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Beat the Sugar Craving: #2 of 69 Challenges

 It’s that time of the year again ~ exciting End-Of-Year-Do’s and heartwarming get-together with neighbors, friends, and family. For me, it involved in the past weeks of baking (yes I made that gingerbread house myself a few years ago), and consuming tons of sweets and chocolate.

No surprise then that I am battling the bulge for as long as I can think back. I have lots of convenient excuses, from growing up with buttered sandwiches with sugar to my pet-excuse: Hubby is buying all this stuff. Yes, he is one of the unnatural people who can have a bar of chocolate and eat only one piece and then not touch it for another week.

I went sugar-free once for about seven months – during my last pregnancy. On doctors orders, who threatened I would give birth to a twenty-pound baby. That was all the incentive I needed back then. So I know I can do it. Although at the age of 68  the chances of another pregnancy are about zero.

Thus for my 69 Challenges leading up to my 69th birthday, going sugar-free is #2 and probably one of the highest hurdles to take. Starting before the full-on-Christmas-indulging-sweet-stuff seems a wise idea. I’m sure–no, I hope rather than being sure–my body will thank me for it because next May I’m going to walk part of the Camino in Spain, and the less weight I’m lugging around, the easier the walk will be.

The good news is, there is enough research showing that we can learn how to resist the lure of chocolates and icing coated cakes. Like any other addiction, it takes some preparation and research. I can work. Thousands of people have proven it. It’s not rocket science. I am particularly encouraged by a research that stipulated that intense cravings stop after two to three days for half of the participants and 87% reported no withdrawal symptoms after six days.

So here is what I came up with while looking for ways, crutches, and strategies to beating the sugar craving. I’m not a nutritionist, so do your own research. This is what I found as I looked for things that could help me!

  1. Clean out your pantry >> If it’s not in the house, it’s more unlikely to end up on your hips. A very sensible suggestion. Get rid of all the temptations makes abstaining so much easier. You might still sneak out at 10 PM and sneak over to the petrol station for a candy bar or an ice cream, but I put my money on my laziness.
  2. Cut out artificial sweeteners >> They say artificial sweeteners change your palate. the effect of cutting out sugar and sweeteners seems to be that your ‘normal’ food actually tastes sweeter.
  3. Eat food high in minerals >> A big part of sugar cravings could be related to a lack of certain minerals in your nutrition. Making sure you take in enough
    1. magnesium (leafy greens, raw cacao, nuts and seeds, brown rice, avocados),
    2. chromium (broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, whole grains, free-range eggs)
    3. zinc (whole grain, seeds, nuts, free-range eggs, oysters)
  4. Consume healthy fats >> (coconut oil, avocados, nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, free-range eggs, salmon) Try putting coconut oil in your salads, smoothies, soups, or stir-fries.
  5. Go easy on coffee/tea and alcohol >> caffeine and alcohol are said to cause dehydration of our bodies and therefore prone to cause mineral deficiencies. So it’s back to water and herbal teas. I like both, and in summer I always have a pitcher of water ready with some cut lemon pieces and fresh mint leaves from my garden.
  6. Upgrade your lifestyle >> say goodbye to long nights in front of the computer or TV. Instead, make sure you get adequate sleep, put some regular exercise into your daily schedule, and manage your stress levels.

Looking at the six points – it’s all do-able. So today is my first day.

Do you have any further suggestions how to beat the sugar cravings? My goal is to be sugar-free in 2018. What about you? Please, use the comments for your suggestions. I’ll give one of my e-books free to a commenter each week.

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69 Challenges until November 2018 – win a free book

It will be my 69th birthday next year. Although I’m happy with my age (I mean it) the NUMBER is a little bit shocking. Some of it is of course just in my head, but some is real. Like not knowing where I put the car keys, being blind without my glasses, falling asleep in front of the TV… things like that.

I decided to make a big dash before I’m hitting the Seventies. Hence the 69 challenges. So challenge # 1 was to walk the Wellington Skyline. My Fitbit watch said I did 19 kilometres, but that sounds a bit steep giving it’s officially only twelve. Continue reading “69 Challenges until November 2018 – win a free book”

How to Avoid the Week From Hell

I suppose everyone has a bad week now and then. And I don’t mind having a ‘bad’ week if that means, it rains all week or the Avocados are suddenly $6 a piece. For others that could be a disaster, for me, it’s not. Here is my suggestion for a reasonable decent week.

Never trust a new hairdresser(ess) with colouring your hair.

Continue reading “How to Avoid the Week From Hell”

Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet

It’s cold and rainy and windy in Wellington. The temperature inches barely into the two digits. So it makes perfect sense–to me–to watch a movie set in one of my favourite regions: Tuscany/Italy. Seeing the red Fiat with Claire, Sophie, and Charley drive along country roads studded with slender cypress trees… ahh. Is there anything more beautiful?

