“What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state that it delivers”

“What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state that it delivers”

James Clear (Atomic Habits)

I’ve just started reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I came across this line in chapter 3 and I stopped dead in my tracks. That understanding for me is what enabled me to give up smoking and to begin and sustain an intermittent fasting lifestyle. This week it has been 7 years since I gave up smoking and I have officially lost 5kg’s and dropped a dress size in less than 2 months. Both achievements required a change in mindset in order to effect a change in habits and achieve a desired change in state.

In order to change my mindset, I asked myself: “what did I do before I developed the habit?”. The reality is that I didn’t always smoke and I wasn’t always fat. I realised that I had started smoking for a particular reason but the habit embedded itself for very different reasons. Reasons and beliefs that I created that actually were not true. I just used them to justify my behavior. The same is true for why I have remained fat for the last 6-7 years. The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t always this way and I didn’t have to be this way any more. Once I acknowledged and accepted that, I was well on my way to kicking my bad habits to the curb!

Let me not lie, I still find losing weight harder than giving up smoking. That desire to snack is way harder to kick than the desire to smoke. I thought I loved smoking but my love for smoking was nothing compared to my love for snacking. The truth of the matter is that I was never a snacker when I was thin. I became a snacker because I wanted to emulate the behaviors I read about in magazines. I wanted to be able to say that chocolate and wine was my “fix” in times of stress for example. Reading a book used to be my fix and it worked perfectly for me but noooo, I had to fix what wasn’t broken because I wanted to be someone I wasn’t, and it got me fat and unhealthy.

I am happy to report that I have gone back to reading as my fix. I am in my happy place when I have a book open in front of me. I am in my happy place when I am learning and “exploring” through books. I don’t need anyone in that space and I don’t need snacks or cigarettes there either. I am blissfully me. Now if only I can remember how I used to occupy myself while thinking and working before I developed the habit of snacking. Maybe I just chewed on a pencil 🤷🏽‍♀️. What is that change in state that snacking delivers that I crave? I’m sure I will crack it soon enough. Maybe the rest of the book “Atomic Habits” will help.

At the end of the dusty day, I guess it’s quite clear that I developed bad habits trying to be someone that I am not. Why? It never occurred to me that I was perfect as I was. I didn’t appreciate those moments when I was happy and kept trying to create a cooler version of myself that I thought people would love more. Well that hasn’t worked😜. So I am going back to being me. To doing the things I have always loved and tough noogies for those who think it’s uncool. I love me! In the words of Susan Cain:

“The key to everything: give yourself permission to be who you really are.”

Well there you have it. I started writing about changing habits and ended with a declaration of love for myself. Lol! In all serious though, how many habits have you developed trying to be someone that you are not just because society made you feel like the “original“ you was uncool? Give yourself permission to be who you really are. Who knows, some of those bad habits might just fall away of their own accord. Besides, you are cool as you are.

Let me get back to my book. Thanks for meandering down this lane with me. I hope it helped you unpack some things about yourself and why you do the things you do like it did for me. Stay grounded. TTFN


Skin care: If I knew then what I know now

I always found skin care quite daunting until I started working in the industry. In this post, I share with you the basics which will help you keep your skin looking and feeling great.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of sharing a few basic skin care tips at a friends Make-up Workshop. It reminded me that not everyone automatically knows how to look after their skin. I have had the pleasure of working in skin care for over 15 years and that’s when I really started learning about my skin and how to take care of it. Not that I started implementing what I was learning then (silly me). I did eventually though after a bout of adult acne. The difference shows. In addition a visit to a consumer about 10 years ago made me start taking my skin care routine really seriously. I’ll share the story with you a little later.

The Basic Steps for Good Skin

There are a few basic steps that one must follow to have good skin. While genetics do play a role, the environment in which we live does take it’s toll on our skin and these few steps will go a long way to help counteract these effects. This steps aren’t exhaustive and do not necessarily apply to severe skin conditions. For severe skin conditions it always best to seek advice from a dermatologist.

So how do you keep your skin looking and feeling healthy you ask. Well, those 3 steps that you keep hearing about are your starting point.

Flaming cleanser dispensed into ladiy’s hand
Image: Canva

1. Cleanse – cleanse your face daily. Cleanse at least once a day. We are exposed to so much dust, exhaust fumes and other sources of pollution at every turn and it is important to remove them from your skin daily. Let’s not forget all the make-up that people wear today. I must admit, I suck at make-up application generally so I often watch make-up artist’s tutorials with great fascination on IGTV. I am always awed by the art form that make-up application has become and amazed at the amount of make-up it takes to achieve the beautiful results I see. Make-up users definitely need a pre-cleanse step!

