Archive | August 2013

I can see clearly now…

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It’s pretty boring here. If you’re looking for a fail, or a monumental struggle, you’re in the wrong spot.

My clothing diet has continued with relentless success. Some might say I have got into the habit of not buying. Perhaps. A friend did say, “Oh, you’re doing your thing.” My thing being not shopping.

And the benefits that have come from my thing (beyond the extra money)?

  • My wardrobes and cupboards are tidier and more organised, so I can see what I want more easily. I have only had one pull-everything-out-and-toss-everything-on-the-floor episode in the past few months. Looking for a particular shirt that was hiding, don’t you know. But generally I have been amazed at how tidy my cupboards and wardrobes have remained. Makes getting dressed so much easier in the work day morning.
  • I can see what clothes I need and really want; I can see the gaps in my wardrobe. I now know I could do with a few crossover tops with mid-length sleeves. They are flattering on me and a couple more would extend the wearing of my certain skirts and pants. But, never fear, I will wait until next year, unless I see one that really hits the mark. I have no desire to go mad and shop till I drop.
  • My bedroom floor is tidier as I have room in my cupboard and fewer items “resting”. (You know resting? Too dirty to go back in the cupboard but too clean for a wash. Well that’s the argument used for one too lazy to tidy and with no room to put the clothes away.) And I can see straight under my bed and to the other side!!! There are no storage containers with out of season clothes.
  • I now know one new item can lift a host of old clothes. I bought a pair of shoes a few months back (medically necessary – they were flats for work because of my bad back) and the difference they are making to some clothes is remarkable. I have created whole new outfits around the shoes. I am wearing clothes that I haven’t worn for years and I am wearing ditems together that I previously didn’t. The new shoes just lift the whole look. And it isn’t just me. Others have commented on how good the outfits are, asking if they are new clothes or if I have a new look. And a friend wanted to go out and buy the same shoes. Such is the power of buying the perfect pair of shoes – different, daring, comfortable, perfect fit. And not buying something on a whim or because you “need” to buy something and “these will do”.
  • On the whole, this is proving a positive and easy challenge. Less stuff coming in the house, more stuff going out. My house is definitely getting leaner. (And there is less packaging coming into the house, so I don’t have to worry about all the fancy shopping bags that I never felt I could toss, but that’s a whole other story.)

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    Sorry I missed your birthday

    One of my idiosyncrasies is I am always late sending birthday greetings. If at all. I think about the family member or friend’s birthday, often even buy the card or gift. Just don’t get around to posting on time, or at all.

    A way to describe that with less spin is that I am careless and don’t think enough about others. Bad friend. Ow, that hurts.

    Anyway, true to form I missed my blog’s birthday.

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    Originally this was an experiment in blogging. Just to see what was involved and if I could do it.

    Then I thought I would use it as a journal about getting healthy and fit.

    I set some goals:

    Sleep
    1. Don’t fall asleep on the lounge.
    2. Get ready for bed before relaxing on the lounge.
    3. Get 7 hours sleep a night.

    Fitness
    1. Walk 45 minutes four times a week.
    2. Pilates once a week.
    3. Strong Women routine twice a week.

    Food
    1. Drink 1 litre of water a day.
    2. Eat 3 serves of fruit a day.
    3. Cut out white bread during week.
    4. Limit processed, non-food food stuffs.

    Treatments to protect my back
    1. Osteopath twice a term.
    2. Massage once a term.

    Continuing to work on them. A lifetime of bad habits can’t be cured in a year, can they? Really, I wanted to return to my beautiful slimness. But even if I did, I know I can’t recapture the beauty of being young. Still, I am more conscious of needing to make healthy choices. Something I didn’t really does a younger me; taking for granted my health, my consistent slim body and my strength.

    While I’m not leaner, my house is definitely leaner. All that tossing and sorting.

    And I have learnt that online friends can be just as supportive, funny, warm and plain good fun as IRL friends. That’s been a big change of thinking for me. (“Get out and see your real friends,” I used to think. Well, you can do that as well as talk with, and catch up on the doings, of e-friends.)

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    Filing cabinets – organising & decluttering

    I read once that you only put pieces of paper in a filing cabinet if you never want to read the information on them again.

    As evidence may I present my HSC Modern History notes.

