Hi everyone

How are things with you?  I’ll have more to say about how England is coping with a reduction in Lockdown Version 2.0 and a consequent move to a ‘tiered’ approach to the pandemic at the end of the month. For now, in the middle of November with the days rather grey and damp, my mood is low. Actually I feel a bit weary, and gosh, I could really do with a holiday.

So to counter this feeling of winter despondency I’ve done two things: Firstly, I’ve booked not one but two staycation holidays in the UK, one in June and one in September, yay!  And second, I bought a book!

As you know I’m a great fan of Annabel Streets and Susan Saunders of the Age Well Project blog and their book. Saunders has just published another on the same theme. It is The Age Well Plan. The 6-week Programme to Kickstart a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life. And have I started the 6-week Programme? Have I heck! And to be absolutely honest I probably won’t, but it’s got a lot of very good information within it including some great recipes, so I’m going to pick out some bits to encourage you, and myself, to live well and happily, which is the main aim, and a good one.

The book is structured around the 6-week programme, which includes: How to Plan, How to Eat, How to Move, How to Sleep, How to Be, How to Live and I’ll now extract some of the points made in each of those chapters.

How to Plan

This is a fascinating chapter with a lot in it around the cellular ageing process. There are also boxes to tick and questionnaires to answer, such as why do you want to age well, plus an interesting task to fill in an ancestral health portrait. Do you know what illnesses your great-grandparents suffered from?  I know my grandparents’ illnesses, but I’ll have to do some  research to go back that far. And while there’s a couple of pages of what not to do, as in what is ageing you, I loved the emphasis on the positive including the description of Blue Zoners, those who live in areas of the world with the highest concentration of centenarians and SuperAgers, the ones who are still working into the their 80s and 90s and are extremely agile both physically and mentally. Plenty to think about here.

How to Eat

Saunders mantra, is eat well, age well, and there are some great recipes here. It’s what you would expect, eat Mediterranean; be good to your gut; olive oil; less salt; fast overnight for as long as possible, eat loads of vegetables especially the brightly coloured ones; fat is your friend while sugar….. And so on.  There are no surprises, but I do like to have the knowledge I have re-inforced. What do you think about the tip to eat until 80% full? Yes, that’s about stopping eating before you think you’ve had enough. That’s a tricky one. Eating mindfully and slowly helps, apparently. And there are a week’s worth of recipes at the back of the book.

How to Move

Moving, oh yes, that’s something I do believe in wholeheartedly. My nutritionist who is a trained doctor, once said to me, don’t ever get confined to your bed for any illness. Yes, those poor Covid patients who have been in ITU for weeks apparently have to be taught how to walk again, and I can relate to that, when I stumble out of bed in the morning and walk stiffly to the bathroom! And through the pandemic I have definitely been sitting more than usual. But have I counted the hours? No I have not. Yes, there are some key questions to answer in this chapter and much to think about. And a lot of good advice including: move every single hour of the day; be active around your home; walk+++; get breathless (I now walk briskly up three flights of stairs to get to my flat and that, people, is a huge improvement in my health from the beginning of the year); take a yoga or Pilates class or stretch at home; and build your muscle. This is so essential as we age, I’m telling you, do get some supervised instruction and take up weights. I usually don’t like telling people what to do, I mean feel free, but in this instance, we need muscle to stay standing up and it can also cure that dreaded upper arm flab. You know it’s a win-win. But I did say supervised.

How to Sleep

Oh gosh, how to sleep. I could do with any advice what with my very poor sleep patterns, although recently my sleep has improved through listening to a mindful meditation immediately before I go to sleep, with the light off, and then, and I think this is key to my improvement, not putting the light on in the bathroom and cleaning my teeth, I do that beforehand, and if I need the bathroom I do not turn the light on. And as our bathroom is internal it is very, very dark, but I manage.  Again there are no surprises in the questions asked and advice given, all of it is good.  I guess I’ve worked through my bad sleeping pattern and come out the other side – phew, and thank goodness for that.

How to Be

What does Saunders mean, how to be? I think this is about being positive and believing that yes, you really are as old as you feel. There are lots of questions to assess how you feel about ageing and lots of advice about challenging yourself through: doing something new; managing stress; being sociable and contacting one friend a day – I definitely do that through texts, emails and WhatsApps; practicing empathy; meditatingchallenging your brain; being grateful; planning a party and laughing. Oh yes! I have a friend who sends me funnies through WhatsApp, and another via emails, and I send them on. You have to have at least one belly laugh a day.

How to Live

This is an interesting one, as although it has the same feel of the last chapter, this has far more of an emphasis on the world we live in. It is about ageing in the world around us with all that this might mean, including an emphasis on looking closely at your future and how you interact with your world. There is also much about pollution in the home and outside in this chapter. In fact although Saunders doesn’t say so, it’s a reality check about where you live, how you live and what you might do about this as you age.  It’s altogether quite thought-provoking.

