Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Finance and Money


If I was the Minister of Education, the first thing I'd do would be to add basic finance and money education to the curriculum, starting from Year One.  Apparently children as young as four know the difference between a $5 and a $20 note if they are offered both and told to choose one, so it’s never too early to start gaining financial knowledge.

I’ve always had a real passion for this topic and for most of my twenties worked in the offices of financial planners, which, while the secretarial work was deathly boring, I loved learning more about financial products and also seeing the different levels of money skills that clients had. 

From the recently widowed older woman who couldn’t understand why she got into financial trouble with cheques bouncing – she believed there must still be money in her account because her cheque book still had cheques left, to the young single woman only a few years older than me who had a well set up portfolio and a house deposit ready to go.  She was very inspiring and gave me a kick in the pants (although she didn’t know it).

Money is very much shrouded in mystery.  We are told that it’s not polite to talk about it, we’d die if anyone found out what our salary was and we often carry a lot of shame, guilt and fear around it.

I did at one point look at training to become a financial planner but at the end of the day they are not really a ‘financial planning’ role as such, but rather a commission salesperson where you had to constantly drum up business and sell rather than educate which did not appeal at all.

Interspersed with my fiction and other non-fiction reading is often a money book. I’ve listed a few in previous posts such as TheMillionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich.  I also love wealth and abundance mindset books because I notice I feel better when I think expansively rather than focus on penny-pinching.  I’m still all for thrift and not being wasteful, however in the past I have bordered on being stingy with myself.

Two really fascinating books I’ve read lately are Denise Duffield-Thomas’ titles:

Lucky Bitch (how she and her husband won a six month travel competition)
Get Rich Lucky Bitch (all about your money mindset)

Denise is an Australian money mindset coach who helps women overcome their money blocks.  She has such different ideas than I’ve heard, which are really quite fascinating.  Yes, she swears a little bit but take that with a pinch of salt.  I’ve listened to some of her videos on YouTube and apart from being laugh-out-loud funny sometimes, she also comes across as a down-to-earth and caring person who really wants you to be more abundant.  I signed up to her newsletter list and love the new topic that is sent out each week plus I have just joined her Money Bootcamp.

Denise has great free resources on her website including ‘7Ways to Remove Your Money Blocks’ and ‘How to Make Money in 24 Hours’ (and doesn’t that sounds like an appealing offer).  What I like about her stuff is that she’s really practical and offers simple steps to take.  I’ve already used some of them in my own life and they’ve made a difference.

I’ve only written about money a few times in the past, and given the level interest I have in being financially clued up, it should well be a higher number.  The topic pertains to this blog too, because to me, part of living a chic life is being in control of our finances.  But, like many other people, I somehow think it’s ‘unseemly’ to talk about money.  So I’m guilty of it too!  Ahh, I’ve got a lot to work on.

It’s certainly a very sensitive subject for many (most?) of us, but I firmly believe that we’d all have a less charged relationship with money if we were more open about it. I don’t know if that’s going to happen soon, but I’m happy to be part of the growing conversation. Money is just paper and metal and numbers, but we make it about so much more (including our self-worth and how we feel about ourselves).  

What about you?  How does the topic of money, finance, abundance and wealth make you feel?  Or, what cabinet position would you choose in Government and what would you change as part of your role?  Now is your chance to shine!

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

41 Ways to be Slim

The divine Ines

Using the Twenty Ideas method, I came up with not twenty, but forty-one pieces of encouragement for when I'm feeling tempted by unnecessary snacking.  I still have my moments, but reading through this list helps me enormously.

I thought you might like to read it too.  Enjoy!

How can I be slim and slender and svelte?

