We have a bit of a joke in my house, about me being a Frugal Fran.
It started after my husband noticed that I reuse my teabags, wash our Ziploc bags, use the same handbag until the strap falls off, and wait for movies to show up on Amazon, rather than going to the cinema.
My thriftiness didn’t begin with our marriage. As a child I would loan my brother pocket-money after he had spent his last cent on video games and lollies; I remember keeping a running tally of what he owed me in a little pocket-notebook (interest column to the right)!
But there are three things that I don’t skimp on, which has allowed me to “buy happiness.”
I pay for good health
I pay for more time
I pay for experiences
BUY GOOD HEALTH
While I can’t recall the last time I bought a new pair of shoes, I don’t bat an eyelash at spending $200 on groceries, $25 on a prenatal yoga class, or working with a coach or therapist, should I need. Funnily enough, I also can’t remember the last time I was sick, achy, or experienced anxiety.
To me, these things don’t classify as spending — they are investing in myself, for the present moment and the future.
BUY MORE TIME
Whenever my husband and I are in a particularly busy work period, I will happily outsource some of our necessary but time-consuming home tasks, such as housecleaning or visiting the dry-cleaners. As a family, this isn’t something that we do on a weekly basis, but if circumstances have led us to choose between spending quality time together OR scrubbing the shower floor, I will pick our time, every single time.
If it’s financially viable for my clients, I recommend that they look into grocery delivery services, house-keeping services, dry-cleaning, etc. If it gives them more time to focus on their health and happiness, then it’s a worthwhile expense.
Our Los Angeles neighbors may giggle at the fact that Nate and I share a car — a bright red, stick-shift, 2007 Mazda 3, to be exact — but we’re the ones having the last laugh as we jet-off on our annual international trip, host dinner parties, and take surfing lessons.
The excitement of a new possession wears off almost immediately, whereas the memories of a great experience last a lifetime. Paying for health, free time, and memorable experiences are worth more than anything you can pick up at the department store or via Amazon.
I bring this up, as today I was reminded of the saying money can’t buy happiness. To which I reply, it can…if you spend wisely.
SO I ASK YOU…
What are you buying?
Does it make you happy?
And could you honestly say that the purchases you’re making are an investment in yourself, for now, and the future?
Plus, when you consider that 92% of resolution-makers quit long before they reach their goals, it begs the question — should we make them at all?
In my opinion, we should not.
Rather than planning out the next 12 months, what if we just focused on the next 12 hours instead? After all, 365 pretty good days will turn into a damn good year before you know it.
That’s my plan for this year. Instead of spending time thinking about how I can improve myself and my life, I’m choosing to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, with the intention of being rather than becoming.
I have to admit, the idea of taking each day as it comes makes me feel a little untethered. The little Negative Nellie voice inside my head is already berating me for not doing more and being more. But I’m going to practice what I preach…and tell her to zip it!
Being rather becoming doesn’t mean you won’t make progress. In fact, I have a hunch that in doing rather than deliberating you will move ahead in leaps and bounds.
When we take life one day at a time we will quickly realize that we’re actually good at it.
It’s easy to forget how simple it is to be healthy, how easy it is to “choose happy”, and how valuable we already are, sans resolutions to lose weight, be better people, make more money or improve our relationships.
Instead of worrying about the rest of the year, start living for today. Today you can make a change for better health. Today you can choose to laugh instead of cry. Today you can be great!
In the words of our old mate, Albert Einstein:
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
These wordsare Post-It-noted to my vanity mirror, and act as my daily reminder to be thankful.
The quote – spoken by one of my favorite authors and the renowned research professor, Dr Brené Brown — was borne from the realization that many people can’t experience joy without fear.
The fear is that something will go wrong, because at the present moment it all feels so right. Furthermore, in experiencing the joy we will only experience a greater level of loss.
A sad idea, but one that makes sense to me nonetheless.
It’s human nature to protect ourselves from vulnerability…
And I can think of few things more vulnerable than allowing ourselves to fall head-over-heels into joy, while being keenly aware that the feeling could disappear.
Yet shielding ourselves from hurt doesn’t make the suffering any less. In fact, the opposite may be true — pain is compounded when we’re left feeling the ache of loss, and also living with the regret of not choosing that moment of deep, unbridled satisfaction.
So how does gratitude help?
In the words of Brené Brown it lets us “soften into joy”. Gratitude is a practice of vulnerability…we are appreciating moments of contentment without waiting for the other shoe to drop. And while it can’t protect us from loss and sadness, it does help us lean more deeply into the present moment, and allow us to feel the happy without needing to protect ourselves from the sad.
