4 Ways I’m Combating “The Middle-Age Spread”

The first time I knew something was up was back in March. I was doing up my favourite red cocktail dress while getting ready for a fundraising event.

Thankfully, it’s a beautiful sheath dress, draped with an overlay, so only I could notice the difference.

Then, 2 weeks ago, while I was planning out which dresses to wear for some upcoming speaking events, it happened again and again. Four times, to be exact.

When my husband came home for lunch, I greeted him with:

“I need to go shopping! None of my dresses fit!!!”

Well, truth be told, yes I can do them up, but it’s not pretty, appropriate, or comfortable. And my audience certainly doesn’t need to see that I have a bellybutton ring poking through my clothes! (Although, I guess that cat is now out of the bag!)

I did not panic. I have not freaked out. Nor have I felt frumpy.

Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified that I might blow out a seam in that gorgeous red dress (it’s my all-time favourite!) whenever I sat down.

But I did not.

(Sidebar: sucking in my gut with all my power didn’t help)

The middle age spread.

It happens. In fact, it seems to have happened to me overnight, despite my activity level and eating habits.

I turn 48 this September and my metabolism is clearly slowing down – not that it was ever fast to begin with! My hormones are shifting and my body is preparing for the next stage in my life.

Yet, every morning when I wake up, I still feel like a young woman inside my heart and my head.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but my years of training and experience in my industry have taught me some ways to tackle it that not all women are aware of.

So what can you do if, like me, the next phase of your life is barreling through the front door instead of knocking politely and patiently waiting until you’re ready for it? Here are 4 things I did (and am still doing!) that you may find helpful:

Step 1: Most important of all, I didn’t have a meltdown. Long gone are the days where I identify the woman I am by my dress size or the number on the scale.

Instead, I listed and gave thanks to my body for all the great things I feel about it, from head to toe. Things like my strong legs and lungs that allow me to cycle all summer long, for example.

Step 2: I did go shopping. I replaced a couple of key dresses that I wear to networking events and speaking engagements. I feel comfortable and confident in my new outfits and I didn’t break the bank, even though I hadn’t budgeted for this dilemma.

Step 3: I reached out to my friend, Heather, a Holistic Nutritionist who also owns the gym where I work out, and asked her to assess my diet in relation to the maturing woman I am today.

I weighed in 5lbs heavier than I was exactly a year ago, which was another 5lbs heaver than the year before. (Note: I don’t actually own a scale. The only reason I know these weights is because this time a year ago, I weighed in for a tug-of-war competition.)

No wonder my clothes “fit” but are super-crazy-uncomfortably tight!!

Ideally, I want to lean out 5-10 lbs so I can fit into the clothing I love, but I am not willing to be drastic. I enjoy my life, entertaining, drinking wine and late night pizza every couple of weeks. I am fit, active, happy and healthy.

After reviewing my food diary and workout plan, Heather and I talked about a few little tweaks in both my eating and workout habits for this stage in my life. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Step 4: Acceptance. It isn’t “do or die” for me to lean out. I love who I am and who I have become. I love my body and I choose to honour it as a sacred temple that enjoys a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or piece of home baked strawberry rhubarb pie on occasion. Life is too short not to!

Do you have questions about navigating this new stage in your life? I’d love to talk to you about it and perhaps give you some suggestions. Just click here to book a complimentary Style Success Session with me.


Perfectly Imperfect

perfectly imperfectThe t-shirt arrived on my doorstep as a gift from my good friend… and I find it “perfect”. I wear it with great pride, and it is what I am wearing in the cover photo on my personal Facebook page.  Our joke regarding the phrase began while she and I decorated my home on two separate occasions: once for a baby shower and another for a Mardi Gras party. We both like the house to look perfectly imperfect when staged for an event!!

As a type A personality, Virgo and self proclaimed perfectionist, I began to think and have a silent chuckle at how many times over the years I have spent endless hours decorating our home so it looks magazine worthy, yet not so perfect to be on display in a showroom all matchy-matchy. Or countless formal styles or updo’s I did as a hairstylist, making my clients look gorgeous with an effortless elegance, yet spending an hour and cursing silently with a bobby-pin in my mouth to achieve this. Or how I balance a client’s outfit to look elegant, sophisticated and yet approachable and fun.

I had to ask myself the question: Why? Why am I, and others, obsessed with this “perfectly imperfect” style?

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s because we are all perfectly imperfect; flawed in ways that make us unique and more attractive to our family, friends and clients.