1.       No sugar!  Also very little pasta, bread, potato.
2.      Never go longer than three hours without eating something, no matter how small.
3.      Have protein with every meal.
4.      Make sure I ‘get enough of things’ – get enough water, get enough sleep, get enough protein in my meals, especially lunch, get enough fresh fruits and vegetables every day, get enough exercise.
5.       Keep junk food out of the house – food I cannot go easy on.  It’s easier to say no at the supermarket than when it’s in the pantry.
6.      Eat real food.
7.       Avoid processed foods.
8.      Drink water often – count ten glasses a day or fill a two-litre jug with water.
9.      Go for 80% goodness on a daily basis.
10.    Walk daily.
11.     Do housework for exercise.
12.     Try workout DVDs.
13.     Go to bed early.
14.     Think like a thin person, think thin thoughts, think like I am a person who is naturally slim.
15.     Make it fun and be excited to eat in a healthy manner, love feeling good.
16.     Enjoy exercise as part of my daily life.
17.     Keep good posture to look slimmer and encourage good circulation and muscle training.
18.    Keep a small and stylish wardrobe that will encourage me to keep in shape and enjoy looking fabulous in my clothes.  Get rid of clothing that doesn’t excite me or makes me feel frumpy or dowdy.
19.     Remember that I want my husband to be attracted to me: men are visual creatures.
20.    Declutter my home which helps declutter my body.  Also tidy and keep our home clean.  This inspires me to do the same with my body.
21.     Remember the more I have the more I want, of… salads, water, vegetables, fruit.  Then, if I don’t have them I miss them.  I look forward to a salad for lunch now, which wasn’t the case in the past.
22.    Don’t be tempted by cheap junk food on special at the supermarket.  If 99c is a good price for a big packet of Twisties, it isn’t if it makes me fat and feel revolting.  Think about my poor insides not knowing what to do with junk food.
23.    Groom all the time – shaved legs, self-tan, nice hair and makeup.  Look after my body.
24.    Think how quality food will make my skin glow and how junk food will make it awful.
25.    Remember that processed food, even a tiny bit will load my body with toxins which in turn makes it hold onto fat to accommodate/store those toxins.
26.    Use others as inspiration to be slim – both those I want to emulate and those I don’t (mean but useful).
27.    Factor in treats so I don’t feel deprived.
28.    Always remember the reason why I wanted to lose weight and be slim in the first place, that way nothing can sabotage my new healthy life.
29.    Remember I like to feel hungry before a meal – the food tastes so much better.
30.    French girls spend lots of time in cafes, but the difference is they never eat – they drink coffee, tea, water, diet Coke.
31.     My problem times:  Afternoon – coffee or tea after lunch, chewing gum to clean my teeth after lunch, lots of water, cup of tea around 5pm if I am hungry before dinner.  A 4pm protein shake or a hard-boiled egg works miracles.  After work – Diet Coke or sparkling mineral water in a flute, no snack foods.  After dinner:  herbal tea and a treat, i.e. one perfect chocolate etc.
32.    When I feel like nibbling – drink a glass of water.
33.    Food tastes just as good not adding additional salt and pepper at the table.  You taste the flavours better.
34.    When I get all worked up and think ‘I will never be slim, I will always be beholden to junk foods’, think to myself ‘Just be normal.  I can eat normally like normal people, just relax and be normal.  Eat normal food’.
35.    Stick to the basics – three meals a day with no snacking in between.  It’s a tried and true way to live that has been around for generations.  If I feel hungry in between, drink a big glass of water.
36.    Remember that eating is not a hobby.  Mother Nature made eating enjoyable so we would not die of starvation but that doesn’t mean I can eat all day/eat when I want something to do/eat to make myself feel better etc.
37.    Eat the right foods to fuel and nourish my body and to feel full of energy.
38.    Being in the right frame of mind makes all the difference.  Just by changing my mind, I can change the way I behave.  I can be positive and happy about the future, focused on home, relationships, business, family etc and eating when I don’t need to just falls away.
39.    Make up a menu plan – like I am advising someone else.
40.    Portion control my chosen snack foods.  Gladware containers for potato chips etc.
41.     Declutter something.  It helps with enjoying real food and not craving junk.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How to make your day special


I felt inspired to do another video after I had a particularly enjoyable walk the other day.  I do my best thinking when I'm out strolling!  Today's topic is 'how to make your day special'.  I share my thoughts and in the end you will see that it comes down to two magical questions:

How is this day special? 


