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.


The Difference a Year Can Make – Lessons in Life AND Business

On August 31st, 2015, I officially handed over the keys to the new owner of my day spa. That day was a weird experience. I was excited, full of anticipation of how my new career/business would unfold and develop. At the same time, I was sad to say goodbye to so many great clients, memories of how it all began, the good times, and funny stories that had happened there over the years. It was a day of mixed emotion.

The sale of my day spa is just one component. My family and I also relocated to a new town in June 2015, leaving behind great friends and a community I loved dearly.

For those of you getting these newsletters and following me on social media, you can agree: WOW a lot can happen in a year!! I have been blessed to moved into a great new community, launch a new career, make new friends, etc… you see the highlight reel. All the good stuff.

There has been lots of talk lately on how the “highlight” reel on social media feeds can actually make us feel bad about ourselves.

Yearcollage

Maybe you are anxious to get engaged and start a family, and while you seemingly wait patiently by the sidelines and nudge your boyfriend to buy the ring, everyone else you know seems to be getting married or having their first baby. UGH it isn’t fair: when will it be my turn?! you think.

Are you struggling to make ends meet financially, and it’s depressing to see posts of friends traveling the world, going to exotic places or even having a dinner out? I mean sure, you are happy for them, but you deserve it too!

I am one of the most upbeat, positive, happy people I know, and yes – this past year has been marvelous, but I have also had struggles. As an entrepreneur, I can tell you it is a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs.

I choose to show my highlight reel on social media: all the good stuff, the celebrations of my hard work and perseverance.

What you didn’t see is me sobbing uncontrollably driving away (and for hours after!) from appointment with the lawyers to close our previous home. We carried both homes for 4 months and I didn’t realize how much emotion this would bubble up. The finality, knowing I couldn’t just pop up the road to my friend’s house for an impromptu tea and a chat. I felt fear of the unknown.

I began online certification courses in September 2015. Every day for the first month my husband would come home for lunch and I would be waiting for help, frustrated and ready to throw the computer out the window! The course load itself was fine; it was my incompetency with computer programs I had never needed to use before that was literally driving me crazy! I felt inadequate and stupid.

Same goes for joining a tug of war team, as well as a ladies dance troupe, to meet new people. I felt clumsy and awkward.

Heck, even the grocery store was set up differently to my old one. EVERYTHING was new and I was a novice at it all. My normally adventurous self was taking a beating, and it wasn’t pretty.

And for the first time in 28 years I felt lost. By December my courses were complete, Christmas shopping was done, and my business was not yet launched, so I was client-less and stir crazy! In previous years, I would have been running around the spa like a chicken with its head chopped off by that time – crazy busy and exhausted while wishing for it to end. Be careful what you wish for!

I felt lost and frightened. My confidence faltered and I began to second guess myself. Some days I only drew comfort knowing I could cook a good meal and keep a tidy home.

I am persistent if nothing else!

Every day, I woke up determined to keep on going. I soldiered on, and slowly but surely everything became easier: I was getting better! My confidence returned and the adventure became fun.

My persistent nature, consistency with executing “the plan”, and willingness to try new things, whether in business or pleasure throughout this last year, is what has brought all the cool, new opportunities into my life.

My motto – feel the fear and do it anyways!

Guess what?

  • I have made new friends and maintained friendships with many whom I care so much about and we still get together for tea… the only difference now is we just have to plan ahead!
  • I have gained new clientele from across Canada/U.S.A. and stay in touch with some former clients through Facebook/email, or get a big hug if we bump into each other at the mall!
  • I can now troubleshoot many of the computer techy issues myself!
  • My tug of war game has improved and it will continue to be a work in progress.
  • Over 600 people, over 3 nights, paid to watch me dance in a community fundraiser with the ladies dance troupe! What a blast!
  • I easily maneuver through the local grocery store these days and despite clumsily knocking over an entire aisle display of birthday candles, I became friends with the owners who had a good chuckle that day!

