How much of your time, and headspace, is taken up thinking about what to wear, and what to eat? Do these decisions overwhelm you at times? Do you have too much choice, or not enough choice? Do you procrastinate about food or clothes, yet still feel you made the wrong decision in the end? If so, please read on.
I had the absolute pleasure to meet Cathy Houghton (Women’s Health & Food Coach) recently and we have pulled together our best ideas on how to make these key everyday decisions a little easier.
Whilst food and clothing dilemmas may seem completely unrelated – actually how we deal with them are incredibly similar. Make progress in one of these areas and be pleasantly surprised at the impact on the other.
HAVE A CUPBOARD CLEAR-OUT
Kerrie – are you someone who wears 20% of your clothes 80% of the time? You’re not alone! Yet it can leave you feeling overwhelmed with too many choices each morning. Having a good wardrobe clear-out can be hugely therapeutic, so why not seriously evaluate what you have hanging in your wardrobe. With each item, ask yourself: when you last wore it (if it’s over 12 months ago maybe it’s time
to let it go, unless it’s a special occasion item), whether you enjoy wearing it, whether you feel confident/good in it, whether it’s in a colour and style that suits you, and whether it goes with at least 3 other things in your wardrobe. If you answered no to any of these why not pass it on to someone who can enjoy it and get more wear out of it. I bet you won’t miss it!
Cathy – I wonder if you have foods in your cupboards out of date, or will never be eaten? Are your kitchen cupboards cluttered, disorganised, perhaps even could do with a scrub?! Do you dread opening some of them? I know it can feel like a mammoth task to start a clear-out. But it feels SO good
afterwards, really positive, and you will reap the benefits for months to come. If you can’t face doing it all in one go, how about aiming for a cupboard or drawer a week? Whilst minimising food waste is a priority, we need to balance this out against food safety, nutritional benefits, and helpful kitchen space. From my clients it is usually herbs and spices that clock up the oldest use-by date! For in-date items, please
find your nearest foodbank/community larder.
THEN – REORGANISE!
Kerrie – there are many ways to organise your wardrobe so that you can clearly see what you have and create outfits more easily each morning. I personally like to group things into categories (short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, skirts, trousers etc.) and then order them in colour order from the lightest to the darkest. This makes it easier to see the possible outfit options and so you are likely to wear more of your clothes than when everything is jumbled together in no particular order. If you like to differentiate between your work and home wardrobes then you can do so, still using the same principles. Oh, and the more you see something, the more you are likely to wear it, so if possible hang most of your
clothes and have your accessories (scarves, jewellery, belts etc) visible.
Cathy – As you sort and clean, be thinking about how to get your kitchen to work best for you. Maybe
you need to move things around, pair items in different ways? If wanting healthier eating/weight loss, then numerous studies have shown keeping temptations out of sight, in difficult to reach places, WORKS. And likewise keep handy what you feel is enjoyable, helpful food.
Food variety is a key to healthy eating, yet needs to be balanced with kitchen space and ease. Try to think about variety within the healthier, ‘bulk of your eating’ food groups (grains, pulses, animal products, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds), store these together so you can see at a glance everything you have. Then for less helpful, or very tempting foods, can you keep choice to a minimum (1 type only of cereal bar/biscuit/crisps, for example)?
LET GO – AND WELCOME THE CHANGE
Kerrie – it’s often the case that our body shape changes as we mature, which can be unnerving and cause our confidence to take a nose dive. You used to know exactly what suited you and where to shop when you were younger but feel like you’ve lost your way a bit since your shape has changed. Rather than see it as an unwelcome change though, I’d urge you to embrace it and see it as an opportunity to try new styles and looks. Maybe you have a fuller bust than you used to have or are fuller at your waistline? Maybe your bust is smaller or your bottom is flatter? Fabric makes a huge difference to how things hang, as will the degree of tailoring/shaping in items. You can use colour, pattern and accessories to draw the
eye to certain places and generally try new styles that you perhaps wouldn’t have given a second glance to before.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a style rut or feel deflated when your clothes don’t look the way they used to, so let go of those ‘old favourites’ that may no longer be working and try new styles. A wardrobe update whether it’s a few new (or nearly new) pieces can be a huge confidence boost and can lift your mood immensely.
Above all, don’t let go of the ‘you’ that’s inside – I 100% believe we should dress exactly as we want to, so if you used to dress more creatively, for example, but have started to ‘hide’ now’s the time to get back in touch with your true self and start expressing what’s on the inside, with what you choose to wear on the outside.
(If you’d like any help defining your style and choosing clothes that you feel confident in, it goes without saying that I’d love to help you!).