I think the most important thing is to not stress too much about the current situation (not easy) but let’s be so very thankful as we can now look forward to hugging family, and friends, and being with people, as in loads of people on trains and buses, in cinemas and theatres and museums and art galleries, and so many things.  All of this possible now, with the news of 3 vaccines coming in 2021 – huge cheers and hurrah!!!

In the meantime, here’s that coat I bought just before Lockdown Version 2.0 with my black jeans.

First, it’s my old back skinny jeans with a very old cashmere charity shop top. And now with an extra yellow (my favourite colour) top for warmth.

And the coat.

And finally the coat plus a warm hand-knitted beanie bought in Norway on my last cruise in August 2019.

Note the scarf picks up the orange in that bright orange hat – I also have orange gloves!

And that’s all for now. Take care

With love, Penny the Frugalfashionshopper

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20 thoughts on “Ageing well

  • 25th November 2020 at 8:42 am
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    Hello Penny, you’re looking good as always. I have a huge favour to ask – I am looking for a nutritionist who is also a doctor and note you have mentioned the one you consult in a couple of your blogs. I live near Brighton , and would love to have her contact details. Would you feel comfortable passing them onto me? I would be very grateful, but quite understand if you feel you can’t do that in this public space. Thank you, Sue

    • 26th November 2020 at 8:07 am
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      Yes, I can help with this. I first met Dr Stewart, decades ago, when he was a GP, and at that point he was more interested in homeopathy than anything else. He stopped being a GP soon after and became a private nutritionist and wrote several books on gut health. His practice is in London and Lewes and here’s his website link. http://www.stewartnutrition.co.uk/company/contact_us.html

      He’s a very unique person – and you’ll know why when you meet him. Actually I do like the way everything he prescribes is evidence based. He takes bloods before he prescribes, which I think is excellent.

  • 25th November 2020 at 8:49 am
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    Felt low myself this morning so your blog was very timely. Cheered me up. Thank you Penny.

    • 26th November 2020 at 8:08 am
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      Thanks Jen – so pleased I wrote myself out of feeling low and that this helped others as well. Take care x

  • 25th November 2020 at 8:53 am
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    Morning Penny.
    What a good way to start the day with a positive vibe from you. The book sounds really interesting and one of my daughters asked what I’d like for Christmas – that’ll do nicely.
    Love the outfits and the big smile, thank you.
    Kathleen

    • 26th November 2020 at 8:10 am
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      The book is really helpful, easy to read and much of it based on excellent research. Thanks Kathleen for this kind words.

  • 25th November 2020 at 9:19 am
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    Totally agree about not putting gon the light when going to the bathroom during the night. It’s a real wake up ! Try a plug in night light, it gives just enough illumination to avoid a catastrophe 😉

    • 26th November 2020 at 8:10 am
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      D you know I hadn’t thought of a plug-in low light. I’ll look into it! Thanks!

  • 25th November 2020 at 12:04 pm
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    A great layered look! The section on sleeping was interesting to me as I do tend to wake up in the middle of the night and need to have better habits before I go to bed. I think it would be an interesting book to read and like you said pull a few things here and there to apply to your life.
    http://www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

    • 26th November 2020 at 8:12 am
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      It’s a really good book and easy to read, I do recommend it also as it’s based on their good research.

      Thanks re: the look, it’s cold and grey here right now, so a pop of bright orange is just what’s needed!

  • 26th November 2020 at 1:00 pm
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    Lovely coat, great pop of orange!
    Saw some encouraging research in the paper today – said if you do a brisk walk every day, even a short one, it compensates for the fact we’re sitting around a lot. This contradicts some research from last week which said the opposite! I’m still eating the 2 choc biscuits a day “Covid treat” so avoiding any books or articles which talk about healthy eating….!
    I realised I have a three week sabbatical next year so I’m very excited at the prospect of a long holiday, perhaps Japan or Peru,……stay safe xx

    • 28th November 2020 at 9:17 am
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      Yes, love wearing orange on a grey day. I also wear a bright red puffa on cold days – wearing a cheery colour is so important these days.

      I’ve put on 6lbs and while I took some lbs off during the summer, they’ve crept back, mainly because I’m baking and eating flapjack! Some of it might be muscle as my stomach is flatter. I think this will go when the pandemic is over and we get out more.

      Ah, holidays….. Peru – amazing! Keep us posted on that!