How can I make this day more special?

You may remember that in my first two videos I was cat-bombed, so you will be relieved to know that this video is entirely cat-free.  Phew! says everyone.

I'd love to hear your take on this and how you are planning to make today special, or how is today special already?

PS.  I am now on Facebook and Twitter, so please do join me there. Even if you don't belong to either, you can still read my pages.  I will be 'talking' in between posts, exciting!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post: French Nutritionist, Part 2

Image from Yves' website

As promised, here is part two of French nutrition coach Yves Calmette’s post on the French art de vivre with a focus on the art of eating.  It's fantastic information.  Enjoy!

And don’t forget, Yves will be in my hometown, Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend appearing at the Green Living Show to be held in the ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.  If you're in Auckland this weekend why not drop by and say bonjour to Yves?



Some of my clients struggle with the eight principles (featured in the last post) to increase pleasure and even the notion of pleasure itself. It’s often because society has brainwashed us with a distorted definition of pleasure based on the following falsities:

* THE MORE, THE BETTER: Not so when it comes to eating for pleasure. Have you noticed that the first bite of your favourite food is always the best? The pleasure then decreases to a point where you become trapped: you keep eating to try and feel that pleasure of the first bite - just like a junkie craves more drugs to get high.

* YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE: So not true when it comes to food! There are three meals a day, at least, every single day of your life. Each meal is and should be an opportunity to derive pleasure. This is how the French approach food. This is one of their secrets to feeling satisfied with smaller portions - they know pleasure is just a meal away.

* ALL YOU CAN EAT: An excuse for binge eating! This terrible business model adopted by some restaurants should be forbidden. What’s the point? All you can eat until you feel sick? Until you’ve stuffed your body with as many unhealthy foods as you can? Where’s the pleasure in that? The whole concept disrespects what food, health and chic are about.

* THE CHEAPER THE BETTER: I’m not saying food has to be expensive to be good but there is one thing that is crystal clear: when food is super cheap i.e. too cheap, it is ALWAYS bad.

* 24/7: A trap that leads us eat even when we’re not hungry. Food is everywhere and accessible 24/7, especially in urban areas. Yet we are not designed to eat constantly. Our liver, digestive system and kidneys can’t handle a constant flow of food without suffering. Vending machines, convenience stores, petrol stations, etc: most of them sell cheap, fast, processed food and are open 24/7.

* FAST IS GOOD: All the above. Slow goes with health. Slow brings true pleasure that lasts. Slow is so chic, so French!

Here’s a quick guide to finally enjoy the art of eating, the French way:

- If you often fall into one or several of the traps regarding the false definition of pleasure, ACKNOWLEDGE IT.

- Start avoiding NOW.

- Follow the 8 principles to CREATING AND IMPROVING pleasure at each meal.

- Record in your book note or computer: how you feel after each meal: was it true pleasure? How you feel when you follow the 8 principles for pleasure. If you fell into one of the traps, what can you do to avoid it next time?

Finally, if you have any questions, email me ( or… come and see me: I’ll be talking at the Green Living Show in Auckland on 27 and 28 June. I’ll be happy to have a chat with you!

Au revoir!


(Fiona):  For me, I know I definitely fall into the first trap - 'the more the better'.  My husband calls it diminishing returns! Actually the first three are written for me, and number four to a lesser extent.  This list has definitely given me something to look at and think about.

Thank you for Yves for sharing your knowledge and Frenchness with us.  I know I learnt a lot and appreciate that you took the time to write this two-part guest post.




Yves Calmette is an award-winning health promotion expert, nutrition coach and Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador. A born and raised French man now based in Sydney with clients across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong, the art de vivre, the art of eating and the principles of food as medicine were the pillars of his upbringing, built on a long family heritage – his great grandmother Marguerite, his inspiration, was a popular cook and healing practitioner in the south west of France during the 1920s.