Maybe the scene almost at the end, when the whole family sits around a large rustique dining table in the lush Tuscan garden beats the car scene. It’s hard to pick because the views of Tuscany, Siena, and Verona are simply stunning. Trust me on this: the movie is worth seeing for the scenery alone. Continue reading “Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet”

Message From Your Past

When we find an old bottle with a message inside on the beach, we get immediately excited and expect at least a romantic love note if not a hint to sunken treasure. I remember as a child I waited for the postman, convinced he would bring a letter from a forgotten uncle in America, telling me I inherited a fortune. Needless to say, it never happened.

I want to talk about the other messages, those that cause heartache and pain for years on end. Messages we carry with us–sometimes from early childhood on–that cause deep scars and can get in the way of a happy, fulfilling life. They are often given through hurtful words and actions or through the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. They are emotionally crippling and can cause gazillions of problems. Continue reading “Message From Your Past”

Bonds of Love: A Summer Read

I like to know how things start. Context for me is like a scaffolding any story is hanging on, whether it’s the story about how I found my new pair of shoes or any other story. In fact, my family accuses me of starting with Adam&Eve every time I tell a story. I’ll never understand their exasperationtGolden Girl Series - High Resolution - A Prequel.

It was only logical to write the Adam&Eve bit for my GOLDEN GIRLS series. After finishing the first two of my Golden Girls books, I NEEDED to know how they became such good friends whose friendship lasted over thirty years. That’s a pretty amazing achievement, don’t you agree?

When readers asked me how it all started, I had the best excuse to go back in time and peak into the student flat of Anna, Thea, Claudia, and Christine.

 So go ahead and get your copy of Bonds of Love: The Prequel of the Golden Girls series. It’ll be FREE to a good home for a while.

You can order it here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/V28fg

 

 

 

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Is It Too Late For Love?

The other day I heard a story of an elderly couple in their mid-eighties who is having an affair. In their retirement home! The reaction of the surrounding audience was “How cute, how endearing.” As if they were little infants who lie on a lambskin, lifting their heads for the photographer or a couple of pre-schoolers playing Mums ‘n Dads.

It’s never cute to start a new relationship, no matter what age we are. More so as an older person than in younger years. As we enter the sunset years of our lives, finding a new partner and starting a new relationship requires courage and a giant leap of faith. It’s not easy to put one’s history aside and start anew. It’s also an incredibly hopeful act because One is a lonely number and living as One is a hard road to travel.

When people heard the story of the couple from the retirement home, I imagine their mental picture was that of a brittle couple walking the garden paths holding their emaciated hands, planting little kisses on each other’s lips or wrinkly cheeks, and whispering terms of endearment before they forgot what they were talking about.

But NO. Three times NO. It’s not cute. It is not like admiring a couple of rare Panda bears in the zoo or on TV. It simply is the human condition. Throughout our lives, we always need another person to help us regulate our internal state, our level of arousal. A baby couldn’t be calm or go to sleep without the closeness of a calm and soothing mother. It would suffer greatly and might even die without the love and physical comfort of another person, even when fed regularly. Being close to a (caring) person is not just a good idea, it’s a biological necessity for our survival. As we grow older, our dependence on another person decreases, but it will never ever go away completely. We always function better when we are close to another person.  (For more in-depth information about this read A General Theory of Love).

Back to my story. When it transpired that Eva (let’s call my fellow oldies Eva and Adam) talked about yummy sex, people’s eyes clouded over. The Icky-effect kicked in. The idea that Adam would have his eighty-year-old hand sliding up Eva’s trembling thighs and suckle with increasing enjoyment on her nipples, quickly threw the couple out of the ‘cute-corner.’ Because, let’s be serious, Old Folks over the age of 50, are put out to pasture and best used as babysitters, for house sitting, and looking after the animals when the kids are on holiday.

It may be hard to picture our parents as sexually active—I found it hard to picture my own parents as sexually active… until I crossed over to the Old Folks’ side.

Let me tell you, as someone who is closer to my eighties than my fifties, that’s not how it works for those of us on the other side of this magical divide. The skin may wrinkle and the bones may creak, but the (metaphorical) heart and soul are ageless. Besides having accumulated more knowledge over the years and learned from experiences, my thinking has not changed much. Only when I’m invited to join in some physical activities, I have to pass. That’s the only time I ‘feel’ my age.

The need for emotional and physical intimacy, however, doesn’t stop. Erogenous zones don’t disappear with the plumpness of youthful skin. It is still arousing to be touched in those areas. There is no use-by-date of the need for love, after which life becomes a waiting game for the undertaker.

Baby boomers have heralded the sexual revolution together with many changes we take for granted nowadays. Watch this space—they/we will not sit by and allow people to cutesify (don’t adjust your spell check, I just invented the word) our lives. I say that even though knowing the obstacles we face are extraordinary.

I started writing romance novels a few years ago and my heroines are in their late fifties and older… after all, they say write about what you know. Since then I have talked with many women my age and older, and through this scientifically conducted research, I came to the conclusion that we love being held, being kissed, being stroked, being made love to, no matter our age and the number of wrinkles we have.

