantee as time goes by you will see your dinners naturally and effortlessly get cleaner and healthier as your tastebuds change.

Throw a little fun exercise into the mix and, voila, you have the best, most kick-ass anti-aging plan ever! No botox or lipo necessary.

Birthdays, Aging and Rene Zellweger

Rene Zellweger’s face seems to be everywhere I turn these days. Twitter, Facebook, TMZ, E-News. You’d think this was the first time a celebrity was noticed having a little nip and tuck done. It’s weird and it feels a little to much like bullying. It looks like she had an eye-lift, yes, but is that really a cause for social media hysteria? It seems like everyone preferred her eyes the way they were before but…so what? Aren’t there way more important and, quite frankly, interesting things going on in the world than the state of Renee Zellweger’s eyes?

Personally, I think she looks great. Who knows? Maybe she never liked her eyes and finally did something about it. Good for her if that’s the case and if it’s not, well, it’s really none of my business anyway. I cannot imagine being a 40 something or, even worse a 50 something female in Hollywood. If you don’t get plastic surgery, you know you’re going to end up on the cover of a tabloid with the caption “She Looks Shockingly Old!” and if you do get plastic surgery, you’re going to end up on the cover of the same tabloid with the caption “Too Much Work Done”. I’m amazed that more stars don’t shoot themselves in the head.

Smart, kooky Russell Brand sums up the situation here. Amen Russell.

And, on the subject of aging, I’m turning 52 today. I haven’t botoxed, injected or lifted anything yet but, never say never. I love the idea of aging gracefully and naturally but, let’s face it, we live in a youth-worshipping society and everyone has to decide how they are going to wrangle this collective fear of aging as the years go by.

I had a birthday dinner on Saturday and I created an event on Facebook that I jokingly titled “The Second Anniversary of My 50th Birthday”, subtitle “I’ve decided I’m not really into getting any older so please help me celebrate the anniversary of my 50th birthday”. One of my friends laughed about it and said she was so excited that we are both turning 50 this year but another friend didn’t see the humour in my dinner party title and expressed her opinion that we should be proud of our ages and not try to hide them even in a joking way. So, on that note, I’d like to share a piece I wrote a couple of years ago when I turned 50. Like most people I’m definitely influenced by the media and images of photo-shopped perfection so I always like to re-read this on my birthday and remember that getting older has some really great benefits and that the ultimate thing to do is be brave, be proud of your age and don’t worry too much about what others may think.

The Journey

birthdayToday is an interesting day. I’m turning 50 today. Yep, 50. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that being a fifty-something can have some negative connotations in our youth worshipping culture. The phrase “over-the-hill” being one that immediately springs to mind. I always find it simultaneously flattering and insulting when someone looks at me and says incredulously, and in a loud voice, “I can’t believe you’re fifty!!” So, yes, thank you for saying I look good for my age but what do you think fifty is supposed to look like? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Happily, I don’t feel like I’m too much past my prime (well…most days). That’s not to say that I haven’t slowed down a bit. I have. Or that I don’t have wrinkles and a few patches of sparkly, silver hair. I do. And some days I look in the mirror and think “ÒMG, my face has fallen and it can’t get up!” But the feeling passes and I don’t feel that my life is over or that it even has lessened really. It has definitely shifted but I’m finding that I like the changes and my life actually feels richer because of them. I’m not so interested in shopping as a sport or late night parties any more and I’ve gotten into nature in a very big way. Also, when I was younger and living in Toronto, I drank and partied enough for a few lifetimes so don’t feel that I’ve missed out on a thing. No mid-life crisis required.

Deep down I feel pretty content with my age, good with where I am in my life and excited about where I’m heading. When I let myself be influenced by the media though, things can shift rapidly. What I really grapple with these days are the never-ending beauty ads, doing their best to keep women unhappy with how they look at any age and especially unhappy when you reach “a certain age”. You know, the airbrushed, photo-shopped, almost unrecognizable faces of models and celebrities gracing various anti-aging products. All of the shadows, lines, and even pores, whisked away by computer technology. Use this product, the ad implies, and you too can have a face that looks like a perfect, blank, and ever so slightly inhuman mannequin. So we look at the flawless, porcelain faces in the ads, then look in the mirror and think, OH MY GOD!! Better run to the drugstore and buy (insert cream du jour) right now!! Since modern day marketing is so pervasive and slowly, subliminally, saturates our brains, these are the ads that I avoid at all costs.

My friend Louise, a fabulous and lovely fifty-something, and I were discussing the subject of aging gracefully at a cocktail party the other night. Our “what not to do” list included the overly filled lip syndrome, also known as “trout pout” (so loved by a certain “Real Housewives” kinda gal), as well as the frozen face look, courtesy of too much botox and too many fillers. This look, unfortunately, is becoming more and more prevalent these days as even dentists have started administering botox. As we talked, I found myself getting quite heated about the whole “be ashamed of and hide your age” message that our society sends on a regular basis. Louise and I both agreed that we feel so much more content and at home in our skin now than we ever did in our 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s and that is, by far, the biggest gift of getting older.

