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Life doesn't always unfold exactly the way you want it to, no matter how positive you've been thinking and how well you've been planning. Sometimes you think you're focusing on the right things, but subconsciously you might have been focusing on what you don't want, because you've been worried about a certain scenario. And then you might experience that part of that "worst case" scenario is what you end up experiencing in your life, and NOT the things you believe you've been planning for.
This might set you back for a while and make you depressed, but I'm telling you: When these kind of things happen, the best you can do is to try and focus on how you can change the situation for the better, - make the best out of it. As the saying goes: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"
This is something I have experienced more than once in my own life, and I'm actually going through a period like that right now. I've been a positive person most of my life and have learned not to worry too much. It took a while, though, before I understood the connection between my thoughts and emotions and what unfolded in my life, but when I did, I managed to correct my course and have better experiences on a general basis. This is how I finally managed to get rid of a more or less constant migraine after a few very destressing years, and also managed to improve my day-to-day situation on so many levels.
However: There are things in life that have been harder to keep out of mind than others, and harder to avoid worrying about. This has especially been the case with my health, and right now I'm going through a stressful time because of my eyes, or to be exact: One of my eyes. I've got a macula hole on my left eye, and will be submitted to hospital tomorrow for an eye operation. I'm not too concerned about the operation itself, because I will be sleeping during the procedure, but I'm kind of worried and stressed out about the first 3 days especially and also the first 3-4 weeks after the operation. But I'll do my best not to worry. This, too, shall pass...
I've been struggling with this problem for a year now, and it has highly affected my ability to work online etc, so I've experienced a real set-back in my plans for an online business. At times I've been really depressed about it. I have no idea what the future will bring and how much I'll be able to do with my online business plans for the next few months. I might have to reconsider everything. But I won't give up quite yet. I've decided to "make lemonade" - try to find a new way of doing things. And I will succeed. I just might have to change my plans. I might have to take a completely different direction. But I'm trusting that it will be fine in the end. I'll focus on the possibilities, not the problems. I'll slow down and seek guidance from my inner self and from the Universe / God, and I'm sure I'll find the way. I actually quite like lemons. So I'll make lemonade ...
Stay tuned and see what happens!
And if life has given you some lemons, too, - let's make lemonade together!
Everything will turn out fine! We might just have to change direction...
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French women always seem to have great skin, don’t they? Well, there’s a reason for that: they do skincare … well … the French way. French skincare is different to skincare in America, or even in different European countries. So, if you want great skin, try simplifying your skincare routine by adopting French skincare.
HOW IS FRENCH SKINCARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER
TYPE OF SKIN CARE?
Well, for a start: French skincare is more relaxed and intentional. It’s also quite minimal. Typically, a French skincare routine will have 3 steps. The key factors are a mild cleanser, a toner and a good moisturizer.
You can compare that to an average skincare routine in other countries (where you’ll often find recommendations for doing an elaborate routine both in the morning AND evening).
A typical skincare routine in other countries may look something like this:
Do not mistake the relaxed attitude
In a French skincare routine you know what each step does. And a French woman will certainly not freak out over a pimple. She’ll simply let it run it’s course, because there are more important things in life. I think we can all learn something from French women here. It’s our imperfections that make us who we are, and honestly, we should all learn to love those imperfections!
However, this relaxed attitude must not be mistaken for not caring for their skin. It’s just that the focus is different. A simple, yet effective routine leaves time to enjoy other aspects of life. Like a good cup of coffee in the morning.
French skincare is just as much about prevention and having good skin in the future as it is about having good skin right now.
Additional steps to the basic routine
In addition to the 3 key steps, a French woman will use a gentle exfoliant once or twice a week. There is no need to use it more often, and your skin needs to rest. If you exfoliate too often, your skin will be stripped of it’s natural barrier and you might end up with dry skin that breaks out.
In addition to a simple routine, French women tend to start getting facials at quite a young age. Typically, they’ll get a facial maybe once a month.
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
How can I replicate a French skincare routine
1. Reduce the number of products.
First, go through your products. Most likely you’ll do well to reduce the amount of products you use. You especially need to get rid of any harsh cleansers or exfoliants.
Any soapy cleansers are no use in a French skincare routine, as soap can disturb your skin’s pH balance and strips away natural bacteria (that are good for your skin). Instead, opt for mild cleansers that remove makeup gently.
2. Stick to your products
Another thing French women do, is they stick to the same products. They find some products that work for their skin, whether that’s oily, dry or normal skin. And you should too!
When you buy products, buy with intention. And when you find something that works for you, stick with it! You may change between a lighter and heavier moisturizer depending on the season, but other than that, your skin will thank you for not overloading it with new products all the time. That way you save your money and you save your skin.
3. Buy few, but high-quality skin products
As I touched upon just now, you want to buy only a few products. But the products you buy should be high quality. So stay away from the superstore value pack moisturizer and do like French women: go to the pharmacy.
French women don’t buy their skincare products just anywhere. They prefer buying them at the pharmacy, where they can also get expert help to find the best products for their skin.
When you’re shopping for new products, you should never be afraid to ask for help.
How you can benefit from a French
If you struggle with your skin, I think you could definitely benefit from simplifying your routine and adopt French skincare!
Less is more, and with an effortless routine you can enjoy the rest of your day with less stress.
If you choose to adopt a French skincare routine, I also think you’ll find that you slowly will get a more relaxed relationship to your skin.
I hope this blog post has been of value to you. If you liked it, you might also be interested in my article about 12 Ways You Can Become Slim & Chic Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat.
If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and also share it with someone else who might enjoy it, too!
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Taking care of yourself is essential to living the best life possible. And it's not just about the physical body, but also your inner being, or your soul, if you like. How you feel mentally has a huge impact on how you feel physically. And that's not just something I'm saying. It's been scientifically proven.
Stress in all forms and shapes affects our body. That's something I've experienced personally. I've been fighting a silent battle with PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) for almost 20 years (you can read all about that in an article I've written). Stress is something I should avoid at all cost, but I haven't always managed to keep it away from my life.
But I've learned a lot over the last decade or so, and I've found techniques that have helped me live a better life in so many ways. Not only with PCS, but I've also gained wisdom that have made me look at life itself in a different way than before.
Like I said at the beginning, health and wellbeing is about more than the physical body, but physical activity does definitly also have an effect on your mental health. They're mutually important. Actually, I don't think you can have one without the other.
One year ago, I often woke up feeling completely exhausted, even after a whole night's sleep. So I tried not to have too many plans for the day, but take things more as they came.
My one determination, though, was to do my Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge routine. I had come across it on the internet, and ordered the program because yoga seemed to be a form of exercise that I would be able to do even though I had some health issues. So I started doing it every second day.
(I wrote an article about this back in May 2019. The article is called Why I Love To Do Yoga As Exercise, Even When I Have Zero Motivation, and is about my experience with The Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge, a great program created by Zoe Bray-Cotton. Please note that the link to the program is my personal affiliate link, so I may earn a small commission if you sign up for the program through my link, but at no extra cost to you, of course.)
In my first week, I found it invigorating and not too hard to commit to, so I actually believed that this was something I was going to stick with. (Unlike any other work-out or exercise routine that I'd tried in the past.)
The Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge is a 12 weeks' program, and I seriously thought I'd be able to see it through. The benefits were obvious: Better over-all physical condition, better health, better ME!
Hopefully, I'd even lose some weight and get a more toned, lean and strong body, which was very high up on my list of short- (and long-) term goals, and still is.
It was something I definitely considered to be a part of my Freedom Journey, because to me, freedom is also feeling free in my body. Feeling comfortable in my own skin. Even though I know my body is quite satisfactory the way it is, I still have a strong desire to lose some weight and get a leaner and stronger body, like the one I used to have before. Simply because the way I am now, doesn't feel like me.
I was always lean and strong in my younger days, even after 2 child-births, - but then 20 years ago I had an accident. I got a head injury which then caused PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It set me back physically and got me into a downward spiral with less exercise and gain of weight.
When I slowly started to come back to normal, I decided to try and find some kind of exercise that I could do. It wasn't easy, though.
I tried jogging for a while, and I'd always liked running, so I was very motivated when I soon experienced some positive results. But I did my jogging mainly in the streets, on hard surfaces, and this eventually took a toll on my knees, so I had to stop.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Then I tried following a work-out program with Jillian Michaels, the "30 Day Shred" program, and I really enjoyed that and quickly saw results. To this day, I actually do parts of that program now and then, but not on a consistent basis.
Then I tried the Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge, which I actually followed for quite a long time ... and then I quit that, too. But mind you: That had nothing to do with the program itself, because to this day I truly believe that it's a great program and that anybody who is able to stick with it, will benefit from it!