Cathy – like clothing, food can come in trends and phases. Our taste buds, body needs and lifestyles change as we age. That is OK, in fact really helpful to acknowledge and accept change. Thinking about your time, family commitments, nourishment – what honestly, and realistically, is helpful in your kitchen? This may be completely different to 5 years ago. Relish in having less clutter, more space,
less guilt, in your kitchen.
In addition, if you are susceptible to kitchen trends, you may have cupboards of not only foods, but gadgets and cookware, that just aren’t used. Sell or donate them please.
Kerrie – I love seeing the smiles on client’s faces when they try something that they wouldn’t have dreamt of trying and love the reflection they see staring back at them in the
mirror. If you’ve always liked fashion but are afraid of looking ‘like mutton
dressed as lamb’ as my mum used to say, tell that negative thought to go away. Try a few current items and see how they feel. You may not want to wear a crop top but trying a jumpsuit or midi dress paired with trainers (which just happen to be current) may well work. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we should follow fashion at all, so if this isn’t you then that’s absolutely fine. Simply have a go at experimenting with different looks. Maybe try a casual dress rather than always wearing jeans or leggings, for example. Or start wearing those things you’ve ‘saved for best’ every day. You’ll be surprised how much of a lift that can give you. The mindset connection between what we wear and how we feel is well documented. Just give things a try!
Cathy – continuing in the spirit of change, after your declutter and re-organise, experimentation can be exciting and positive. However, balance, as always, is key. Experimenting probably isn’t thinking the new Lakeland catalogue has the answers to your kitchen overwhelm, let’s keep this really simple, and cost effective. Experimenting might mean – pairing ingredients not done before; eating at a different time of day in recognition of hunger / fullness; buying 1 new ingredient a week; mixing sweet and savoury together; batch cooking at the weekend.
I would encourage you to start a list of successful changes – as the list grows so does a feeling of confidence, achievement, and trust in yourself.
SPEND SOME TIME PLANNING
Kerrie – the best kind of wardrobe is one that works perfectly for your lifestyle. So, if you
spend 50% of your time working, for example, then 50% of your wardrobe should be
clothes that you can wear for work. If you spend 20% of your time socialising, then 20%
of your clothes should work for this purpose. If you plan your wardrobe in this way, you’ll
find that you’re not left staring at your wardrobe uttering those “I’ve got nothing to wear”
words! If you want to get really good at this, then developing a capsule wardrobe, where
you have fewer clothes that all mix and match to make multiple outfits, is the solution. I
absolutely love helping my clients in this way – it’s good for the environment, good for your
bank balance and reduces the daily headache of choosing what to wear too – it’s win:win
all ways round. (Checkout my many blogs on this topic here).
Cathy –a fundamental key to healthy eating, or weight management. Think POP –
planning, organisation, preparation – and you will find your food world easier. What
this looks like for each of you might be different. For example, eating roughly the same
lunch every day, always taking snacks when you leave the house, a weekly evening meal planner, perhaps in conjunction with an online shop. We don’t ALL have to do ALL these
things, no overwhelm please. However, knowing what your next meal is, finding a system
that works for you, can be tremendously helpful, over time.
One word of caution though, a little flexibility is welcome too, life throws curved balls and
we can’t always follow through the best laid plans. In which case we welcome (again)
some acceptance, and the ability to go with the flow if needed.
LOSE THE WORD ‘SHOULD’ FROM YOUR VOCABULARY!
Kerrie – I’m not a fan of the ‘should’ word and don’t believe that we should (there’s
that word again!) feel constrained in any way when it comes to choosing what to
wear. Your clothes are an expression of you, so you should 100% wear what feels
good for you, full stop!
Cathy – oh my goodness the unfortunate power of this word (whether said out
loud, or in your head). It can be overwhelming. And the last thing we want is for
this blog to add to your ‘should’ list. ‘Should’ can bring guilt, negativity, inflexibility
and kitchen fatigue. Not helpful.
How about ‘could’ instead? A sense of possibility and choice? “I ‘could’ have fruit, seeds and yoghurt for breakfast” sounds so much better. ‘Would like’ and ‘might’ are also useful words. And going one step further, if eating / drinking today didn’t quite turn out brilliantly, no ruminating please about what you ‘should’ have done. You did the best you could on this day, with the tools and resources you had. Let it go. And tomorrow is a new day to try again.
Kerrie and Cathy would love to hear your feedback on this. Have we helped? What
idea resonates with you most? What small change will you make first? Can we help
Please do contact Cathy if you’d like any help on the ‘what to eat’ side of things:-
Cathy Houghton is a Health Coach to women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, specialising in
disordered eating and weight loss. She offers a free 30 minute conversation to find out
more, and has a monthly newsletter you can sign up to on her homepage.