I think my main issue with trying desperately to wipe out our wrinkles, sags and bags is that by doing so we aren’t honouring ourselves or the journey that got us all to where we are now. If we feel happier and more self assured in our 50’s, why wouldn’t we celebrate everything about that? Why would we try to erase any of the years of our unique journey from our faces? Wouldn’t it make more sense to embrace the way we look now and the beautiful, painful, joyful, funny, tragic life experiences that have made us who we are today?

So, ladies (and gentlemen), here’s the moral of my post: Eat right, work out, laugh a lot, especially with good friends over a glass of wine. Get outside, go on an adventure, use a great moisturizer and maybe even get a little injection of botox for that special occasion but don’t try to erase the journey that has made you the uniquely beautiful person you are now. Love your wrinkles, especially if you acquired them doing something great, ie. laughing or lying on a warm, sandy beach.

Don’t hide your age. Be proud of it. Be an inspiration to everyone following in your footsteps and revel in your glorious, wise(r), fifty-something self. When you think about it, why would you want to do anything else?

HAPA birthday

Elle MacPherson & Mango Sorbet

While I was on vacation, away from my day to day reality, my life turned into one big cheat week.

I had deliciously greasy Mexican food in fab, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and super rich Greek food at Petros in Manhattan Beach (If you are ever in the neighborhood, sit at the bar and order the prawn saganaki, greek salad and the organic California Pinot Gris. Amazing!).

Enchiladas, burritos, fish tacos, calamari…On and on it went. Occasionally I would throw a cold-pressed juice, salad or big, juicy watermelon into the mix but mostly I ate whatever the heck I wanted with zero guilt.

But America is different than Canada. Admittedly, we have big portions here but the US of A takes it to another level with Godzilla size meals. I noticed this daily as I ate my way through Southern California. Especially, when on the way home from the beach one day, my friend Tammy did an ice cream run. I asked for a small chocolate and she returned with a huge, two scoop cone. When I questioned her about the size of my ice cream cone, she said that it was the smallest size. Oh God! I thought and then proceeded to eat it all.

I came back to Canada full, sluggish and wearing uncomfortably tight jeans.

And then I saw this:

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If I look at pictures of when I was young, my smile wasn’t even genuine, because I was so wracked with self-consciousness. Now I look at my pictures and I think, “Yeah, that’s where I’m at. That’s who I am. I’m not 20, I’m 50. I’m comfortable.” – Elle MacPherson

Read article here.

Okay, I realize Elle MacPherson has super-gorgeous, super-model genes. But she’s 50 now and great genes will only take you so far. Elle is a woman who looks like she’s been taking wickedly good care of herself for a long, long time. It’s not that we should all aspire to look just like her but I love seeing people in the media who prove that we don’t have to fall apart as we age. Especially when they do it without any trips to the plastic surgeon’s office. I saw an interview with Elle M. on TV shortly after reading the above article and she looks seriously un-botoxed. Her face is showing a bit of aging but it just makes her look like a lovely, natural, sexy surfer girl of a certain age…which is exactly what she is.

Anyway, this photo has inspired me to get off the enchilada train and back onto my healthy eating path with a mini, juicy cleanse. And while I’m cleansing, Elle’s bikini photo is going to be on my fridge for inspiration.

Another thing that is going to be on my cleanse is this delicious mango- banana sorbet.

Mango Banana Sorbet

  • 1 cup of frozen mango
  • 1 frozen banana
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Splash of coconut milk

banana mango sorbet

Place all of the above in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Because, even on a cleanse, a girl can’t live on liquids alone.

 

 

Dove’s Beauty Patch

One of my favourite bloggers, Nancy of My Year of Sweat, wrote a beautiful post today that included this video:

As I watched the video, I found my eyes starting to water. And then the watering eyes turned into a full on, good, deep cry. Why was I crying? So many reasons. This video was a big reminder of how successful our society is at setting up women to never be satisfied with how we look. The ages, weight ranges and body shapes that are deemed acceptable are very, very narrow and, for a lot of us, unattainable. How deeply, heartbreakingly sad.

And, because I’m 51, one of the most moving moments for me was when a woman asked why aging is so bad? Why can’t it be seen as a good thing? Why indeed?

Can you imagine a world where aging was seen as a positive? Where we celebrated our wisdom and our wrinkles? The billion dollar plastic surgery industry would collapse. There would be no more botox or fillers or freakish “trout pout” collagen lips. A world where women were proud of their age instead of ashamed. Can you even imagine?

I think it’s time to start a revolution ladies. Time to create a new reality where the word “beautiful” encompasses a wide variety of body types, ethnicities and ages. Because the real truth, which I hope we all know deep down, is that we are all perfectly beautiful just as we are.

Read Nancy’s post here.