Most importantly for me, gratitude brings with it clarity. Acknowledging the gift of the present moment, coupled with the awareness that it won’t be this way forever, allows me to fully participate in joy without pessimism or fear. Gratitude has shown me how to feel more deeply, engage more mindfully, and be truly thankful that I get to experience the moment and keep the memory.
Gratitude takes a magnifying glass to every moment of contentment and elevates it to one of unbridled joy.
And that’s why there’s no joy without gratitude.
So I’d like to offer up a suggestion for your week…
Look for those small moments of pleasure in your day-to-day life and then really live them: breathe them, engage with them, create them and remember them. Most of all, be grateful for them.
This idea recently popped into my earbuds as I listened to a podcast interview with Jennifer Rudolph Walsh — literary agent to radical female thinkers such as Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington and Brené Brown. It’s an interesting take on a topic that I often talk about; you can find me wailing against negative self talk here and here, and I offer healthy ways to break the habit in my Soulful Self Love Challenge.
But negative narcissism? Well, I hadn’t really ever thought about it that way.
On the one hand, negative self talk — the inner dialogue that harshly narrates your life —could be seen as self indulgent. Is it not egotistical to analyze and criticize every one of your thoughts and actions, or obsess over every physical flaw and personal failure?
I would argue that it is a little selfish to live our lives through the lens of self doubt. Here’s why:
You decline an invitation because you think you’re not good in social situations. The Result? You leave a friend with one less guest at their party.
You don’t ask for a promotion because you doubt you’ll get it. The Result? Your company suffers from missing the opportunity to have you in a leadership position.
You can’t appreciate how a gorgeous designer dress floats over your body because all you see are your (too wide, too narrow) hips. TheResult? You steal appreciation from the designer…and from the fact that you have a beautiful body and access to beautiful clothes.
You constantly turn to your partner for reassurance that you look / act / ARE ok. TheResult? You risk losing the delicate give-take balance of relationship, where momentsshould be experienced together, and are not, in fact, about either of you as individuals.
Food for thought, eh?
Of course, you don’t have to agree.
If you are one of the millions of women who battle the daily rhetoric of negative self talk you probably think that narcissism is NOT a trait in your personality toolbox. You almost laugh as you imagine Narcissus peering at his perfect reflection in the water…you try to avoid mirrored surfaces at all costs!
As a recovering negative self talker I initially took Walsh’s statement as a personal affront. I spent half a life thinking that I wasn’t as good as everyone else, how on earth is that narcissistic? But as I thought about it some more I realized that (perhaps) the idea could hold a nugget of truth.
The most kind and generous people I know don’t strive to be like everyone else or sacrifice themselves for others. They are content in who they are and with what they have. This contentment is both a resource they can share and a quality that attracts others to them. Do they struggle with their own insecurities and have their own vices? Undoubtedly. But what they don’t do is shape their lives around their personal doubts, limit themselves with their own beliefs, or compare themselves to other people.
Ultimately I won’t equate negative self talk with negative narcissism, but I will acknowledge that it’s both a selfish and self-restricting practice. Negative self talk is a crutch for women who aren’t willing to look inward with self compassion and step outward with intention.
We can all make the decision to be a little kinder and more encouraging to ourselves every day. The question is: will you?
I hope you’ll weigh in on this week’s discussion by leaving a comment below.
We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.
But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.
I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.
We women, nurturers at heart,tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.
But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.
So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?
Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.
Step One: choose your purposeful adjective
Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).
Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…
Step Two: pick a goal of purpose
What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!
This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.
Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.
Step Three: decide your daily tasks
Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.
Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.
After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other.
Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:
I want to feel organized and artistic.
My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).
Monday: print trip photos
Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook
Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space
Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook
Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts
Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)
Step Four: reflect and validate
Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.
Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.
Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.
I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was no math whiz growing up.
In fact, I remember sitting in 9th grade advanced mathematics, tears streaming down my face, while my very intelligent, but not at all understanding teacher, Mr Patel, stood over my desk and pointed at the unanswered equation on my page.
“What’s the answer? What is it? What does this mean?”
I guess he figured that by repeatedly jabbing the end of his spindly finger onto my ink-smudged page — and asking me the same question over and over, in slightly different ways — that the Albert Einstein-esque lightbulb would switch on in my brain, and I’d be able to provide the correct answer.
As you can guess, that didn’t happen.
Mercifully, the next week I was dropped to basic mathematics with the tolerant Mrs Dwyer in room 17J.