  • 27th November 2020 at 11:55 am
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    A very interesting post today Penny but I don’t think I’ll be getting the book! In a year when we have been told what and what not to do in a way not experienced since childhood I can’t take any more instructions, however positive or well-meant. I’ve cut back on my drinking, have lost a bit of weight and already exercise 3 times a week and walk 2-3 miles (with inclines) on 3 days ,unless the weather is really bad. I had a walk with a friend yesterday for a big catch up which has bucked me up no end. The exercise has carried on by Skype, not ideal but she works me harder than I work myself. Every time I start I think I won’t be able to keep going but somehow I do. I’m certainly a lot more flexible than I was and I suppose I’ve got more muscle but you can’t see it. I do have a more defined waist but still bulges above and below!
    Although my BMI is still close to the NHS upper limit – I know this is just one measure and not necessarily the best – & I’ve realised that I have to tolerate a bit of hunger to keep it this way. Somehow harder in the winter than summer! I had decided how to be & how to live -active, sociable, trying new things and reviewing this regularly. With the vaccine, I’ll get back to it next year.
    We have just finished the last series of The Bridge ; increasingly bizarre plots but the acting is so good. Started Succession but the language is, in it’s ubiquity, beyond unacceptable. I know they are all horrible people, with the possible exception of the wife , but the sexually aggressive and misogynistic language used by both sexes is deplorable. I’m interested in the plot but by continuing with it I feel compromised & diminished in some way. What to do…?

    • 28th November 2020 at 9:24 am
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      You’re right about the book. I liked it a lot and there’s good information in it, but it is only reinforcing what I know already and as I said, I won’t be actually doing the 6-week thing. That’s too much. I need pampering not a regime!

      Yes, having a PT is so good and I too am amazed at how hard I work. I’m actually developing a 6-pack around my core!!! I am so glad you found your PT. It is good to know that there is someone who understands your body (in my case my ageing body) and this is key, empathises yet pushes you to go further.

      Will talk about books and films in my next post. Have a good weekend Lynda and thanks for your comment 🙂

  • 27th November 2020 at 3:12 pm
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    We eat well, as advised, just too much 😬. My(French) doctor recommends a glass of red a day, two for a man. We do the longish fast so no nighttime drinks of chocolate or similar. As for sleeping I usually get about 6 hours but if I don’t fall asleep quickly instead of lying in bed ‘thinking’ I get up again and read. Short walk everyday too and we got rid of the car as we live in the city so that helps with making the effort. Enjoy the weekend.

    • 28th November 2020 at 9:31 am
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      Good to hear Flora – you’re doing everything right but the eating until 80% full is the hardest thing. I have put back the 6lbs I lost over the summer (which I’d in turn put on through the Spring) and it’s entirely due to the delicious flapjacks I’ve been making and eating every week! In addition, the cold grey wet weather has reduced the amount of time I walk.

      I will enjoy the weekend, especially as we are putting up our Christmas tree. Thanks and take care 🙂

  • 29th November 2020 at 10:06 am
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    Just to say how much I enjoyed reading your old blogs this week! I didn’t find you until about a year ago, so it was great to see how your style has evolved.
    As far as sleep goes, I’m hesitant to say this after years of insomnia, but may have found a good routine thanks to my GP’s advice to listen to health podcasts by Dr Rangan Chattergee. In one he chats with Matthew Walker (on sleep), which has helped me understand that we generally have 90minute cycles, surfacing between them. For some, they don’t fully surface and move on to the next cycle but for others (like me) they wake. Now, I think that’s ok and settle back for my next cycle, sometime back asleep in minutes, rather than going through the self destructive mind games of why can’t I sleep, mind switched on and working overtime. Walker says he has 5 sleep cycles a night and I’m getting close to that now, some nights better than others. I have a Moonlight plug-in that gets me safely to the loo without putting on main lights, other than that I block out as much light as possible with window blinds as well as curtains and have an eye mask for summer when even a tiny bit of light at dawn wakes me. Prior to getting into bed I use a pillow spray and smooth a relaxing scented cream on my arms, all part of my new routine. Once in bed I listen for 5 minutes or so to Calm meditation (also recommended by my GP), or read on my Kindle with bedside light off. I’m usually asleep in minutes. I hope this helps you or others who struggle with sleep.

    • 30th November 2020 at 4:54 pm
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      Thank you Jane – it’s great to hear from you. I too think listening to a tape or podcast just before turning off the light is a very good routine to get into. And not having a strong light in the bathroom. My sleep is better but I sympathise if you too have had years of sleep issues – yes, same, and like a lot of people, worse this year.

      Thanks so much for your comment, we can all learn from each other – every little helps 🙂

      • 1st December 2020 at 3:49 pm
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        And I forgot to say, Penny, that I love the photos of you in and around the art gallery. You look so elegant in the fitted black top and beautiful monochrome skirt, black coat, hat and the flash of colour with the yellow scarf. I’m looking forward to dressing up and travelling to London when it’s safe, to wander round galleries with my son (I give him a Tate membership each year, which enables him and a guest – me when I’m in London, to go to all the new exhibitions).

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