All of us were born into this world as beautiful, perfectly unique humans. I encourage all of us to embrace those imperfect traits we possess, whether it’s those freckles, the gap in your teeth or your carrot top. Learn to love that which makes you different!

I have found that the quirky little traits we own and perhaps shun ourselves, are usually the same traits our friends admire about us most, or don’t even notice. I used to be terribly self conscious about my toes, they are spread wider apart than the average person (kinda creepy), so what? I am not average, so why should my toes be? My thighs rival most men’s for thickness, but they are strong! And I have this obnoxious loud cackle – yes I said cackle! – and the occasional snort slips out as well, it’s horrifying! Yet, more people have told me how much they love my laugh and how infectious it is!

Let the perfectly imperfect YOU shine on!

In a world where Photoshop and filters serve to enhance our pictures, let’s keep those enhancements subtle, real, pure and fresh.

To end I will leave you with a quote to ponder.

“There is nothing more rare and beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me that is the true essence of beauty.”

~Steve Maraboli

Victoria Baird works with women in life transitions to discover their personal style, develop their personal image and brand, and build their self-confidence around their own natural beauty. Ready to kick your image up a notch? Schedule a complimentary Style Success Session with Victoria here.


Turn That Frown Upside Down!

I have a confession to make.

I am not always a happy camper. Actually, I don’t like camping at all.

Joking aside, I get angry, sad, frustrated and, at times, resentful.

Last week was a really crappy week for me! It was one of those weeks where nothing seemed to go right and my normally good attitude went down the drain, too: I stained a brand new blouse, burnt a batch of cookies, mixed up two of my own appointments (thankfully not client appointments!!) and then got nailed with a hefty,unexpected expense.

Seriously, as the saying goes when it rains it pours.

So why am I sharing this with you?

In my role as Image Branding Expert and Coach, I set a goal to intentionally inspire, motivate and keep you accountable for your own goals. I like to lead by example. I am a happy, fun outgoing and optimistic woman!

But, I am also human.

I have days where my head is just not in the game. I get down on myself and then the domino effect of crappy events happens, just like it did last week. The difference now is that I’ve learned how to snap out of the pity party I give myself and get back on track. Re-adjust my attitude and get focused, quickly.

4 Ways to Turn That Frown Upside Down

Here’s what works for me:

1. Acknowledge how you feel

I find accepting the emotion – whether it be anger, sadness or whatever – is best. Let it out. Have a good cry, scream into a towel or write it out in a journal. Expressing whatever I’m feeling, when I’m feeling it, has had such a cleansing effect for me. It’s like wiping the slate clean and starting again.

2. Deep breath in….. exhale…..

Intentional deep breathing is also very cleansing.

Sit, close your eyes and inhale through your nose, let your belly expand, feel your chest rise, slowly count 1-2-3….. Then, release and exhale out the mouth, slowly.

Repeat until you feel more grounded or settled.

3. Laugh until you almost pee your pants

Laughter truly is the best medicine! I have a stash of funny clips on my phone or on my computer handy for those days! Sometimes just hitting up YouTube for 20 minutes of funny video clips can turn my whole day around. Consider the wise words of Charlie Chaplin:

“A day without laughter is a day wasted”

Laugh until you almost pee your pants, then laugh some more!

4. Keep a gratitude journal

A daily entry into a gratitude journal puts life into perspective.

Every day, jot down 5 things you are grateful for. No need to over-think or over-analyze what to be thankful for. Did you have hot water for a shower? Did you have food for lunch? Was the sun shining? Did your child hug you?

It is life’s simple daily pleasures that create a happier life. As I was packing boxes during our move a few months ago, I came across some old journals of mine. For over 10 years I have kept a gratitude journal! It was pretty neat reading some of those entries.

Choose just one of these four strategies and start implementing it within the next 24 hours. Let me know which one you pick by leaving a comment!


The One Thing You Need to Know to Layer Your Clothing and Still Look Chic!

It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s wet, it’s damp, it’s windy, it’s calm, it’s sunny, and it’s dull. It’s springtime in Canada where the weather can change within minutes and “it” does! Just last weekend on my girls’ getaway in Toronto we experienced it all, even the dreaded S word – SNOW – in the middle of May. UGH.

This time there were 5 of us ladies, aged between 28-50 – what a diverse group of girlfriends I am blessed with! And this is just a few. Quality time with my friends is a priority in my life, although it’s sometimes hard to manage between all our schedules. But when we do – look out! We laugh so hard my head hurts; get into some deep meaningful conversations and the food… never a lack of good food and wine!