Now you may be wondering what this story has to do with your health and happiness, which is a fair question to ask.
Well, scarring childhood memories aside (and the fact that I still struggle to multiply anything that doesn’t end in “0” or “5”), I’m actually a rather big fan of financial books.
And in my readings I’ve realized that my healthy living philosophy is very similar to my take on finding financial freedom. That is to say: a simple and sustainable strategy is going to reap more rewards than a flash-in-the-pan investment with the promise of a quick return.
Play the smart game and you’ll be set up for success…
But try to cut corners for an overnight win and you’ll ultimately find yourself $10,000 in the hole, or in this case, 10 more pounds overweight.
I came to this conclusion after comparing my wellness programs, and health and nutrition philosophy, to those currently making headlines in the glossy magazines.
The popular stuff is very sexy:
Add butter to your coffee and lose 10 pounds by Friday!
Restrict calories two days a week and eat whatever you want the rest of the time!
Train so hard that you want to throw up, and you only need be in the gym for 10 minutes a day!
My stuff, it seems, is more like what your mum might have told you growing up:
Eat your greens…
Get good quality sleep…
Be nice to yourself…
Don’t eat directly out of the chip bag…
It’s ok, you can admit that it seems less cool…
I know it too.
But if you’ve been following along with me for a while you’ll realize that I actually have very little interest in being cool — largely because it’d put a cramp in my “pajamas by 6pm” evening routine.
And the problem is that “cool” and “sustainable” tend not to go hand-in-hand.
So you have a choice to make, my dear friend. Here are your two options:
Be cool today and then commit to staying up to date with the latest trends, fads and quick fixes. (Warning: results not guaranteed.)
Buck the Hollywood trends, and trust that my “back-to-basics” approach is guaranteed to help you reach and maintain all of your wellness goals, and attain life long health and happiness in the process.
Gosh, that last option almost sounds a little sexy, don’t you think?!
So press play on the video below, where I’ll walk you through 14 of the best healthy lifestyle habits so that you can become a wellness Wonder Woman from the comfort of your own jammies.
The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Woman (like you and me)
Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you!
Which of these 14 habits are you going to focus on first?
Are you willing to invest in your health by making simple and sustainable changes to your current lifestyle?
Today we’re going to figure out your self love language, which actually starts with your family tree.
If you think about spending five straight days with your favorite family members, what comes up?
Probably thoughts of cheer, sitting around a table sharing food, drink and laughter…
Perhaps a slight feeling of frustration or annoyance — ruffled feathers are bound to happen when you put relatives in a room together for days at a time…
And also indescribable love.
Now, if I ask you to think about your body (specifically your physical appearance), what comes up then?
What are the first three words that come to mind when I say, tell me what you think about your body?
Say them out loud…
Hopefully you just heard yourself say something along the lines of: beautiful, healthy, fit, appreciated, strong, unique, consistent, feminine, comfortable, pretty good or bloody brilliant!
If not, I’d like to offer up an idea:
Try viewing your relationship with your body in a similar way to your relationship with your favorite family members. Some days you love its comfort and reliability, some days it annoys the heck out of you, and some days you adore and admire it so much that you can’t believe its actually yours.
Being body positive doesn’t mean unquestionably adoring yourself at every waking moment. If that’s what you’re working towards, you’re going to be disappointed.
Even those people you love the most can still get on your last nerve from time to time. (And just sometimes, on rare occasions, you might even feel tempted to trade them in for a newer model!) But that doesn’t mean you would go around berating them every day, nor would you constantly compare them to others.
If I asked you to describe your most cherished friends in three words, it’s unlikely that those words would be cruel or critical.
So why do it to yourself?
The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her own body every day — that’s one for almost every waking hour. Many have upwards of 100.
If you spoke so venomously towards another person chances are you’d be in therapy (or have a restraining order taken out against you). Unfortunately, no one is policing what we say to ourselves. So it’s up to you to take a stand and change your self love language.
It’s important to realize that the language of self love needn’t be hippy dippy or woo-woo. You don’t need to self-identify as a “goddess” to love yourself (despite what social media influencers might tell you). In fact, I believe that using these labels is just another shield to hide behind…it’s easier to throw your hands up and yell “I am a goddess” than it is to look in the mirror and say, “you know what, I’m pretty ok”.
You can be body positive and:
Complain about your creaky knees
Desire to lose or gain weight
Feel a little frustrated that you over-plucked your right eyebrow
Body positivity comes from loving yourself despite your imperfections (or perhaps, because of them).