I have submitted my ideas and manuscripts to several well-known publishers and agents and received the feedback that there is no readership for old heroines like that. Old Heroes, maybe, but certainly not dried up old Heroines. Maybe they are right? I for one am sick and tired reading about twenty and thirty-year-old people, whether they are normal couples or shifting into some other kind of beings. Yes, I too love Sleepless in Seattle and adore Dirty Dancing, but surely there must be more stories out there like Something’s Gotta Give? Yes, yes, I hear you mention the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A great start, but only one of very few bucking the trend and depicting positive images of older age. There are interesting lives being lived from the age of fifty onwards and they are worth talking about. Recognizing oneself in stories being told might help our generation to feel less isolated and resigned.

What are we doing to ourselves if a quarter of our life is ignored in so many areas of life, including art? I say our on purpose because if you are lucky, you’ll get there as well. Sometimes it feels like we are a burden to society—except for those who own and run retirement homes. They can’t wait for us to flock to their establishments in droves and guarantee them lucrative profits.

Imagine my excitement when two large publishers (in the romance field) put a call out for manuscripts with what they coined ‘Silver Fox Heroes and Heroines’. They defined ‘Silver Foxes’ as people between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five. It took a while for me to stop rolling my eyes. Did they mean those young people who dye their hair gray now because it’s a new fashion trend? The mind boggles. If you are middle-aged and love romantic novels, you might have to search amongst indie publishers for books with real silver foxes and vixens.

Ah well, the fight goes on. Ageism and discrimination of older people aren’t something new and it’ll take much more awareness and talk about these issues for things to change. At least, we have Grace and Frankie on Netflix, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. When they talk about life and sex I can see the silver lining. Like the Golden Girls of the eighties, they push the boundaries of contemporary thinking about us oldies. YEAH! Go, Girls!

For the reader of romantic suspense, my books A TUSCAN AFFAIR and A CASE FOR LOVE can be found at all major e-book outlets.

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Book Launch Party: A TUSCAN AFFAIR

I’m having a bit of a party to celebrate the launch of my debut novel A TUSCAN AFFAIR. Romance fans who are in Wellington on that day, are welcome to join us for a good time.

 

A TUSCAN AFFAIR, the first of four books in the GOLDEN GIRLS Series. Four long-time friends are faced with life changing decisions. As so often happens, life throws some serious obstacles their way but being strong Kiwi women, they don’t cower in fear. Instead, they meet those challenges head-on.

 

With the help of each other, they answer the age-old question: Do we quietly sit back and grow old or is there still one more adventure waiting for us? One more love?

Each one of the four friends has a book to her name. A TUSCAN AFFAIR is Anna’s story.

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Men And Women React Differently To Stress

There are many areas in life where it can be noticed that men and women respond differently to some situations. Recent research with brain imaging has shown that each gender responds differently to stress.

The main difference seems to be that stress caused changes in men’s right prefrontal cortex and their left orbitofrontal cortex. These areas are usually associated with what is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction. Thus it can be expected that men deal with problems that cause them stress by going into ‘fight-mode’ that could in some instances involve aggression, or they respond with avoidance and withdrawal.

This is very different for women under stress. For them, changes were noticed in their limbic system, the part of the brain that is mainly involved in relationships, attachments, and emotions.  This indicates that women may respond to stress with changes in mood (depression) and with what is known as the ‘tend-and-befriend’ dynamic by becoming nurturing and seeking connections with others to maximize support.

These two very different coping styles seem to be rooted in the evolutionary past of humans when the division of responsibilities had males hunting, fighting and protecting while females tended to the well-being and functioning of the group or community.

Nowadays the nature of stressors people face has changed and both styles of coping with stress create a distinct set of problems if people unconsciously act as if they are still living in the Stone Age. Most stressors today have to do with people’s relationships or the lack thereof, how they compensate for their insecurities, and how they follow their ambitions.

These modern stressors require strategies that are much more complex than ‘fight-or-flight’ or ‘tend-and-befriend.’ Following the Darwinian insights of evolution, it can be expected that those people will be successful who can adjust to modern stressors with strategies that use both male and female strengths of problem-solving.

This article was inspired by the following research:  University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2007, November 20). Brain Imaging Shows How Men And Women Cope Differently Under Stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2009

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Impact Of Early Childhood Stress

Child AFor psychotherapists working with people who struggle with the
legacies of an abusive and/or traumatic childhood, it is no news that people are affected way past their childhood years. It’s good to see that research is coming to the party and provides scientific evidence for the long-term struggles people have.

“The immune system is not present at birth. The cells are there, but how they will develop and how well they’ll be regulated is very much influenced by your early environment and the type of rearing you have.” We know from trauma research the same to be true for people’s self-capacities involved in distress tolerance and emotion regulation.

Indeed, even if the life circumstances improve people show that early childhood stress has a negative impact on their learning capability, on their behaviours, and on their immune system.  Thus they are disadvantages with regard to their future careers, to how they integrate into society, and with regard to their health status.

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