Problems with following routines
That's just been the story of my life ever since I gained weight. I've had a tendency to fall back into old habits after a few weeks and haven't been able to stick to any program long-term. As much as I enjoy them - and I do, really! - I just can't seem to stick with them.
This has frustrated me immensly and has made me mad at myself more often than I care to think about. Why the heck has it been so hard for me to follow through?
I've been thinking about this a lot, and my conclusion is that I'm just the kind of person who doesn't like to follow routines. I need variation, and I need exercising to not feel like an obligation or some extra task that I have to fit into my schedule. I need it to come naturally.
That's why the solution for me has been to not follow one specific program or routine, but go back to the lifestyle I had when I was in my twenties, which was the French lifestyle.
I've always been a Francophile, and when I was in my teens and early twenties, I was highly influenced by my French friend, whom I met when I was 14 years old. After watching her and her mom and the way they lived, and also visiting France and really get a first-hand experience with the French lifestyle, - I started following the same routines when I came back home. (I've written an article about this before: Why I swear by the French lifestyle.)
Just to recap a little: Back then, I was physically active all the time, without even thinking about it. I had fun with friends. I ate everything I wanted to without putting on weight. I enjoyed food. I walked a lot, played with my young nieces and nephews, played badminton with family and friends in the summer, and I went everywhere on my bike, because I didn't have a car (or even a driving licence) at the time.
I was lean, strong and fit. Life was more or less stress-free. I had no heavy responsibilities in my life. Well, I had my concerns, but they were mostly manageable. I had a good life, most of the time.
But then things started to happen, and everything changed, slowly but surely. I eventually found myself in a situation where keeping up my former lifestyle became more and more difficult. So much so that over the years, I slowly fell into habits that were not at all healthy for me, and it became more and more difficult to turn things around.
I've written at length about that in earlier articles, so I won't repeat any of that here. Let me just say that after a few decades where I've been struggling with PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which lead to less physical activity and resulted in me putting on weight and slowly experiencing more and more health issues because of that, - well, it's fair to say that I've learned a lot about the connection between mental and physical health.
Well, I've known for many years now that I had to reverse this situation, and I've tried so many things in order to do just that, - like some of the activities I've mentioned above. But the results have not been significant enough to really change my life for the better. I mean: The results haven't been visible. At least not as visible as I'd like them to be. Mainly because I haven't been able to stick with the routines.
That's why I've returned to the French lifestyle, and now, very slowly, I'm beginning to see results. I've lost a few pounds and a few inches around my waist, and - best of all: I'm feeling less stressed out.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels
So what have I done?
# 1) I've gone back to incorporating exercise into my daily routines, rather than making it an extra task that I have to do, which (as mentioned above) I've never been able to stick to for more than a few weeks at the most.
# 2) I do follow some of the programs I mentioned now and then, because I really love them, and they're perfect for the kind of variation I need in my life to keep things from getting boring, - but I no longer beat myself up about not being able to stick with one program over many weeks.
# 3) I've started to enjoy my meals more, to sit down and eat and not just grab a bite "on the go".
# 4) I eat smaller portions and stop when I'm full, instead of over-eating.
# 5) I try to get enough sleep.
# 6) I drink more water.
# 7) I make sure that I take time to do things that I enjoy, like reading,
watching a movie, spend quality time with family and friends.
# 8) I listen to motivational podcasts, talk nicely to myself and remind myself that I'm good enough just the way I am.
# 9) I take time to think about the things I'm grateful for in my life.
# 10) I try to savor each moment and not constantly rush to some new thing on my "to do" list.
# 11) In fact, I try not to have a long "to do list"! Just a few things each day that I want to get done.
# 12) I have (more or less) stopped being a people-pleaser and have started
making ME a priority.
# 13) I have started to declutter my life, physically and mentally, and make more room for the things I really want.
Less attachement to things.
Less house-work and constant tidying up, which means less on my "to do" list.
More purpose to my days.
Visible (positive) changes to my body (mostly to myself so far, but I know others will notice them, too, in a little while).
The list goes on.
This has been transformational for me in so many ways.
That's why I'm on a mission to share my experiences with the French lifestyle with as many women as possible.
That's why I want to impress on you the importance of taking care of yourself first, before taking care of everyone else.
Taking care of your health is so important. And your mental health is actually the most important thing, because it will have a direct influence on your physical health as well.
So tell yourself that you are enough.
Tell yourself that you are just as important as anybody else in your life, and that you need to put YOU time on your schedule and not just make everybody else's "needs" a priority.
Tell yourself that your dreams are important.
Tell yourself that there is nothing you can't do, be or have.
Tell yourself that there's nothing you have to do. You have a choice, every single minute of every day. Do what's important to you, right there and then.
And do things that make you happy. Every single day.
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Have you ever watched the movie "Runaway Bride" with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Well, I have, and I just love that movie!
There are several reasons for why I love it so much: I love Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, I love romantic comedies, and I love that there's always something to learn from the story.
In this particular movie, I learned the importance of knowing what you want. I learned that it's important to do things because you love doing them, and not just because you want to please someone else or avoid hurting their feelings.
Still, that's very often what we end up doing: We do certain things because we don't want to look bad in someone else's eyes, even if we hate doing it or at least don't really enjoy it. Maybe you can relate?
Maybe you agree to go on a hike in the mountains even when you don't feel like it. Maybe you say yes to helping people out every time they ask, even if they never do things for you in return. Maybe you always let your friends choose the movie, even if their taste in films is very different from yours. But you never say anything because you don’t want any drama or conflict.
Being a people-pleaser
If this sounds like you, you should stop that. Seriously. It will make you ill.
"But what if the other person gets offended or hurt if I refuse to oblige them on things that are important to them? Shouldn't I just sacrifice my own needs to make that other person feel good?" you might ask.
Well, I'm not saying that there aren't occasions where we should absolutely do that. If someone is having a difficult time, maybe you can help them by putting your own feelings aside for a little while.
And sometimes we all have to compromise. But what I’m talking about is not that. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t always do that. You can’t always do what everyone else wants you to do.
We're not doing anybody any favor by being totally self-effacing. Not in the long run. We're definitly not doing ourselves any favor by it, and - believe it or not: We're actually just as important as any other person!
You see: I have first-hand experience with this. I used to be like that. More often than not, I felt that I had to say yes to things when I really wanted to say no, and it didn't make me feel happy. In the long run, I will go so far as to claim that it actually made me ill. At least it definitly wasn't healthy.
My point is: you’re not helping anyone by being a people-pleaser.
“I would never end up like this …”
Take Maggie Carpenter in the movie "Runaway Bride": She was so eager to please her boyfriend and "be a good sport", that she was willing to go along with any of his plans, whether it was leisure activities, what they should eat for dinner, - or whatever - even if she didn't really like the things he suggested.
It wasn't until her wedding day that she realized that this wasn't what she really wanted, and ended up leaving the groom at the altar - three times.
Of course, this is the extreme version of people-pleasing. You and I probably wouldn't take it that far before realizing that a relationship or a situation isn't right for us, and that we have to take our own true feelings into consideration .... Or would we??
Let me give you some examples of how I became a people-pleaser, and see if you can relate:
How do we end up as people-pleasers?
I don’t know what your childhood was like, or what you’ve experienced in life. But I grew up in the 1960s and '70s in a small town, in a Christian family. My parents were the best parents you could wish for, but they were very religious and brought me up according to their beliefs.
Because of when and where I grew up, and my family's religious beliefs, there were a lot of activities I felt I couldn’t participate in. It wasn't what was "proper".
Because I didn't want to stir up emotions or create conflict and drama, I ended up just trying to please my parents and my peers and not pursue other interests. I kept it all inside, but I felt bad about it and thought that I was probably not a "good Christian".
I felt that I should try my best to make my parents happy and just do what I thought they'd approve of. So that's what I did. I became a people-pleaser.
In addition, I’ve always hated conflict.
Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a highly developed conscience and I was always in complete agony if I did anything I shouldn't or had even the most innocent argument with my best friend.
If we had words and fell out, I would torment myself for hours with guilt, and could be seen paving the street back and forth outside my friend's house until her father told her to go outside and put me out of my misery and become friends with me again.
She told me this just recently, and I just had to laugh when I heard it, because it was quite typical for how I was back then. I never knew, though, that her father could read me so accuratly and actually told her to go out and talk to me.
Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels
So with me hating conflict and not wanting to disappoint my parents, I did a lot of people pleasing.
Not just as a child, but as an adult too
And I was like this for many, many years, even after becoming an adult.