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    Pages and pages of neat notes on Weimar Germany, World War One and Twentieth Century China. Never read since I sat my HSC exams in 198…mumble, mumble.

    So why have they been moved through three different filing cabinets, and five houses and a couple of storage cubicles?

    Because once placed in a hanging file, there they live, undisturbed for many, many years.

    (And if the response of my husband is any guide, once they pass the test of time, they become valuable in their own right. “Keep them,” he says. “It’s nice to know you have them.” And the logic of that is that he never knew I had these notes. OK, there is no logic. But his sentimental attachment to things we have had for years, even if they are useless or worthless or forgotten, is an illness.)

    So the only way to organise a full filing cabinet is to do a lot of this:

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    It is difficult to sort over-stuffed drawers filled with over-stuffed hanging files.

    No point organising paperwork until there is room. And really most of it becomes useless and space-wasters. (Greater thought before putting something in the filing cabinet would have avoided the problem – actually not just stuffing Manila folders full of multiple copies of things would help too.)

    More to do, but I am happy with my afternoon’s efforts.

    How did you go attacking your filing cabinet, Jo?

    I know this wasn’t rubbish a few years ago.

    I have been through a few cupboards, in the laundry, bathroom and junkish (see it is not totally a junk room anymore) room, and my filing cabinet in the junkish room.

    Looking at the things I weeded out, I can only wonder: why did I keep that? Why did I store this? This can only be destined for the bin!

    Yet I know that there was a purpose in placing this item in a hanging file; in storing that item in a cupboard; in carefully placing another item in a container and placing that container in a cupboard.

    How can I see the treasure among the trash? How can I honour things that are worthy, that have significant memories, if they are surrounded by rubbish?

    Well, many of the things I kept for future craft work, like make my own cards (not that I do craft, but, you know, just in case I decided to start).

    I am a great keeper of printed material from inservices and conferences or torn from magazines for future ideas. Yet I never use them, preferring to get more up-to-date material from Mr Google.

    Then there is packaging in case I want to sell or move items. Mmmm. Can’t justify my thinking here. And how many shopping bags does one family need?

    Other odds and sods, like rechargers, scraps of wrapping paper, I kept in case I needed them in the future.

    Some items were damaged, but I thought that maybe they were good enough for family use, like towels that are fraying, thin and as stiff as cardboard. Or a table cloth with mould stains (from being left out on an outdoor table for too long). Yet, why use things that make you feel bad when you have plenty of nice things?

    Out, out, out damn spot.

    The result.

    Piles of paper have gone into the recycling bin. And, happily, I have been able to toss dozens of hanging files. Some material has been donated to colleagues who actually need the material now. Leaving a whole drawer to store stationery. (Which will be sorted in the near future.)

    My bathroom cupboard is looking a little less cluttered. Not as lean and organised as I would like but it is on the way!

    Other drawers look full but not messy.

    With old towels donated to an animal shelter, I have emptied a whole shelf in a line press, meaning I can move the towels that were stored on a bench on the laundry, leaving the bench top empty.

    I won’t bore you with photos of all that was decluttered but a few will prove thae madness of hanging onto rubbish.

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    Lifting the spirits

    I am feeling very sad. It hits me in waves.

    I have been sad before. (And for my mother who has discovered my site, it is not a competition. The one I have lost is not more loved, nor more important, but the pain is now and the loss all the more poignant because it was unexpected.)

    So on checking who had viewed my blog (even though I don’t feel like blogging) I found someone had clicked on a linked from Jo.

    I clicked on the link from which the visitor (was it you?) had come. And re-read Jo’s post. And I felt a bit lighter.

    Funny, I know. But a comment from a person only known online has eased the pain. It made me feel I am a better person.

    (Oh, all the emails, calls, cards, gifts, personal approaches, food have been appreciated too. And lifted my spirits. But Jo’s gentle humour and appreciation of my glamour, did you get that? GLAMOUR!!! made me feel better.)

    No, this blog wasn’t meant to be about world issues, or life’s downs, or even about achieving world peace! Anyway, I will post more about decluttering, and organising, and my journey to a more gorgeous life soon.

    I might even share with you my household routine, to follow Jo’s example.

    But it’s still good…

    We all know that we shouldn’t hang onto cosmetics for years. They go off; the oil goes rancid. Bacteria and other nasties grow on the products, risking damage to eyes, skin, lips. And beyond the health risk, colours date or no longer suit.