So what do you cleanse with? A face wash or a cleansing milk is a good place to start. Avoid toilet soaps if you can afford it as these soaps tend to be a bit harsh for your face. A facial bar is often milder than a toilet soap though but your mildest options tend to be facial washes and milk cleansers. For your pre-wash/make-up removal, use wipes or a micellar water or an oil-based cleanser that dissolves your make-up and makes it easy to remove without tugging at your skin.

Image: Canva

2. Tone – This is the step that we often miss out on. I am often guilty of this. This step helps remove any residual cleanser left on the skin and prepares the skin for your moisturizer. It also adds to that refreshed feeling on skin after cleansing.

Toners should ideally have low to no alcohol as alcohol can dry out your skin.

Image: Canva

3. Moisturise – Your skin type and your skin’s specific needs will determine what moisturiser you choose. Which ever moisturiser you choose, try to ensure that it has an SPF of at least 15 in it and it should also have UVA coverage. Look for broad spectrum coverage. Do also give your skin a light massage when you apply your moisturiser.

Which brings me to what should now be called the 4th and probably most important step if you want to age well 😜. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Apply sunscreen all over your face, neck and décolleté. Even on the tips of your ears. Do it all year round. All 4 steps should be done on your neck and décolleté as well. Trust me on this one or you will end up with a young looking face as you age and a collection of scarves and polo necks to try and hide the fact that your neck and décolleté have aged very differently.

Let me share a little story with you that really gave me a wake up call about the importance of skin care. I once went on a consumer visit to chat to a lady about her skin care routine and needs. (This is my favourite part of my job by the way.) The lady happened to have a twin who was not there at the tome. The lady we spoke to had the most beautiful facial skin. She was in her late 40’s or so but her skin was so smooth and even in texture and tone. She told us how she stayed out of the sun as much as she could and wore a sunscreen and hat and she always followed the 3 steps at minimum. Then she showed us her neck and chest and spoke about how she regretted not giving that area the same amount of attention as she did her face. It clearly had sunspots and her skin’s texture was not as even. Alarm bells went off in my head because at the point I was barely keeping up with the 3 steps on my face on a daily basis. 🤦🏽‍♀️ Then she pulled out a picture of her twin sister who was a sun worshipper. Well! Her sister looked way older than her and had her skin was mottled with sun spots and appeared uneven in texture. As you can imagine, I ran out and bought sunscreen that very day. I now wear it religiously every day and actually panic when I forget it. I am still not in the habit of applying it through out the day ( as I should because I sit near a window at work) but at least I apply it in the morning. 😜. The gist of the story is that sunscreen is a must. There are quite a few on the market now that are transparent so you don’t need to worry about the white residue or film left on your skin if that’s your concern.

But wait…that’s not all you can do

There are 3 additional steps that one should take as well.

  • Treat with a serum especially if you have a particular skin concern. The actives in serum tend to be more concentrated so you should use it at night. Some concentrates can make your skin a little thinner so you must use a sunscreen to get maximum benefit from it. The eye are also needs special treatment with an eye cream to help keep the skin moisturised and to help with dark circles.
  • Exfoliate about once a week. Not only does your skin look and feel so smooth afterward but it removes the debris from your pores reducing the chances of having a break out and it also prepares your skin for the the moisturiser or treatment you will us next. In fact it is a great thing to do just before you pamper your skin. Which brings to my final step…
  • Pamper your skin at least once a week or once a month, depending on your needs and means. Try a sheet mask or during avo season, make an avo mask. If you can afford going to a salon for a facial regularly then go for it. Don’t forget to give your skin a good massage a well as when you pamper it.

And don’t forget your sunscreen…

That’s it for the skin care basics for now. Technically that was 8 steps in all: pre-cleanse, cleanse, exfoliate, tone, treat, moisturise, pamper, sunscreen. I guess the Korean 10 step routine is not that far a stretch. I hope I did’t teach you anything new because it means you are taking great care of your skin already! Well done to you! If you aren’t yet, now is as good as any time to start. Next month I will share how to go about choosing a cleanser and moisturiser for your skin. Once we are done with face care, we will chat about body care.

Thanks for reading. Please do like and share if you enjoy it or feel someone you know may find it useful. Once again, if you have any type of skin condition, it’s best to get it looked at by a dermatologist first get their guidance on the right types of products to use on your skin.

Have a fantastic week and don’t forget your sunscreen!

Quote of the day: Motivational Monday

“Always ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.”

___ Paulo Coelho

Large orange flower
Quote by Paulo Coelho. Image from Canva. Created by Grounded African

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