Even when I was in my late twenties I felt guilty if I did something I thought my parents wouldn't approve of if they had known, like drinking wine or going to the movies. It was crazy!
I understood that I had to change this, because I couldn't go on living my life just to please others, - or be restricted in what I could do or not do because of some misunderstood obligation to my family or religion or someone else.
Because it was misunderstood. Nobody expected or wanted me to behave like that. It was just the little girl in me, the one who didn't want to upset or hurt anyone, that sort of sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ears all the time.
Just like Maggie Carpenter in "Runaway Bride" I had to address each issue and find out what MY opinion was. Did I think that drinking wine was a sin? No! It might not be good for me to consume large amounts of alcohol, but then I never did, so what was the problem? I decided that I liked red wine, and that it was perfectly OK for me to drink some as long as I felt that I was in control.
And did I think that going to a movie theater was a sin? No! I love watching movies, and there are so many good ones out there!
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
How always putting everyone else first is self-effacing
Little by little, I started to get out of that destructive pattern of always considering what others would think before I said or did something. I had to work hard on myself to not feel guilty about following my own heart, but I gradually got better and better at it.
But I guess it had been a part of my life for so many years and sort of had become second nature to me, that getting rid of this behavior completely was really, really hard for me. It actually went on for many, many years, - decades, actually. Even after I got married and had kids.
I just didn't feel good about drama and conflict, so I tried to avoid it by being "nice" and put an end to any discussion or bad feelings.
But over the years, it made me feel resentful towards some of the people closest to me, because this pattern of behavior told them that I would accept things if they just stood their ground, so this happened again and again.
I said yes to doing them favors or go along with whatever they wanted to do, even when I'd rather do something else. And they didn't consciously try to manipulate me, either, - they just had more confidence and didn't have any problem with doing what they wanted to do, so that's what they did, and I accepted it.
Over the years, this made me feel more and more bad about myself and my life, and - like I said - it made me feel resentful towards some of the people close to me, because I felt that things mostly went their way and not mine, and that I was somehow being manipulated, even though that was nobody's intention.
I knew that it was really up to me to teach others what I would or would not accept, and that hey couldn't possibly know what I preferred if I never spoke up about it. So of course they did what they thought was best, and never gave it a second thought as long as I never protested. So it was really my own fault.
I knew I couldn't go on like this anymore.
I felt that I had somehow lost myself over the years, and I had felt for so many years that I needed to be someone other than who I really was, in order to be accepted or liked, - even wrongfully so.
This made me feel really bad. I knew something had to change, and as time went by, I became more and more aware of that.
Photo by Ott Maidre from Pexels
A life-altering experience
Then, in 2008, something happened that made me realize this to the fullest. I won't go into details about it, but let me just say that I went on a bus journey, and during that trip I had a travel companion who was 20 years younger than me.
We had so much in common, even the same kind of humour, so we laughed and talked and I felt that I could be completely myself all the time without feeling that I embarrassed anyone with it.
When I came home from that trip, I felt different. I felt that I had become more confident about who I was, and that I was actually completely OK when I was just being ME. There was nothing wrong with me at all.
I was just different from some of the people I had around me, and I needed to let them see it if were to have the good life that I knew I should and could have. I had to start being unapologetically ME. No more excuses for that!
From then on, I started searching for ways to manage this change inside. I searched for tools that could help me navigate new waters, navigate myself into a new future where I could live in alignment with who I was.
The power of saying no
That's when I came across some books about how our thoughts create our reality, and as soon as I started reading, I knew that it was true. It resonated with something deep inside of me, something I'd always known, but kind of had forgotten about. And I realized that to live in alignment with who I truly was, I had to find out what was really important to me.
I had to be honest with myself. Dig deep and find out what it was that gave me joy. What did I truly love? What would I do if I could do anything in the whole world? And I had to learn to say NO to other people when they asked me to do things I didn't really want to do. I had to stop being a people-pleaser. Set some boundaries.
I also had to learn how to silence or shut down the negative chat-box in my head. The voice that was constantly talking myself down and taking away my confidence. Because that was something that was deeply rooted in me: My ability to excuse everybody else and beat myself up whenever there was a situation of conflict in my life.
So I did the work. I started analyzing everything in my life. I got clear on what I truly wanted and what was right for ME. And I learned that to be happy, I actually have to choose it. Happiness is a choice.
What happened after that "awakening" on the trip in 2008 is a long story. It's a process that's been going on for over a decade now, a process that has lead to big changes in my life.
The short version is that I got divorced, moved to a new town, started a new life. And my personal inner journey has continued to this day, and will probably never end.
It hasn't been easy, but I'm feeling happier, more fulfilled and more in alignment with myself than I've ever been. I know what I want. I know who I am.
I haven't managed to stop being a people-pleaser all together, - I guess that went on for so many years that it became almost second nature to me, so getting rid of it completely has been hard, - but at least I've reached a point where I correct myself quickly when I notice that I'm back on that path, and I do it with more and more success every time.
Stop being a people-pleaser and start living the life you want
Being aware of these things is a big step in the right direction, and also knowing that I don't have to please everybody else or be the one to make excuses for my opinions or my behavior all the time.
And you don't have to, either. In fact, you shouldn't. You might end up losing yourself and not knowing who you are anymore. I hope my story has convinced you of that.
You need to teach people how to treat you. Set some boundaries, and be clear about them.
You don't have to become aggressive about it. Just start showing others what you truly want, or what you can or cannot accept, and do it in a gentle way.
Find ways to show them that you're no longer willing to be treated like a door-mat.
You can do this!
If you've been a people-pleaser for a long time, you'll probably find it hard to change, but start training NOW. Little by little, you'll make it.
Learn more about living the good life in my course
If you want to know more about how you can stop being a people-pleaser and start living more in alignment with who you are and live with intention, you don't want to miss out on the FREE course that I'm currently creating.
If you want to know more about it, sign up today, and you'll be among the first to get access to more information as soon as it's ready. It won't be long now!
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January 9th 2020
I regret to say that I haven't been following up my Yoga Burn routine since last August, and I have no other excuse than the fact that I have a general problem with following up on any fixed exercise regime, because I prefer incorporating exercise in my daily routines instead.
That's something I find so much easier! I'm all for simplicity and living a healthy lifestyle that I don't have to think about all the time, because that's what feels natural to me.
That's why I swear by the French lifestyle. It's all about simplicity and joie de vivre, and that is what I want: A stress-free, simple and joyful life!
The French Lifestyle is like that. That's why I write about it so much. I believe it's something that can be life-changing for so many people - YOU included.
I will, however, let you know about any progress I make with the Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge in the future, because I haven't given up on it completely.
I do believe that if I at some point decide to take up a daily exercise routine again, in addition to my daily walking etc. - it will very likely be the Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge.
So stay tuned, and do check it out for yourself if you're interested, because it will probably do you a ton of good!
You can get it through my affilate link: Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge. This will take you to a page where you can also choose from a whole bundle of other Yoga Programs, if you want to check out what suits you best.
If you buy any of the Yoga programs through my affiliate link, I will get a small commission of your purchase, but this will be at no extra cost for you, of course.
Even though my Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge has come to an end right now, I hope you'll still follow my blog and read more about any knowledge and experience I share with you about yoga or any other activity that I believe is beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
If you want to be a part of my tribe, The Sisterhood of Female Life Designers, I'd love to see you there! When you sign up (which is totally FREE, of course!), you'll get immediate access to The Female Life Designer's Manifesto, which will help you start living your life with more intention!
You'll also get access to a closed Facebook page where you can communicate with other members of the Sisterhood of Female Life Designers and share any thoughts or questions you might have about intentional living and The French Lifestyle.
Why not join right now?
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In my previous blog post, I promised I’d come back to how French women act around food and why most of them are so slim.
You do want to know, right?
Because if you look around you in a crowd when you’re in France, it’s very unlikely that you’ll see any obese or even mildly overweight people.
Why is that?
Well, here are 8 of the reasons:
# 1) Food is a lifestyle
In France, food is seen as a pleasure and an art, not just something you eat to avoid hunger and make sure your body gets what it needs every day.
The French have a lifestyle that allows moderation and pleasure to walk hand-in-hand. It’s how they’ve been raised, and it’s how they stay healthy and live life in general.
In fact: No food is off limit for most French women. One reason is that they make sure they get enouogh exercise on a daily basis. They’re constantly on the move, making their daily routine part of their exercise. They walk everywhere, climb the stairs, and so on, - like I wrote in my previous blog post (link).
That’s why going to the gym simply isn’t something they do a lot. If they do, they seldom go more often than twice a week, and definitely not to get ripped. It’s because they’ve found an activity they enjoy, and because they know they’ll feel good afterwards.