Why did we even pack umbrellas? It was sunny when were heading out into the city, so we were hopeful and left CanadianSeasonsthem back at the condo. We were wrong.

Not one of us was prepared in our dress for the weather, even myself – despite looking at the forecast the entire week leading up to the getaway. Maybe I was in denial or maybe I was overly optimistic; either way, I roamed the streets in a light weight leather jacket, hand and head open to the all the elements of spring that hit me. Literally hit me! It is not much fun roaming the Distillery District with a croissant in one hand and a tea in the other with sleet pelting down on me!

Clearly I don’t have ‘it’ all together all the time! For anyone who knows me well they can vouch for this! I struggle, just like the rest of you, trying to figure out what to wear each day with the erratic changes in weather. And in our defence, the weatherman has been known to make mistakes!

Mom’s old school advice holds true still in 2016. Layer up, buttercup.

Wikipedia defines Layer clothing as the wearing of multiple layers of clothing for practical or fashion purposes.

 

Want to layer and still look chic?

 

It’s simple – scarves, cardigans, tights or leggings under a skirt!

Easy to add and subtract, throw in purse or around your waist.

Let’s be honest. Aside from the weather, women’s body temperatures seem to yo-yo enough on their own. From pregnancy to menopause, dressing to adapt to our own internal furnace is tricky. What worked for us even a few months or weeks ago can change in what feels like the blink of an eye!

I love working with women in transition, experiencing life changes – and let’s face it, womanhood IS a series of transitions and changes, whether it’s (re)entering the workforce, changing careers, dating after divorce or the loss of a spouse, or even physiological – losing or gaining weight, having a baby and yes… menopause!

For those of you who are going through a transition like this, I’d love to have a chat with you – no obligation, just a chance for me to get to know you and perhaps offer a few simple tips to help you put your best self forward! Just click here and book a time on my calendar.


7 Reasons to Hire an Image Coach

Image coaching is not only for the rich and famous. I work with many professional women, just like you!

Each client is unique in both their style and needs when working with me. Let’s dig right in and I can elaborate on the benefits of working with an expert!

1. Closet Full of Clothes and Nothing to Wear

messy closet

Image courtesy of K Barker on Flickr

Is this you? Many women have more than one closet full of clothes and are only wearing 20% of those clothes regularly, whether it be out of habit, laziness, or comfort.

Hiring a professional helps you narrow down those clothes to what actually works for you: colour, shape, and design. You will be shown how to mix and match your existing items, resulting in more options with less clothes.

BONUS: You are left with a neat, organized closet that is pleasing to the eye and makes dressing a whole lot more enjoyable every day!

2. Up-Level Your Clientele

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

If your goal is to attract higher level, higher calibre, higher paying clients, you need to start looking and acting like a high level professional. Your appearance counts, from head-to-toe.

This doesn’t require a brand new wardrobe all at once! Learning how to mix and match existing pieces, how to easily update a hairstyle and becoming aware of your body language is a great starting point.

An Image Coach works with you to determine the areas where you need improvement and helps you create a plan to implement over a specific period of time.

3. Build Self-Confidence

Projecting Style

Building Self Confidence

Having clothes that fit properly, wearing colours that make you radiant, styling your hair in a way that complements your face shape, and wearing make-up that suits your skin tone makes a world of difference in gaining back your self-confidence. Focus on your natural beauty. Maximizing the areas you like best will diminish those trouble areas, boosting self esteem. You will walk tall, proud and more confident!

4. Get Clear on Your Personal Style

Lots of women are constantly shopping – trying to keep up with current trends without having any idea what really looks best on them, or what image or style they even want to represent.

An Image Coach works with you to figure out what you like and don’t like, and helps you create a personal style that suits both your professional life and your overall lifestyle.

5. Adapting to Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Significant changes in weight (up or down!) can happen at any time, but most frequently to women following childbirth as well as during the years leading up to and into menopause.

What used to look good doesn’t suit us anymore and many women have no idea how to put outfits together that fit their new bodies. This frustrating time can really do a number on your self-esteem!

An Image Coach will show you how to dress for your new body and leave you feeling good about yourself again.

6. Age-Related Changes

In addition to the menopausal weight gain (mostly around the waist), many women experience other changes including their skin tone, the elasticity of their skin, changes in hair colour and texture, and even possible hair loss.

An Image Coach will teach you new tips and tricks for the mature woman you have become, showing you how to embrace the changes and love yourself in a whole new way.

7. Navigating Through a Life Transition

Changes

Navigating a Life Transition

Graduating and beginning your career. Going back to work after raising children. Getting back in the dating game after a divorce or loss of your spouse. These are all significant times in a woman’s life!

