So, who would have thought that gray is the new black? It seems to be among the young Hollywood crowd. If Pink can sport it, why can’t I? Seriously, how cute is this? I know, I know it’s Pink and she’s 20 years younger, and a rock star. But still, it seems Hollywood is jumping on the silver hair bus. You think they’ve been reading my posts? Have I started a trend?
I have to say, I find this fascinating. What do you think? I’m thinking I’m a lot more hip than I gave myself credit for. (My kids will likely laugh when they read that line.) If these young girls are jumping on the silver bus, than this gal is driving!
Although, I can’t imagine any reason young girls would want to go silver – it may have something to do with the cougar thing. Perhaps younger girls actually want to look older. If that’s the case, hell has frozen over!
As I move forward in this journey, it’s nice to know I’ll have some younger company. Let’s see who wears it better.
Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!
By Nicki On December 5, 2012 20 Comments
Questions I have about changing my hair color:
1. Walking by a group of guys, gals and thinking, “Brunettes, blondes, redheads gets the looks. Gray heads- not so much.”
2. I will never, ever, ever be carded again except maybe to prove my AARP card is legit.
3. Will my current wardrobe go with my hair?
4. When I’m with my kids, will they think I’m their Grandmother?
5. What will the texture of my hair be like? Why do I have visions of the lady from Princess Bride? “Boo, Boo, Boo!” Wait, my hairdresser wouldn’t allow it. And seriously? Either would I.
6. Why do people keep telling me not to let my gray hair be long and stringy? Hellooo? I’m changing my hair color, I’m not changing my personal hygiene habits! And yes, I still do care about the way I look. (Argh, the stereotype continues to rear it’s ugly head.)
7. Will the color be a gorgeous gray or the mousy kind? If it’s mousy, can I bail out of this whole experiment? It’s my experiment so the answer is, “YES!”
So many questions and nothings even happened yet! A year? Wow…
Check out my column in today’s Naperville Sun !
By Nicki On December 2, 2012 9 Comments
Wow, wow, wow. Since posting my initial going gray journey, it’s been fascinating to read the responses both on Facebook and my blog. Some are shocked that I would even consider this, others would like to try it, but vanity prevents it. There are also a few that have never colored their hair, ever. In fact, they don’t understand why it’s even an issue.
Some of my friends have asked, “Now Nicki, why would you cover that gorgeous, thick brunette hair (now they tell me!) with dull, stringy gray?” While others have said, “Oh Nicki, don’t do that, you don’t want to do that.” I felt like I was letting them down in some way. Perhaps there’s a woman code that I’m unknowingly breaking. I suppose it just proves what a controversial topic going gray is.
But I keep going back to – if I feel fine with it, what difference does it make how others view it? But I’m beginning to understand that I care more than I thought.
I mentioned in my last blog that age and old are not synonymous. Surely, you know someone in their 30’s that acts old, or someone in their 60’s that is energetic as well as, wait for it, wait for it……gray! I am a true believer that it is your spirit that either ages you or makes you ageless. I bet we all know someone like that, despite their age or gray hair, their spirit is young and catching.
My kids tell me to, “Go for it.” While my Aunt reacted as though I told her I was going to cut off my pinky toes to fit in to a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, “Oh you’re not really, are you? How can you do that?” Very interesting.
I see a few grays peeking through since my last color. Hmmm.
Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!
By Nicki On November 27, 2012 26 Comments
With the recent news of the Patraeus affair, people are abuzz with disbelief. But the disbelief didn’t seem to stem from Patraeus’ behavior, more from the obvious contrast between his wife of 40 years, and his mistress. In fact, some were heard saying, “Well, no wonder he cheated on her!” Hmmm.
So, this got me to thinking. Was the shock and awe due to the gray haired Holly versus the brunette mistress 20 years her junior? Or, was it the contrast of thin vs. not so thin? Likely, the combination. But I wondered, if she were fit and gray would the reaction be different? Are we so used to women coloring their hair, that when we see gray hair on a woman we think she’s a lost cause?