Another reason is that deprivation, negative feelings toward food, cutting out entire food groups, or eating factory-made products, just isn’t a French woman’s style. It’s never about deprivation or absolutes. It’s about being smart with choices and quantities, and it’s about eating healthy and also exercising on a regular basis.
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# 2) They get food education from an early age
The French learn from an early age to appreciate fine food and to be proud of their nation’s food traditions. The children learn that meal times are regular, no snacking between meals, and that sweets and sugary cakes are for special occasions only.
This instills healthy eating habits from an early age.
They also learn to eat what the adults eat, and to finish what’s on their plate. This encourages them to try new foods and not be «picky» about what they eat. This is also why you don’t find any «Children’s menu» in French restaurants.
# 3) The Government supports healthy eating
Even in schools, healthy lunches are a priority in France. The French government makes a serious effort to ensure that children are getting proper nutrition. Therefor, three-course, balanced meals are the standard in school canteens, and candy-bars have been removed and replaced with fresh fruits.
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# 4) Three or four meals a day and no snacking between meals
The French normally have 3 meals a day, and generally don’t eat between these fixed meals. The 3 main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Usually the breakfast is something light, like a croissant or slice of bread with butter and jam, and a bowl of café au lait. It’s also worth noting that bread in France normally have no sugar added and is therefor usually healthier than bread types you get in many other countries.
Lunch is considered the main meal during the day, and can last up to 2 hours. It consists of several courses: Starter, main dish and dessert. Not the kind of dessert you normally think of, though, like a pudding. Dessert to a French woman normally means fresh fruit.
There’s usually no snacking between meals, but kids who arrive from school in the afternoons eat some bread with jam paired with a glass of milk. This afternoon snack is known as le goûter, according to www.talkinfrench.com .
Then there’s dinner in the evening, normally around 7:30 pm. This meal also normally consists of 3-4 courses, but can sometimes be a lighter meal than lunch.
# 5) Fresh produce – no processed food
The French stick to their traditional eating habits, and frankly: There’s a lot to learn from them. Like the fact that they generally …
The climate in France makes it possible for a wide array of high-quality ingredients to be produced. Everything is freshly picked and cooked to perfection.
This means that the French generally eat «real» unprocessed food and less low-fat, sugar-free and fat-free versions (which are often actually full of artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that are not good for you).
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Meat is often the center piece in French meals.
Vegetables – the freshest and the ripest – are carefully picked and prepared. These are then cooked into side dishes or as part of the main course.
Cheese is among the things the French can’t live without. It’s always served as a part of a meal, right after the main course and before the dessert.
Bread is common in most meals, especially breakfast and dinner. There’s a wide variety of breads in France, but the baguette is probably the one most frequently used.
Although there are several supermarkets in France, especially in larger cities, offering many imported varieties of food and ready-made meals, - the farmer’s markets are still popular. Traditional French cuisine relies on fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, and the average French person still sticks to the traditional way of preparing food.
Young people may be more open to Anglo influences and be more frequent users of the American fast-food chains that have invaded France in the last decade or so. But the traditional French eating habits live on, and you’ll probably still find most of the fast-food restaurants more or less empty between the official meal times, even though they’re more likely to have longer opening hours than French restaurants and in that way are more available to the public.
Of course, France is a popular tourist destination, and also have many citizens originating from other parts of the world, so the supermarkets and fast-food chains do serve their purpose and have their regular customers. But the average French person still prefers to do their grocery shopping at the local butcher’s, boulangerie and farmer’s market, where they get fresh food.
# 6) They take time to enjoy the food
Another healthy habit is that French people don’t eat «on the go». They sit down at a table, preferrably with family or friends, and enjoy the before-mentioned 3-course meal.
This doesn’t mean that they eat a lot, though. They generally serve smaller portions of each dish and sit longer at the table. As mentioned earlier, lunch is the most important meal in France, and can typically last up to 2 hours. This is because the French really savor the moment, enjoy the food and the company of friends and family, which naturally allows proper digestion.
They also take plenty of time between each dish, which also ensures that they know when they’re full and therefor don’t over-eat.
Because cooking is considered an art in France, and the ingredients are carefully picked, the dishes are usually full of the right nutrients that satiate hunger and maintain proper metabolism.
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# 7) They drink a lot of water
Unlike what you might think, the French often drink water with meals. But of course they do also like some red or white wine, but then they stick to one glass or two small glasses, and not a whole bottle of it. In France, you also rarely see a pint of beer or bottles of soda or other sugary drinks on the table at meals.
# 8) Eating attitude
Unlike people from many other countries, the French actually listen to their bodies when they eat, and will therefor feel when they’re full. They say, “Ca va, je n’ai plus faim” (meaning «I’m good»), and then they stop eating. Many other nationalities would stop eating only when the food is all gone, but as long as there is still food on the plate, they will continue to eat.
Those are the 8 main reasons the French women don’t diet and also generally don’t get fat.
Of course, there are no rules without exceptions, but the French lifestyle is absolutely one we could all learn from. For me, it’s the ultimate thing. Depriving myself of food that I like, or shaming myself for not going to the gym or doing heavy work-outs on a general basis, is not for me.
I’m living the French lifestyle now, and so can YOU.
I want to enjoy my life, and the general attitude of slowing down and savoring each moment, is absolutely something that appeals to me and also seems wise. I’ve had enough stress in my life, and it hasn’t done me any good.
I used to live «the French way» in my twenties, and that was the healthiest I’ve ever been. So when I found my way back to that after many years of living a different lifestyle, - a lifestyle where I was struggling with stress and putting on weight, - it was such a relief!
So how about you?
Are you sick of struggling with weight-loss and diets? Do you feel that strickt work-out regimes haven’t paid off for you? Do you feel that your life is full of stress and that you’re sort of running on a hamster’s wheel and not getting anywhere?
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If so, I really suggest that you consider adopting the French way of living.
Even if you don’t live in France, it’s not difficult at all. It’s a way of living, an attitude towards life, that you can incorporate wherever you are.
Why not start right now?
Here’s how you can do that:
Having a community of likeminded women to support you and share your thoughts with, is absolutely GOLD! And it’s FUN! So join today!
When you join, you’ll also get a downloadable version of The Female Life Designer’s Manifesto, which is a great way of getting into «the French way» of living right away!
And this is just the beginning!
If you really want to learn more about the French lifestyle, I’m on a mission to share everything I know with you and make sure we both live with as much joie de vivre as humanly possible!
We’ll study and go deep into all aspects of «the French way of living», for sure. But slowly, with ease and elegance. Effortlessly! Comme une femme francaise! I’m looking forward to getting to know you!
If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and even share this with someone else who might enjoy it, too!
Why is it that French women never seem to get fat? Have you ever wondered how they can be surrounded by all that delicious food and wine and still not put on weight? It doesn't seem fair ...!
Do they exercise like crazy at the gym every week?
Non. Absolument pas! In fact, you don't find many gyms in France compared to other countries. It hasn't been as popular with the French to "sweat out" in a gym, although there has been a certain development in this area in the last 15 years or so.
The French traditionally prefer sports, like football (soccer), tennis and cycling. Among women, I'd say tennis and walking are the more popular activities. If a French woman goes to a gym on a regular basis, she doesn't really talk about it, and she definitly wouldn't be seen on the streets in a gym outfit! Jamais de la vie!
Do they eat only green salads and deprive themselves of cakes and other delicacies?
Nope. In fact, they eat cakes with great pleasure!
So what's the secret!?
If you've ever wondered about this and want to be like those French women, I would think that you're just as eager to find out as I was ....
Well, today is the day to rejoice, because I'm on a mission to tell you everything I know about the French Lifestyle! Not just because I'm a "Francophile" who have had a fascination for everything French since my childhood, - the language, the food, the style ... the "joie de vivre" that the French are so good at ... - but because I truly believe that the French life-style can be life-changing for you, just as it's been for me.
However, telling you everything in one blog post is practically impossible, because there's so much to be said about the French way of living. The best way to really take it all in, is to digest it the way the French digest their food: Slowly, really enjoying the meal, savoring the moment. But I'll go deeper into that in a later blog post, - I promise!
Today, I'll be focusing on telling you how you can become slim and chic like a French woman without even breaking a sweat.
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So here's how you can do that:
# 1) Develop a positive body image and stop
following the trends.
This is at the top of my list for a reason. In today's world we hear and read daily about weight-loss and dieting. Magazines show us pictures of what "the perfect body" should look like, what the latest fashion trend is, and why it's a "must" for anybody who wants to be "à la mode" ...