Entering or re-entering the workforce can also be intimidating, especially at interview time. Asking for direction and support from an Image Coach will get you on the right track – looking and feeling good about yourself in a fast and fun way!

Victoria Baird works with professional and entrepreneurial women to discover their personal style, develop their personal image and brand, and build their self-confidence around their own natural beauty, so they can feel great about themselves and stand out from the competition.

Ready to kick your image up a notch? Schedule your complimentary Style Success Session with Victoria here.


Are You Aging Gracefully? 5 Mistakes Mid-Life Women Make & How to Avoid Them

Aging gracefully will be a reoccurring topic here on the blog. Why? Because I am 46 and trying my best to do just that… age gracefully! Not because I want to look young, but rather so I don’t look ridiculous! The turning point? Age 40… obviously, that’s when “shit” got real – LOL!

I am proud to be 46. I never lie about my age; I embrace it and have moved into mid-life in good shape, happy, confident and aware of what I don’t want.  And as much as there are some “choice terms” out there for beautiful women in their forties and fifties, I am very aware of not trying too hard to retain my youth because I want my naturally sexy, sassy, sophisticated self to shine!  As with everything here on the blog, I am writing from personal experience and share what I see and hear, added with my years as a hairstylist and image coach. So with that in mind, I want to share with you some tips about aging gracefully that have worked for me!

Head to Toe

Hair Colour

Don’t colour your hair too light – bleached out (think Barbie), or too dark (think Goth).

Hair that’s coloured in either extreme can offset our skin tone, which is also changing as we age!

Do choose a hair colour that’s somewhere in the middle.

Your hairstylist can help you select a colour that you love and also suits your skin tone. Also consider adding hilites and/or lowlites for dimension and to make your style interesting!

Hair Length

Don’t follow the trends if they don’t suit your face shape.

For example, stick-straight hair is really harsh on an aging face as it is super “spikey.”

Do what suits your face shape AND your lifestyle.

Now is the time to add more wave, softness and volume to offset the thinning of our faces and loss of collagen in our cheeks. A good hairstylist can make suggestions and work with you to find the perfect style.

Skin

Don’t over-tan!!!!

I cannot say this enough. Not only does it cause skin cancer, we look OLD when we are over-tanned: lines are accentuated and then those dreaded WRINKLES emerge!

Do use a good quality self-tanner.

For the generation that grew up tanning with baby oil infused with iodine, it’s hard not to feel good without a tan – I totally get it! A self-tanner will give you a healthy glow. Enjoy the natural sun and get your Vitamin D fix safely with a sunscreen.

Face & Make-Up

Don’t use eyeshadows with extra sheen or sparkle.

Also avoid heavy eyeliner or extra bronzer (to make up for the lack of a tan – LOL!). To quote Robin Kaiser, an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist based in New York City, “what worked when you were 30 won’t work when you’re 60. As older women, we can still wear it all – eyeliner, shadow, lipstick, blush – but over time, you must lighten it up and choose your colours judiciously. Otherwise, you look ‘hard.’ And if you look ‘hard,’ you look old.”

Do use the “less is more” theory.

Choose soft shadows that are matte or have a subtle sheen. Instead of an eyeliner pencil, try using an angled brush with a dark shadow to line your eyes – it gives a much softer look. Pinterest is a great source for how to apply make-up, and it truly can make a world of difference! I personally am a make-up addict; there are usually 6-8 lipsticks or glosses in my purse at any given time!

Body

Don’t follow the trends unless they suit your body shape AND your lifestyle.

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” – Edith Head

As a woman in my forties, it is becoming harder and harder to find stores with clothes that I like, and that aren’t too “old looking” or “young looking.” It’s an awkward age to shop for when you still want to be current and stylish!

Do wear clothes that accentuate your best features.

Also remember to choose colours that suit your skin tone. If you are unsure, hire a stylist or image consultant to help you. Too often we have a closet full of clothes and still feel like we have nothing to wear. Hiring an expert will prevent this from happening and will actually save you money in the long run!

YES there are exceptions to all these rules. Some women can get away with doing their own thing, as wrong as it may be, and it works. For them. But for the rest of us, breaking these rules draws attention to us in less than flattering ways.

Victoria Baird works with professional and entrepreneurial women to discover their personal style, develop their personal image and brand, and build their self-confidence around their own natural beauty. Ready to get out of that rut, feel great about yourself, and stand out from your competition? Schedule a complimentary Style Success Session with Victoria here.