My mission or personal mandate when I launched this business, began blogging and creating buzz on social media, was to be a woman first and an Image Coach second. To some this may seem a backward approach in growing a profitable business, but I am passionate about creating a community where women empower women. To see higher potential in yourself, to inspire action or to love yourself in this moment today while on the journey to becoming the next version of you!

What I know for sure is we are all more alike than different. We all have the ups/downs in life, it depends if you decide to tackle them or let them tackle you that dictates your outcome and future.

Cheers to all of us in the game, ready to rumble and make our dreams come true!

Remember that you are beautiful!


Effort is Attractive: 7 Tips to Avoid “The Trap”

When you start a new job or open a business, things are always so fresh and exciting at first! Your mind is full of cool new ideas. You know, with full conviction, that you’re going to make your mark on your industry. Sure, there are obstacles, but you can conquer them and boy, you look good doing it, too! Coming to work, attending meetings and conferences with your hair coiffed, nails polished and dressed to impress. No one can stop you, except you – when you fall into “The Trap”.

Trap? What trap?

I’m talking about reaching your comfort zone… aka falling into “The Trap”.

Here’s how it happens: your career is humming along, your life feels balanced, you have a good rapport with your clients and coworkers, and you’ve hit certain goals that you’re really proud of and happy about. You’re feeling good about yourself and life in general, so you decide – subconsciously – to ride it out for a while.

caution

How do you know you’ve fallen into “The Trap”? When bit by bit, you start letting yourself slide by thinking things like“No one else dresses up in this office, so why bother?” or “Ugh, it’s Casual Friday anyways – jeans and a messy bun will do,” or even “I’ve had this client for years; they won’t care how I look.”

Hey, I get it, I’ve been there myself! It’s a nice, comfortable and easy feeling.

Breaking News…. your appearance matters!

What got you to where you are now in your career is not going to take you to the next level. People notice when you show up as your best self and they notice when you don’t. This is not ego, this is reality! I just read The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and this particular line stuck with me:

Appearances matter. If you want people to judge you for what’s inside,

don’t let them get confused with the outside.

If you are happy with your current reality, happy with the status quo, that’s great – no need to read any further! But if you want to stand out from the competition and go above the norm, here is the best advice I can give to get you back on track:

Effort is attractive – jot these words down on a sticky note and attach to your bathroom mirror. It all boils down to effort.

Whether it is within our workplace, business relationships or personal and romantic relationships, effort is attractive and key. Effort in how we present ourselves is the quickest, simplest way to increase attention towards who you are!

1. Get a decent night’s sleep.

7-8 hours is what research suggests the average person needs to maintain good health. Routine sleeping patterns will keep you looking fresh;feeling energized and maintains more brain power!

2. No extra snoozing.

Get up with your alarm! Allot yourself enough time each morning to properly get ready for the day ahead. That means no more ponytails or applying mascara/lipstick in the car at stop lights! Have an outfit picked out the night before to alleviate some time in choosing. Calmly beginning your day sets the tone for next 8-10 hours.

3. Pre-book grooming appointments.

Haircuts, waxing, manicures and pedicures can all be booked from one appointment to the next. This habit alone will keep you feeling and looking better, which builds your self confidence.

4. Don’t wear clothing that is worn-looking, stained, missing buttons, or in any state of disrepair.

Toss it! Same goes for shoes, boots and purses.

5. Smile!!

Even if you don’t feel happy. A smile goes a long way, makes you more approachable, likeable and it shows effort!

6. Say please and thank you.

Good manners are very much in style. Be fashionable: use them and earn the respect from those around you.

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

Often, I hear women say they don’t want to stand out, they would rather blend in. This breaks my heart! You were born to stand out, not to blend in! Besides, if you want to advance in your career, you need to stand apart from the competition, get noticed, get promoted, gain higher level clients, and earn more wealth!

Above all, remember that you are beautiful! Do you have questions about how to stay out of “The Trap”? I work with professional and entrepreneurial women who want to kick their style and their careers up a notch. I’d love to chat with you – just click here to be taken to my calendar and 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.


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.