A French woman couldn't care less about this. She knows that her worth as a woman doesn't depend on how much she weighs or whether she follows the latest fashion trends or not. She knows that the most important thing is how you feel about yourself, and that you learn how to "play with what you've got" and wear clothes that look good on YOU, in shape and color. Your clothing should bring out your best features and be of good quality.
So a French woman has a very relaxed body image. She doesn't complain about her body or comment on whether she's thin or fat. She just doesn't give it much thought. Just as the French have a positive attitude toward eating, they have a positive attitude toward the body and fitness.
And remember: less stress is one of the keys to losing weight, or at least to stop gaining more of it.
# 2) Slow down and enjoy every moment.
I won't claim that all French women are completely relaxed and never show any signs of stress. Paris in particular can be very stressful for a working woman, so I guess you may find some examples of stressed women there. But in general, French women have an attitude towards life that is very laid-back and uncomplicated, and they seem to have understood the importance of savoring each moment.
For example, they always sit down to have a meal, - or even if they only intend to have a drink. You wouldn't see a French woman walking on the street with a hamburger in one hand and a bottle of soda in the other. Jamais de la vie! She would go and sit down in a café or restaurant and take her time to really enjoy the food or her cup of coffee, or whatever she's having.
And meal-times at home are holy. You won't see a French family stand at the kitchen counter and eat "on the go". They sit down at the table and enjoy the food. Digest it slowly. Have a relaxed conversation together. And they eat small portions and stop before they're too full. They take their time to feel satisfied by the food.
And it's like that with any activity, really. French women are in the moment and not just rushing through or thinking about what's coming up next. When they're with friends, they sit down and have a real conversation. If they're doing an activity together, they engage in it.
You get the picture. There's so much to gain by adopting the French woman's way of doing things. So from this day forward, I suggest you start savoring every moment of every day. Take notice of your surroundings. Talk to people. Sit down and relax, and just BE.
And what does this have to do with becoming slim and chic?
Remember: Stress can make you gain weight, so slowing down and being more present in the moment will have a great impact on how you digest your food and the effect it will have on your body.
# 3) Incorporate exercise into every aspect of your daily routine.
Exercise is good for you. There's no doubt about that. But you don't have to spend thousands on a membership at the local gym and torture yourself through an hour-long hard work-out routine 3 times a week to get enough of it. In fact: Spending an hour at the gym may do your body more harm than good if it’s not an exercise you like, or you don’t have the right technique.
20-30 minutes of daily exercise can have a far better effect in the long run, and it's also much easier to incorporate and therefor more likely that you'll actually see it through.
So instead of going to the gym, do like the French woman: Make your daily routine an exercise. When you wake up in the morning, stretch your body a little bit. If it appeals to you and you have the time: Go for a brisk walk around the block. And if you don't have the time (because you're going to work), or you simply don't feel like it early in the morning, just incorporate more walking throughout the day.
# 4) Park further away.
If you need your car in order to get you to work on time, at least park further away and make sure you get that quick walk every morning and afternoon. If you go by public transport, get off at a different stop so you get a few minutes longer to walk.
# 5) Walk the stairs.
If you live or work in a building with several floors, walk the stairs instead of using the elevator. If there is no elevator, - so much the better! Then you don't have a choice, and you already have a certain amount of daily exercise in your life. If you don't feel that's enough, you can always walk the stairs an extra time up and down, or run them.
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# 6) Make shopping part of your exercise.
Depending on where you live, you can walk to more than one store to buy your groceries. This is not only good for your legs, but can be good for your arms, too, if you don't carry too much.
If that's what you have a tendency to do and therefor always go by car to do your grocery shopping, do it like a French woman instead: Bring a trolley bag to put the groceries in, plan your shopping beforehand and stick to your list. In this way, you get more exercise AND you prevent unhealthy shopping habits. Two good things in one, that will help you to become slim and chic like a French woman!
If there's a market where you live, buy your food there instead of going to the supermarket. Fresh food is always better, and good quality meals that are prepared from scratch are much to be preferred to ready-made meals that you just heat in the microwave. A French woman would prefer to buy her food at the market, whenever possible.
It's also much more enjoyable to have that personal contact with the vendors. Take your time and chat with them. It will be good for your social networking, your mood, your stress level and maybe even your wallet, if your friendship with a vendor happens to give you the occational discount.
# 7) Explore your neighborhood.
Of course, if you live in a big city, exploring your neighborhood is rather easy. There will always be some place you haven't seen yet. But if you're living in a smaller place, it can be a bit more challenging to find somewhere new to explore. However, it's not impossible.
Try to be creative about it, and really use your eyes when you're out and about. You might find a tiny new shop, or maybe you'll discover a path through the woods that you haven't noticed before.
Make it an adventure. And why not extend what you call your neighborhood a little bit further out of "your zone"?
If you don't normally go to the library, - do that. And walk there, or go on your bike, so you get the intended exercise. I'm sure you can think of more things along the same line.
# 8) Create an active challenge for yourself every day.
Tailor this to your everyday needs. If there's an elevator in your building, challenge yourself to walk the stairs if you normally use the elevator.
Or challenge yourself to walk for at least 10 minutes, even if you don't feel like it.
# 9) Make your household chores into an exercise.
-Do the cleaning yourself, instead of hiring someone. Try speed-cleaning a
a little bit every day to keep your home looking presentable. Give yourself
a time limit, like 10 minutes, and put on some motivational music while
you're doing it. Really go for it. Scrub, push, straighten... whatever it is
you need to get done.
- Dance or make lunges while you do the hoovering.
- Do squats when polishing or dusting legs of chairs and tables.
- Wash the toilet in an energetic way.
- Change the beds more often.
- Use your hands and arms when you prepare food, if possible, instead of
always using kitchen appliances....
... and so on. If you do this, you'll burn calories and keep your house looking great at the same time. Try to make the experience as pleasurable as possible. Put on a lovely apron or some colorful rubber gloves. You get the picture.
Little by little you'll get leaner, stronger and fitter, simply by doing your daily routines.
# 10) Make your leisure time more active.
In today's society it can really be a challenge to stay away from your mobile phone or your computer and not constantly check your social media, play games, etc., - or just lie on the sofa and binge-watch TV-series while eating potato chips or some other "goodies". Because we CAN.
A French woman wouldn't do that. She'd prefer to be active. She'd go out, meet friends, socialize, go for a stroll along the river, visit an art gallery or a museum (where she'd be walking around, of course), go to the library ... that sort of things.
Even socializing at a café, which might sound like a less active way of spending time, is - I can assure you - much better than sitting around the house and just spend time on social media. At least going to a café means that you have to get out of the house and probably walk a certain distance to get there, and you'll be spending time with real people - friends! - which will be ten times better for your overall wellbeing.
But even if you should prefer to stay at home, you'd be doing yourself a favor if you'd spend more of your time either reading a book, working on a creative project (like sewing, arts & crafts, painting...), or having a good conversation with a friend or family member, rather than just checking your social media and eating potato chips.
You don't see the difference? Well, even if all of those activities are being executed sitting down, I do believe that the kind of activities I mentioned will do your heart and soul far more good than getting bombarded with all kinds of news - good or bad - on social media, - some of which aren't even true and might just make you feel bad or inadequate, - and spending your time on more creative activities will also lower your stress level and make you feel more fulfilled.
The French woman has understood this. She'd much prefer taking an active part in something, whether it's reading a book that will stimulate her intellect or her emotions, having a conversation with another human being, or taking part in some physical or creative activity that will do her good in other ways, - rather than sitting passively around, doing nothing.
I'm not saying that "just sitting around" is a thing you should avoid at all cost. Sometimes it's absolutely necessary to relax completely and do nothing.
What I'm saying is that on a general basis, being active in some way will benefit you more, and especially if your aim is to be slim and have a stimulating and happy life together with the people you love. So I suggest that you try to make your leisure time at least a little bit more active, if sitting or lying on the sofa every night is what you tend to do at the moment.
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# 11) Dance!
This is another great way to exercise. You don't need to be a pro, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home, without anybody watching (if that's what you prefer). You can incorporate it into your domestic work, or dedicate 10 minutes to it now and then. It's up to you.
# 12) Do leg-lifts or some other exercise while
Do 12 leg-lifts while watching TV, or do a "90 degrees" challenge against a wall for a certain amount of minutes (If you don't know what that is, it means sitting in a 90 degree angle against a wall. I promise you that you'll feel the burn within a short time!). Or do the plank for 1 minute... or some other exercise.
You get the idea. There are so many things you can do while you're being passively entertained in some way or other. Find something that you find inspiring. Come up with your own unique challenge.
If you incorporate these 12 rules in your daily life, I feel confident that before you know it, you'll be slim & chic like a French woman, without even breaking a sweat!