    Confession time: I hang onto my products, especially lippy and eye shadow, for years. “But they’re still good,” I tell myself. If they smell or the lipstick tastes nasty, I throw them out. But otherwise, I like to have a range of colours, for different events and outfits. And there is generally so much of the product left. Why buy another, when I still have several at home? So the frugal me won’t toss them.

    I am good when it comes to foundation and mascara. One product in use. When it runs out, I buy a new product.

    But if I want my decluttered bathroom, I need to review my practices about hanging onto makeup.

    So out goes two lipsticks (one with a missing lid), a lipstick box, a lip gloss and a liquid eyeshadow.

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    I will have another look at unneeded, unloved, unused products cluttering the under sink cupboard. I know there is more hiding in the mess.

    Minimalist bathroom

    I want a bathroom like this:

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    Or this:

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    The clean lines of Art Deco appeals to me. But where do they put all their stuff?

    I know these photos have been styled. Look closely at the one above and you can see they don’t even have anything on the shower caddy. And a close up of the basin reveals they have no potions and lotions but have a magazine/brochure rack on the side, so possibly this was for a show room?

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    Still these pedestal basins have no room for things in daily use, let alone those things one hangs onto just in case (eg my hair dryer and straightener that I rarely use) or the things used occasionally (like face masks) or the samples and little sized shampoo from hotels or the refills for razors or the stuff to replace something that cannot be left for the next shopping trip when the current one runs out (like toilet paper and toothpaste).

    This one doesn’t even have room for a toothbrush.

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    And this one has a shelf below but without a cupboard you can’t hide your mess.

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    Love the tiles in this one. No cupboard again!

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    They are beautiful, aren’t they?

    And motivation for decluttering. So out go the Velcro rollers I never use and other assorted stuff – rubbish really, don’t know why I held onto any of it. An empty lipstick box, instructions on a piece of cardboard for a hair thing I tossed as it never worked on my hair, pre-waxing wipes for a waxing set that I tossed as I don’t wax, and a toiletries bag that is an awkward size and shape to use.

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    Think I will go back and be even more ruthless.

    Another round of exercises from my exercise physiologist

    Went back to the exercise physiologist for my fortnightly review. I passed one test: my backside muscles have switched on! I know, I am so excited.

    “Engage your muscle!” she says. Like muscles can be turned on or off! I bend, I move. The muscles that need to do the task, do so. Or not. In the latter case, if the muscles can’t work, I can’t move the desired way.

    But apparently one can turn on certain muscles. And apparently other muscles can do the job of those muscles that switch off, so you can move but you are using the wrong muscles.

    My exercise goal: to switch on the backside muscles so they do the work that currently the muscles of my quads and lower back are doing. See, it’s that compensation going on again. Compensating for poor action thereby causing further problems.

    When I did one particular exercise, “Well, hallo!” Muscles in my backside made themselves known.

    This was the exercise:
    One leg mini squat

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    To help get correct form, ie maintaining level hips and knee moving directly over your foot without collapsing inward, tie a resistance band around your knees and keep the band tight by pushing your knees out. Then bend one leg and lift it a little. Use the back of a chair to keep balance, push your bottom behind, engage your stomach and and squat. Start with only a small movement and make sure your hips stay level, don’t let one drop down. Don’t allow your knee to move forwards past your toes.

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    I do three lots of 10.

    I have also had another exercise added. Haven’t found it as resulting in as big an impact, and I do have to be careful that I don’t hurt my back. Apparently this one is a functional exercises, mimicking everyday movements. The exercise is:

    Dead lift.
    Stand with your feet slightly closer than shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, or “soft.” Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back. Bend your torso forward slowly, sticking your butt out, like you are about to sit on a chair. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back flat through the entire movement. Squat slowly. Keep your shins straight, so your knees are not moving forward. When down you push up through your heels quickly, so you rise up to the starting position with a bit of power. When you master the move, add some dumb-bell weights.

    Again, I am doing three lots of 10 these.
    Sort of like this:

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    Or this:

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    I am still doing 3 lots of 30 of heel taps, from Round 3.

    Looking after your back – Sitting right at the office!

    My mother use to say, “Don’t sit on your legs. It will give you varicose veins.”