Being proud of who you are means being real about who you are…
So its time to use real language, speak real words, and have real thoughts and opinions about yourself — just like you do with Uncle Fred.
When you can love yourself unconditionally — even if somedays there are certain things you don’t like — then you have won the body positivity battle.
I thought this was an important point to make as I see more and more women desire to improve their self love practice and fall in love with their body and life. I know this journey takes courage and persistence (I’ve walked its path too), but I also know that once you find the right footing, your life really does change.
So my suggestion for you as you enter a new day: treat your body the way you’d treat a favorite family member, with the self love language of respect, kindness, adoration, frustration (and even the occasional whinge).
In just a little while I’ll be celebrating with the handsome Nathaniel, a glass of Moet and some very good cheese. But before I kick off my shoes and pop open that bottle of bubbly, I’m taking some time to reflect on the last (almost three) decades.
I sometimes look around at my life and think: huh, who would have ever thought that’d happen. Every year brings with it new surprises and adventures, and we never really know what will transpire next.
Growing up as girl in a beautiful yet small Australian country town, I never would have expected that I would find myself living in Los Angeles, married to a Southern boy, and teaching women how to feel fit, feminine and fabulous through healthy living and self care.
In fact, this life that I’m living never really crossed my mind…it just sort of happened!
At various times throughout my childhood I wanted to be: a gas station attendant (I loved washing windshields with a squeegee); a bank teller (I got a real kick out of counting coins and shuffling notes); and for a few years my aspiration to become a lawyer (which would justify the owning of a briefcase) butted heads with my desire to be a marine biologist (and swim with the dolphins every day).
What actually happened was that I got a degree in journalism and started teaching fitness.
Since then, a series of unforeseen events, saying yes to new opportunities and rolling with the flow of life has brought me to where I am today…sitting in the Miracle Mile, thinking that pre-breakfast mimosas sounds like a very civilized idea.
The road that takes us to where we need to go is rarely clear and often tricky to navigate. But what we discover with every step will shape us in ways that we could never have realized, had we not dared to step off the beaten path.
With that in mind, and in honor of turning 29, I wanted to share 29 things that I’ve learnt about healthy living and loving the skin you’re in.
And then I’d love to hear from you.
What one nugget of knowledge would you tell your younger self? Like a rising tide lifts all boats, sharing our words of wisdom with one another makes us all stronger. So please, leave a comment below!
29 Things That I’ve Learnt About Healthy Living (And Loving The Skin You’re In)
Once-upon-a-time being healthy was as simple as feeling well, getting good results at your annual check-up, and being able to do the things you want to do — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Today? Not so much…
It seems that being healthy in 2017 is no longer just about how you feel, but is also defined by your ability to complete a long list of the latest *cough arbitrary cough* healthy rules.
So while it was once simple to gauge the old health barometer, these days it’s much harder to know if you’re in good shape or need to shape up.
I mean heck, what does healthy even mean anymore?
If you had asked me that question at different stages of my life I would have given you very different answers.
During my childhood and early teens I defined being healthy as having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache. Add to that sleeping well and eating my vegetables, and I figured I was doing just fine.
It wasn’t until my late teens that things like body-shaming and dieting really came to my attention, but boy did I catch on fast. At this time I would have described being healthy by my pant size, weight and rapidly receding reflection.
In my mid-twenties I worked hard on redefining what healthy meant for myself, yet the little voice inside my head — the one that then drove most of my decision-making — still came straight from the pages of a women’s health and fitness magazine.
At this time I also confused the need to be healthier with the need to be the healthiest, a mistake that you might also be making and one which is preventing you from loving your body and life.
Yet now, as I peer over the edge towards my 29th year, I’ve made a discovery that will make you smile.
Can you guess what I’ve decided, after more than a decade of wading through contradictory advice on what it means to be a healthy woman?
Being healthy is having a clear mind, an active body, and no runny nose or belly ache!
(Don’t you love when things in life come full circle?! I know I do!)
Is that a simplistic statement? Sure.
Am Iactually more healthy now than I was as a teenager? Undoubtedly.
Do I think we all need to be more proactive about our health, and feel encouraged to make gentle changes every day that make us that little bit healthier? I do.
But the truth is that we can do that without making healthy feel harder. We can define this term for ourselves and recognize that there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to creating a healthy life.
So if you’ve been feeling behind the eight-ball in trying to figure out what healthy means for you, here’s what I recommend you do:
Close the magazine or shut down that social media app that is trying to define YOUR health on their terms.
Take a breath.
Then, think about what your 12-year-old self would have told you, had you asked what healthy meant to them.