If you want to have the 12 rules easily at hand, you can download this printable version.
And if you want to learn more about how you can live «the French way», I’ll be more than happy to teach you step by step how you can make it happen! Even if you don’t live in France, it’s not difficult at all. It’s a way of living, an attitude towards life, that you can incorporate wherever you are.
Why not start right now?
#1) Print out the 12 rules of «12 Ways You Can Become Slim & Chic Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat», and start with #1 TODAY!
# 2) Join my community of Female Life Designers!
Having a community of likeminded women to support you and share your thoughts with, is absolutely GOLD! So join today!
When you join, you’ll get a downloadable version of The Female Life Designer’s Manifesto, which is a great way of getting into «the French way» of living right away!
You'll also get access to our closed Facebook group where you can get to know other members, share your thoughts and take part in ongoing conversations, and also be a part of the show whenever I do a Facebook live, etc.
And this is just the beginning!
We will study and go deep into all aspects of living «the French lifestyle», for sure. But slowly, with ease and elegance. Effortlessly! Comme une femme francaise!
If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and share it with someone else who might enjoy it, too!
I've always been what you may call a "Francophile", which means that I've always been drawn to everything French: The language, the food, the culture, the style ... the "joie de vivre" that the French are so good at.
I don’t really know why I got this fascination to begin with. I guess I just heard the French language and fell in love with it, and then I watched some French TV-series and movies and read more about France in various books, and for some reason the French way of living just appealed to me more than anything else, and I dreamed of living there.
MY INTRODUCTION TO THE FRENCH LIFE-STYLE
And then I got a French friend. I was 14 years old at the time, and a French girl came to my hometown during the summer holidays to visit her father, who was working in Norway at the time. She came with her mother and younger brother, and by chance we met and became friends.
At 14 she already had more style than any Norwegian girl I knew (including myself). Her mother was effortlessly elegant and relaxed, and very down to earth.
They were living examples of all that I wanted to be. They were not trying to live up to anybody's expectations or pretended to be something they were not. They were just confident in their own skin and wanted everything in life to be of good quality, whether it was food, clothing or spare time activities.
I learned a lot from my French friend. I observed her and her mother in their day-to-day activities, - the way they talked, the way they conducted themselves. And I knew I wanted to be more like them.
They only stayed for 2 brief summer months, but we kept in touch through frequent letters, and this contributed greatly to my knowledge of the French language, which I'll be forever grateful for.
My longing for France didn't exactly diminish with this experience. I felt so drawn to the French lifestyle, because it seemed to be the perfect fit for me and my personality.
I waited for many years before I was able to get myself to France to see my dear friend Brigitte again and be able to breathe in the French air at last!
When I was 24, my friend was getting married and invited me to her wedding. Quelle joie! I could tell you a lot about that trip, and I'll come back to that later, but long story short: The 2 weeks I spent there rooted France firmly in my heart forever.
Going back home after that trip felt strange, as if life had just played me a trick. As much as I love my country, I felt like I had finally gotten a glimpse of Heaven, only to be rejected at the gate. The French lifestyle had gotten under my skin, and I knew I’d go back some day.
I guess my friendship with Brigitte and the atmosphere I had sucked in during my visit to her country, influenced me in such a profound way that I had gradually adopted a French attitude to life. At least the "French light" version. It had become a natural part of who I was and the way I lived.
So how exactly did I live «the French lifestyle»?
- I had a very relaxed attitude towards life.
- I had confidence in myself and my own capabilities.
- I had a positive body image.
- I enjoyed good food.
- I exercised without really thinking about it.
- I had a great social life, with lots of friends around me.
- There was plenty of fun and laughter, and social activities
like going to a café, the movies or a concert.
- I engaged in great conversations with my friends.
- I was very active.
- I engaged in activities that stimulated my intelligence (like reading).
- I engaged in creative activities, especially writing and Arts & Crafts.
- I sang in a choir and listened to music a lot.
In short: I really, really enjoyed my life!
And I was slim! Effortlessly. I didn't have to think about it at all! No dieting. No strict exercise regimes. No depriving myself of good food. No stress!
I WAS A SLIM (AND QUITE CHIC) WOMAN
When I was in my twenties, I never had to think twice about what I put into my mouth. I was always slim, n'importe quoi! I enjoyed moving my body and did a lot of walking, running, cycling, skiing, hiking, etc.
In short: I was very active. I had a flat stomach, and I was in the best shape of my life. I had no trouble finding clothes that fit me perfectly, and going shopping was fun and exciting!
I actually had a great style at that time. I knew which colors and shapes looked good on me, and I enjoyed finding clothes that not 9 out of 10 other girls were wearing.
Looking back now, to my life the way it was in my twenties, I can see that I really lived "the French way" back then.
So what happened?
Well, I guess LIFE happened. Somewhere along the way, things slowly changed. After a few wonderful and happy years back in my hometown, our group of friends dissolved. One by one we moved on.
Some went away to start a higher education; some left because they got a new job. Others left because they wanted to go back home.
Soon, I felt that it was time for me to move on, too. I wanted to go to college, like so many others.
This naturally meant a change of environment, and the next year was in many ways quite challenging for me. I went through a period where I felt very lonely and suddenly lost all confidence in myself, and other issues became more pressing than keeping up the French lifestyle.
However, things did improve. I found new friends and had a much better time, but I had in some ways lost myself along the way, and I felt that I had to try and blend in with the people around me.
This feeling got rather rooted in me, and the next years of my life was more about blending in than being true to the person I felt that I was deep inside, and it became harder for me to live the way I really wanted.
I guess I wasn't confident enough to "stand my ground", so to speak. So I blended in and tried not to provoke anyone. The "French lifestyle" sizzled away...
And after college I got a job. Met a man. Got married. Got 2 wonderful kids. In short: I had a good life in many ways, and looking back on it now, I wouldn't have been without those years. They gave me some of the best experiences in my life, first of all giving birth to and raising 2 great children, who to this very day are my pride and joy.
And all these years, I was slim. I even stayed slim after I'd given birth to 2 kids, and of course I was very pleased with that.
But then, just as I turned 40, something happened that made me gain almost 20 kilos of weight.
FROM SLIM AND CHIC TO THE NOT QUITE SO CHARMING VERSION OF ME.
So what was it that suddenly made me gain this weight?
Well, I had an accident. I got a head injury.
Now, you wouldn't immediately think that an incident like that would make me gain weight. But the fact is that the accident had physical consequences that forced me to be less active for a while, because of heavy migraine, dizziness and other symptoms.
If you want to learn more, I’ve written about it all in my article “Coming Out Of The Closet With PCS. Could You Possibly Have It Too?”
But the biggest consequence was the stress. The stress around not being able to live the way I'd always lived: Physically active and enjoying life.
Slowly, without even noticing it at first, I started putting on weight.
Have you ever experienced that, - how things slowly change over time, without you noticing it?
Well, that happened to me, and after a while, I realized that I had become overweight. Not obese, but I definitly wasn't slim anymore!
It was devastating to me! I suddenly didn't like the woman staring back at me in the mirror anymore. I started to cover myself up in baggy clothes to hide my tummy, and I didn't even realize that it just made me look even bigger.
I didn't like to be photographed anymore. I didn't like to shop for clothes. I didn't enjoy eating the way I did before.
I was constantly thinking about the fact that I had become a version of me that I didn't like. And it really, really stressed me out.
This went on for years, until I realized that I couldn't go on like that. I wanted my life back! That's when I came across several books that helped me shift my thinking.
I realized that I was good enough just the way I was, but I also learned that it was all up to me to make the changes I needed in my life.
I've written and talked quite a lot about mindset and how your thoughts create your reality, so I won't repeat that here right now. Let me just say that I started to make some changes that slowly put me back on track, back to the woman I wanted to be. And the main shift was changing my thoughts.
Many years had passed at this point, and I was no longer consciously thinking about "the French lifestyle". I just knew that I wasn't living in accordance with who I really was, anymore. And that had to change.
FINDING MY WAY BACK
I've spent almost 2 decades sort of fighting my way back to a "normal" life after the head injury. But in so many ways I've been happier this last decade than I was for quite a few years, because I learned how to shift my thinking and understood that I had to start living in accordance with who I really am again.
But for a long time, I wasn’t really sure how I could do that. I felt sort of restless and a little bit "out of place", and I wasn't quite able to establish WHY. I’ve had a vision of what I want, and I've been moving towards that, little by little, but I've been searching for MY way.
And then, suddenly, I had an epiphany:
"I have to go back to living the French lifestyle again!"
Suddenly everything fell back in place for me. My mood instantly got a boost!