    Turns out I was right. It doesn’t. But I wished I’d followed my mother’s advice. My poor sitting technique has contributed to my bad back. And we all know how hard bad habits are to replace, even if you know those habits contribute to pain and illness.

    As each episode of back pain returns, it is lasting longer. And I am taking longer to recover. So here is what I am doing to help avoid back pain. Hope it helps someone.

    The thing that is having the biggest impact is changing how I sit, especially at work. I have had a Work, Health and Safety Officer evaluate my chair, desk and work practices. I would have laughed a few years ago (What you need someone to tell you how to sit? Oh the arrogance of youth!) but the advice has been fantastic. OK, OK, it’s the same thing as my osteopath and my chiropractor and my massage therapist and my mother have said. And stuff I knew anyway, but now I am prepared to listen to, and heed, the advice.

    1. No tucking your legs under yourself. Turns out this twists your body and because you tend to do it in one direction, you cause all sorts of tension and compensation!

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    2. No sitting for extended time. This is a biggie. Do whatever you can to ensure you move at least every 20 minutes: Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to get up. Install a widget on your work computer that pops up little reminders during the day. You can get it here: Sit Right. It says things like “Walk to your office door” or “How about doing some stretches.” Stand when talking on the phone. Ask people if they mind if you walk together somewhere, eg the office kitchen or just down the corridor, while you talk.

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    3. Adjust your work station so you can sit up “straight” (like your mother told you).
    OK, this is a continuation of the first point. But that first point was a particular problem with me. I thought it was comfortable. Turns out is was causing discomfort and I had to return to the legs under position to ease the asymmetry I had caused in my hips by sitting like that. So what is sitting up straight? It is not hunching! And not leaning forward! And not having your hips and knees at angles less than 90°!

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    My WHS Officer moved my mouse forward, raised my monitor, moved my phone closer. All only slight adjustments, but they made a big impact on how I had to reach and the stress put on my back. But the biggest change was having the chair at the right height. I now know to raise and lower my chair for computer use or desk use, so that I can sit up straight and not be hunched. For years I have kept the chair at the one height! I thought leaning forward was how you worked when reading and writing. Here’s a good checklist:

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    Good thing about that Sit Right widget is, it also offers reminders about the way you sit! “Are your hips, knees and elbows at open angles? Adjust them now.”

    4. Let the chair do its job. I really love this bit of advice! Do you perch on the front edge of chair, because you “know” you have to hop up shortly? But then that shortly turns into a long time. Do you sit in the chair but don’t use the back rest? Well, your back shouldn’t be doing all this work. Adjust the chair so the back rest supports your lower back, and the seat is st the right height. Then sit into it and let the chair hug you. You will feel your back release when you let the chair do its job of supporting you.

    5. Don’t cradle the phone in your neck. Come on! Enough said.

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    6. Don’t twist. When I had people to see, but they needed information that I had on my computer, I would face them but twist to read my monitor. Now I say, “Sorry, I have to look at the monitor.” And move my whole body to face the monitor. Same with the phone. I would answer it and twist my body to view the monitor. Dreadfully multi-tasking!

    If you’re young, you probably haven’t kept reading until here. You probably thought, “Old age, not me, nag, nag, stuff and junk and this and things”. But if you have a sedentary job, don’t wait until pain forces you to sit right. And if you suffer from a back pain and work in an office, I hope some of this helps. It is helping me.

    Sources/disclaimer: I am not a chiropractor and am not sponsored by a chiropractor. The Sit Right widget was recommended by the chiropractic practice I attend. The widget and all the images I have used on this post come from this site of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia.

    What’s my challenge?

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    I have been so focused on work and Dry July that I haven’t thought through a new challenge.

    Yes, I had a glass of red tonight. Savoured it. And then, in an act of decadence, followed the glass with a bubble bath.

    Mmmm. What to do? What to do?

    Think I will review how I am going on:

  • Drinking water.
  • Getting to bed at a decent time, without falling asleep on the lounge.
  • Walking four times a week.
  • Doing the exercises set by the exercise physiologist.
  • Eating two pieces of fruit a day.
  • Restarting my version of the Strong Women exercises.
  • Doing things that Dr John advises for emotional well being: laughter, hugging, something for someone else or being nice to someone, spending time with friends, doing things you enjoy.
  • And of course, I am still decluttering one item a day. And not buying any clothes.

    We all need to refocus now and again to stop good habits sliding.