Want to lose weight and feel great without to live off raw kale and green juices – just like the French do? Visit his blog and grab his free e-guide here. Follow Yves on Facebook and Linkedin.

Tel: +61 424 060 041

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Guest Post: French Nutritionist, Part 1

Image from Yves' website

Nutrition coach Yves Calmette, a born-and-raised Frenchman who now lives in Sydney Australia, recently contacted me about doing a guest post.  He offered to write a post especially for all of us on the French art de vivre with a focus on the art of eating.

The post is so comprehensive I'm publishing it in two parts.  I'm excited for you to read the first part today, and the second will be published on Thursday.  Yves is also visiting my town, Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend to appear at the Green Living Show to be held in the ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.  If you're in Auckland this weekend why not drop by and say bonjour to Yves?



“Pleasure is a nutritional element requirement, a potent metabolic force and an agent of health. Pleasure catalyses metabolic efficiency. It makes life worth living” says Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in NYC.  I could not agree more.

When it comes to eating, pleasure has been demonised in our society and many nutrition experts fail to acknowledge the instrumental part it plays in making us healthy. It is however at the cornerstone of the French positive attitude to food and art de vivre and can help explain the French Paradox: the time-tested and well-research theory, which refers to why 35% ONLY of the French population is obese or overweight compared to more than 65% of Western countries such as the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand despite a diet rich in supposedly harmful foods: cheese, butter, bread, chocolate, red wine… Oh la la!


Pleasure is scientifically explained: it triggers the production of endorphins in our body and helps strengthens the immune system. It is also known to be the best way to fight stress, acidifies our body and promotes inflammation, the root of all modern lifestyle diseases.

The latest research proves what I’ve suggested for years to my clients: our thoughts, beliefs and emotions can modify, by up to 50%, the way our body assimilates food. If you are convinced that a food is fattening and you feel guilty consuming it, you are very likely to put on even more weight. If you know that a wonderful nutritious dish prepared with love will heal your body (and your soul), you may experience enhanced benefits from its nutrients – by up to 50%.

So, the healthier your approach to food, the more positive you’ll be, the more healthy your diet will be and the more pleasure you’ll gain.


For some, the following advice will sound a bit too new age or even ridiculous. Fortunately, it will resonate for many as our society becomes more aware of the healing power of the mind.
For every meal, even the smallest or seemingly least significant, increase the amount of pleasure by following these eight principles, just like the French do every day:

1. WAIT FOR EVERYONE TO BE SERVED BEFORE YOU START EATING  – even if you’re starving. Not only is it polite to wait for others it shows respect for the food you are about to eat, making the moment quite magical and something to be cherished.

2. SAY bon app├ętit! It’s the way the French welcome food and acknowledge that everyone can start eating while also paying respect to the meal. They have been waiting for it (in France, setting and respecting meal times is sacred) and are committed to doing all they can to make this meal unforgettable.

3. ALLOW THIS MOMENT TO BE a time when you smile and share the experience with loved ones.

4. BE GRATEFUL … to the farmer who worked hard to produce this amazing ‘real’ food, to the cook (even if it’s you) who prepared it with love, to life for offering you this very special time to enjoy and celebrate.

5. STOP BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE. Don’t allow yourself to get too full or all the pleasure will be ruined by guilt.

6. LET THE FOOD LOVE YOU. While you’re eating, let the food nourish you, offer you life, pleasure and health.

7. LET GO OF GUILT. Once you’ve finished, don’t allow any negative thoughts about your body and weight pollute your mind.

8. THINK ABOUT YOUR NEXT MEAL. Knowing that you’ll enjoy pleasure again soon will not only make you look forward to the next meal but will make the fear of missing out irrelevant and you'll end up eating less.


Look out for Part 2 in a couple of days time:


It's a must read!

Thank you Yves for your time, and the fabulously authentic information you have so kindly shared with us.