I need to go back to living «the French lifestyle» again because that’s the lifestyle that has always felt natural to me and my personality. That’s the way I lived in my twenties, and that’s when I felt good in my skin and was at my healthiest in every way.
So that’s what I’m doing.
Even though I’m not living in France, I’m finding ways to live «the French lifestyle» where I am, and it’s not difficult at all.
And I want to teach other women "the French lifestyle", too. I want to teach YOU how to live "comme une francaise". Because I truly believe it can be life-changing for you, as it has been for me.
I hereby declare:
From this day forward, my focus will be on
sharing with you everything I know about
the French lifestyle,
and make sure we both live with as much "joie de vivre"
as humanly possible!
So if you want to learn more about how you can live «the French way», I’ll be more than happy to teach you step by step how you can make it happen! Even if you don’t live in France, it’s not difficult at all. It’s a way of living, an attitude towards life, that you can incorporate wherever you are.
Why not start right now?
- Sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss out on future blog posts
about the French Lifestyle!
- Make sure you don't miss out on my next blog post: "12 Ways You Can Become Slim & Chic Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat»!
- Join my community The Sisterhood of Female Life Designers on Facebook!
Having a community of likeminded women to support you
and share your thoughts with, is absolutely GOLD! So join today!
When you join, you’ll get a downloadable version of The Female Life Designer’s Manifesto, which is a great way of getting into «the French way» of living right away!
And this is just the beginning!
We will study and go deep into all aspects of living «the French lifestyle», for sure. But slowly, with ease and elegance. Effortlessly! Comme une femme francaise!
If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and share it with someone else who might enjoy it, too!
Most people don't understand that all power lies within ourselves.
I didn't, either, until about a decade ago.
But now I know. For sure.
Our lives are not just a series of accidental happenings. Our outer circumstances are built directly or indirectly, innocently and usually unknowingly, but nevertheless inevitably, by groups of inner feelings.
These inner feelings constitute our moods, and our moods can be controlled by our thoughts. Of course, sometimes we just feel something, and we can't really explain where that feeling comes from, because it doesn't seem to be based in any reason or fact, so you may argue that there was no active thought that caused the feeling to rise.
But I believe that what we feel is closely connected to some thought or inner belief that we have on a regular basis, maybe without being aware of it, and that inner belief affects our feelings. At some point, tiny seeds have been planted in our minds, by our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders or other people around us - or by ourselves - and these seeds grow in our subconscious and become beliefs.
Our acts spring from these secret seeds that we have planted or allowed to be planted. Our subconscious mind is - like I've mentioned here on my blog before - like a very powerful cannon. But this cannon is not like a regular cannon. It's constructed on the principle of a boomerang, which means that every "shot" (or thought or word) fired from it, comes back to us.
And it doesn't come back alone. It returns filled with results, realities, actual occurences. Whether these realities are destructive or constructive, what you want or what you don't want, depends completely on which direction you keep your "cannon" (your thoughts, your words) directed most of the time.
That's why it's so important to be aware of your dominant thoughts and be careful about which words you speak.
Because you give power to the thoughts you keep thinking on a regular basis, and to the words you keep saying over and over again. They affect your mood, your inner feelings, your beliefs.
So if your thoughts and words are mostly about worries that you have, I believe that what you will experience in your life will most likely be the things you most worry about. In fact, this is not just something I believe. I have experienced it, over and over and over again in my own life. Until I understood what I was doing, and started to change my thoughts.
Because, just as your anxious or negative thoughts affect your outer circumstances, so do your constructive and positive thoughts. If you build up a constructive mood, your inner forces are directed toward what you want, and if you keep this mood and make sure it becomes your overall feeling, nothing on earth can prevent you from eventually getting what you want or something better.
So control your mind. Be aware of your thoughts. But bear in mind that it's not so much what you say, do or pretend that will get you what you want. It's what you FEEL.
Whatever keeps bubbling up in your life on a constant basis is the fruit of the feelings you've entertained in your subconscious over a long period of time.
You are the master of your own life. But you need to recognize this responsibility as your own and stop blaming your circumstances or other people or "life happenings".
If it's difficult for you to see this, that your outer world, your life as a whole and the sum total of your experiences are the massed result of your own moods or feelings - just leave it alone for a while. Let it rest. Let the thought mature on you.
But just for the fun of it: Take a look back at your life, or take at look at the life of someone you know, and reflect on what your situation or their situation looks like, and what seems to have been the general attitude in yourself or that other person over a period of time, which may have given the results that you see.
That's all for now. I'll see you soon.
If you liked this blog post, feel free to comment below or share it with someone else. Thank you!
Illustration photo by Flickr.
I've decided that it's time. After more or less 18 years of not talking about it, I need to come out of the closet and say it out loud: I suffer from PCS.
Never heard about it? I'm not surprised. I hadn't heard about it, either, until a doctor diagnosed me with it back in 2003. I'd known for a long time (more than 2 years) that there was something wrong with me, and I'd been telling my GP (General Practitioner Doctor) my theory about it, but I felt that he didn't believe me. In fact: Many doctors know very little about this, and my GP at the time obviously didn't.
I'm not writing this blog post to bring shame upon anyone, but after my own personal experiences with PCS, I think it's time to shine some light upon this invisible injury, which is more common than you'd think, and which a lot of people suffer from, especially many athletes. But people with PCS often keep silent about their illness because they feel they're not being taken seriously or even believed. That's why I've kept silent about it, too. That doesn't make it go away, though.
So let me tell you my story:
Back in March 2001, I had applied for a vacant job at the local municipality office after having worked from home for 7 years. It was a part-time job (60 %).
Just before I was going to start that job, I had an accident. I hit my head very hard against a bookshelf in my son's room one day, and I had a constant headache for 2 days. I didn't call any doctor, though, because I didn't want to bother anyone or "complain" (guess I'm a typical woman!) and I thought it would pass. So I started that job, despite the headache, because I thought if I started off with a sick-leave, I'd lose the job right away, so I tried to hang in there as best I could.
Only the pain didn't pass. Well, it got better, but I was dizzy and also had other strange symptoms, like feeling completely exhausted just by walking up one flight of stairs, and I had migraine with "aura" almost every day, - so after a couple of days I finally went to see a doctor (not my usual GP). He examined me, but couldn't find anything wrong. He did, however, say that I should probably take it easy for a few days and asked me if I needed a sick note. I was reluctant at first and said "no, thank you", - but it didn't take long before I had to go back to the doctor and ask him to write that sick note anyways, and so I was on sick-leave for 2 weeks.
That was just the beginning.
Let me just cut a long story short and say that I was in and out of that doctor's office more times than I care to remember, and I felt more and more like I was regarded a hypochondriac each time I went there, because the doctor couldn't find any physical evidence of my illness. I felt more and more that he didn't quite believe that there was anything wrong with me at all, even though I'd told him about what happened when I hit my head and I'd described my symptoms and told him over and over again that they had to be connected to my injury, because it all started then and I'd never had any such symptoms in all my life before that.
It wasn't until 2 years later that I finally got diagnosed. My GP had sent me to the local hospital to have some tests done over a couple of days, which meant that I had to be admitted, and during that hospital stay, after having been interviewed by the doctors and told them my story, one of the doctors came to me one day and gave me a Medical Journal with an article that he wanted me to read. "See if this describes what you're going through..." he said, as he handed it over to me.
Post Concussion Syndrome
The article turned out to be about something I'd never heard about before: Post Concussion Syndrome, but which I immediately recognized. (I won't explain in detail here, but you can read all about PCS here). When I read the article, everything fell into place. It was as if it was written about me personally. And the doctor told me that he'd had a similar experience as mine when he was younger. He'd fallen into a river and hit his head on a rock, and he got a severe concussion and suffered from it for many years afterwards. Post Concussion Syndrome really means "long-time effect from a severe concussion", - or to quote the Concussion Legacy Foundation: "Post-Concussion Syndrome, or PCS, is the persistence of concussion symptoms beyond the normal course of recovery" - and there was really no doubt: That was exactly what I was going through.
It was such a relief to finally meet someone who understood what I was struggling with, and who could give me some answers! I asked the doctor if this was something I would have to struggle with for the rest of my life, or if there was anything at all I could do to heal myself. He said there was a chance that I could get well eventually, but that I most likely would have the symptoms for many years to come. He advised me to read more about it on the Internet when I got home from the hospital, and said that I should try to avoid all kinds of stress, mental and physical, and that I would probably need to rest a lot. If I managed to do that, he had good hopes for me, but couldn't make any promises.
It turned out that I was in one of the categories of people who were most likely to develop PCS and have symptoms for a long period of time. I'm a woman, I was in my 40s when I got the injury, and I'd had several head injuries and concussions as a child. For your information, I had at least 3 incidences of concussion in my childhood, - on one occasion I had to stay home from school for a whole week. I also had what they call "petit mal" epilepsy for a few years in my childhood, where I had "black-outs" and didn't know what was going on around me. Luckily, I "grew out of" that, but all these things probably made me especially vulnerable to PCS, and is probably part of the reason why I still have it.
Symptoms of PCS
If you suffer from symptoms that no doctor has managed to diagnose, maybe you have PCS, too. These are some of the symptoms:
Headache / Migraine, often with "aura" (eyesight disturbances)
Flushing of cheeks
Temperature control issues
Visual convergence insufficiency
Shortness of breath
Frequent toilet visits / need to urinate
Increased intolerance with alcohol
I've suffered from most of these symptoms, especially during the first few years. Some still linger on, but I'm better. When I'm allowed to set my own agenda, I can live more or less like normal, but if I have to be in an ordinary job, I seldom last long before I'm back on a sick-leave.
How serious is PCS?
Well, to quote the Concussion Legacy Foundation:
"Post-Concussion Syndrome can be extremely disruptive to a patient’s life. In addition to having to constantly manage concussion symptoms, which can intensify with normal activity, long-term PCS patients often have to restructure their lives to avoid activities and situations that cause symptoms to worsen. For children, this can mean extended absences from school and removal from sports and extra-curricular activities. In severe cases, it may be necessary for a child to repeat a grade. In adults, PCS can seriously impact a patients’ personal and professional life, interfere with family life, as well as the ability to focus, communicate, and be effective at work."
I can confirm that. I've had to restructure my life somewhat significantly after I got PCS, and the fact that this is invisible to everyone else and therefore something other people seem to find hard to accept even exists in my life and is a real problem, - I've learned to keep my mouth shut about it and I just try to live my life as close to normal as possible. The fact that many doctors know so extremely little about it, too, doesn't make it easier. It's hard to convince others to believe in something they can't see. That's why I've sometimes considered buying a pair of crutches or putting a bandage around my head, - like so many other PCS patients. I quote: "PCS is an invisible injury, and many patients often wish they had a more visible injury requiring crutches or a cast so that they would receive more respect" (quoted from the Concussion Legacy Foundation's website).
No specific treatment, but there are options
There's no medical cure for PCS, as you can see if you read more about it (here), and no particular physical treatment. But there are some options, depending on what your exact symptoms are, and there are things you can do to try and keep it from getting worse. I've tried to follow the advise I got from the doctor who diagnosed me. Basically, I've had to try to avoid stress (which has been extremely difficult, since I've had to work, and life has presented a lot of challenges along the way...). One of the symptoms of PCS is fatigue, so there's been a lot of things I always enjoyed doing before, that I just stopped doing for many years because I felt completely exhausted. Dizziness and migraine with "aura" (sight-disturbances) also made me sort of afraid of even going for a walk alone, - something I used to enjoy earlier.
Less physical activity, combined with a lot of stress, resulted in me putting on almost 20 kilos of weight. For a person who's been lean and strong and never heavier than 60 kilos all my life up until that point, putting on that much weight and losing my slim figure was really depressing. I felt less attractive, and the fact that I felt constantly tired and didn't have the energy to do things together with my kids the way I used to, also made me feel like a "bad Mom". The effect PCS had on my relationship with my husband, is also part of the picture. I didn't have the energy I used to have before, neither to be physical intimate nor to go hiking in the mountains with him and that was bad enough, but I even struggled with doing household chores like cleaning floors, because I got so exhausted, so my husband had to do more of these things now. But the most frustrating thing was the feeling of not being taken seriously with my illness and the actual challenges I had because of it. As time went by, I felt that both my husband and other people didn't quite believe that PCS was real, and that I was just making excuses to avoid working or doing things I didn't want to do. It made me really sad and frustrated.
I had to change my life
It came to a point where I just couldn't live like that anymore. I wanted my life back! And I understood more and more that I had to stop putting everybody else first and start living more in alignment with who I am and what I need. I had to start looking after me for a change.
So after years of struggling my lonely battle with PCS, - after being on sick-leave long-term, then going through a rehabilitation period where I managed to get some financial support to educate myself as an interior decorator, then going through a work-practice period, then starting my own creative business which I kept going for 2 years while at the same time working as a substitute teacher.... (!) (you may breathe now!) - yes, I did all of this despite the fact that I knew that I had PCS and really shouldn't be having all that stress in my life. But I was the only one who really understood that, and I felt that nobody believed me. So I kept quiet and kept going. But after some years, I realized that I had to make some big changes in my life. I just couldn't keep going the way I did. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. My marriage wasn't working well. I felt that - apart from the constant love and support from my wonderful kids - I was completely alone with my struggles, and had no support. So what should I do?
To cut a long story short: After some time where I really tried to make the best out of the situation and I made a serious effort to think positive thoughts and try to make everything work (my health, my work situation, my marriage...), I realized I couldn't keep it up. So I made some tough decisions and sort of started my life from scratch again. Without going into any details right here, let me just say that I did what was necessary for me at that point, and part of that was divorcing my husband and moving to a new town.
I struggled for quite a few years financially, with only part-time jobs or vacancies available and also a long period of unemployment, - but I found ways to cope and never gave up on my dreams of a better life for myself. I worked for several years as a coach for unemployed people, and then, 4 years ago, I got a job as a social worker for refugees, which was a permanent job.
I was happy to get that job after quite a few years of only part-time jobs available, because I needed it to get a more balanced economy after the divorce, - but I've always known that being someone's employee was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be my own boss, and I did everything in my power to make that happen. Why? Because I was struggling with my health, and I knew that having to rely on an employer or maybe even social security to keep my head above water, was not something I could live with much longer. It would only make my PCS worse. I just had to find a better way to support myself.
I'm still struggling with my health, so I really need to make this online business work. It's early days yet, but I believe I'll be fine. I trust in myself and in God (or the Universe)
How can you help someone with PCS?
Again, I'd like to share a quote from the Concussion Legacy Foundation's website:
"Family and friends of a patient suffering from PCS can help by recognizing that PCS is a serious condition, and being understanding and supportive if the patient needs to socialize differently. A person with PCS may no longer be able to handle the noise or crowds of a party, but they still need to spend social time with friends, so offer a movie night or just pay them a visit and talk. Other situations may bring on more severe symptoms, so expect someone with PCS to sometimes remove themselves from a loud, bright, crowded, or otherwise over-stimulating situation. Instead of questioning if their headache is really that bad, a supportive friend will offer encouragement and remind their friend that they’ll be ready to continue their activity when they’re feeling better."
I realize that I probably should've informed work-colleagues and friends earlier about my invisible injury and the challenges I have on a regular basis because of it. But bad experiences when doing so in the past, has kept me from it. I'm tired of being mistrusted, misunderstood and not taken seriously when I talk about what I'm struggling with, like insomnia, fatigue, noise- and light-sensitivity, - among many other things. And I don't really want to focus on it, either. I want to focus on getting my life back to normal and being well. No one wants to listen to someone who always talks about illness and problems, and I don't, either. So I don't want to be that person, and I try to avoid it. But when people notice that I withdraw from social gatherings, at work or in private, they might think that I don't want to spend time with them, so I guess some explanations are in order.
Well, at least I've come out of the closet with this blog post, and I want to contribute to more awareness around this topic, but not in a "problem-focused" way. I'm writing this from a positive perspective, to (hopefully) help others who might suffer from PCS without knowing that that's what it is, and to help them and their immediate circle of people understand better what's going on and maybe find ways to improve their life.
I've decided to reach out a hand to other women who suffer from PCS and who are forced to leave their regular job because their illness makes it too hard to cope with it. I want to support women with PCS who try to find ways to work from home or start an online business in order to be able to support themselves, and who don't get any financial support elsewhere because nobody believes in their illness. Because I know what that's like. That's why I've created The Female Abundance Fund where you can donate money for this purpose, and where female PCS entrepreneurs eventually can apply for fundings. 10 % of all the products I sell through my online store will also go into this fund.
Since the fund has just been started, it will take some time before I can open it up for applications, but if you donate $1 (or more) and spread the word about The Female Abundance Fund to others, this might happen sooner than we think! So follow this link or go to my Store right now and give your donation! Thank you so much!
If you suffer from PCS, or suspect that you might do, you're more than welcome to contact me. Leave a comment below or send me a message through my "Contact Me" form, and I'll answer back A.S.A.P. And if you know of someone else who might want to read this blog-post, please share. Thank you for your time!