As a 51 year old woman, I wonder if gray hair is an automatic sentence to frumpville? Does it mean women who are gray no longer take pride in how they look? Do they lose their fun factor? Why do I color my hair? To be honest, I can’t even recall why I started coloring my hair. I suppose it just was a natural part of keeping the aging process at bay, or at least preventing the perception of being old. Like most women, I look younger when I color my hair. But the real question, does it make me FEEL younger?
This past week I went in to get my hair colored, as I do every 4-5 weeks. I asked Terri, my hair dresser, my colorist, my stylist, “Why is it that when men start turning gray they’re distinguished? Whereas women go gray and we’re just old.” We both surmised it’s the aging thing. But wait, why is it an aging thing with women, but not men? Why does a woman with gray hair automatically become less interesting or less eye-catching? Why is there a negative vibe around aging for women? Lord knows, we spend loads of moolah in an effort to fight the inevitable. Yes, I’m guilty. Yet with men, put some decent cash in their bank account and they instantly become Channing Tatum, not fair.
So, this begs the question, as women of a certain age, why do we color our hair? Is it honestly just to appear younger? Does it then make us more attractive because youth is considered more attractive? Or is it a way of hiding something that’s not well received in today’s youth obsessed world? Perhaps all of the above.
But the question I keep coming back to is, does coloring my hair actually make me feel younger? Or or is it society’s perception of me and how I might be viewed if I were to go gray. Hmmm.
The more I started mulling this over, the more I started wondering how I might be treated as a silver goddess? I thought about people at the supermarket, a waiter at a restaurant, and new people I meet. What would it say to other people? Do I really care that much? Would my current friends treat me differently? So many questions surrounding such a small thing, hair color.
Ultimately, with all of this introspection, I have decided to visit my natural roots. I may not stay there long, but I’m willing to try. I guess in order to go gray more gracefully, Terri said there’s a process I need to go through. You can bet I’ll share all of those details and more as I go. With photo documentation as well.
As Terri and I chatted more deeply about my decision she asked, “Are you sure you want to do this Nicki? I’m not sure how much gray we’ll be dealing with?” That translated to, “Be prepared, you might not like what you see.” But why not? Is it because being gray will immediately catapult me to old? Will I actually feel older and maybe carry myself differently? Feeling more aches and pains? Kind of fascinating. Why do I assume that going gray will be a negative? I’m sure psychologists would have some thoughts on this. I’ll have to be sure and add some interviews about that on this blog.
I rather pride myself on being mistaken for someone 10 years younger, so this is definitely a tough decision. But in truth, if I FEEL young regardless of hair color, what difference does it make? Even before starting the process, I have a million questions on what will change when my hair does. I suppose I’ll find out.
As of today, I’m still a clear brunette. My family isn’t sure I’ll go through with it, but at this point, I’m so intrigued with the unknown, I’m ready. As of this moment, as a brunette, I believe that age and old are not synonymous. I believe hair color should have little to do with how I feel inside, it’s more how others perceive hair color. But perhaps these thoughts and beliefs will evolve along with my hair color.
So, here I go! Join me in my yearlong adventure. I’d love to hear from those of you that have gone gray and those of you who would spend your last penny on hair color before ever giving it up. I have no idea what to expect, hence Gray Expectations. This should be an interesting ride! Come on, hop in and buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a gray-t adventure. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).
By Nicki On October 6, 2012 6 Comments
This past week I celebrated another birthday. I say another birthday because it wasn’t a “big” birthday, it wasn’t a landmark birthday, simply a birthday that left me scratching my head and wondering, “Where has time gone?” It’s funny, I remember my Grandmother saying to me, “Don’t wish your life away, it moves quickly enough on its own.” I never really understood what it meant until I looked around and found my children grown, the veins in my hands more prominent and the wrinkles around my eyes deepening.
As I’ve gotten older, I hear more people say, “Ahh, to be young again.” Wait, beg your pardon? I am young! I don’t know about you, but the thought of going back to my high school days would likely be akin to rubbing salt in a wound, no thanks. It wasn’t that high school was horrible, quite the opposite, it was the foundation of some of life’s most important lessons. (I just didn’t know it then!)
1. You will not always fit in.
2. You will not be the prettiest, skinniest and most popular, most people aren’t, and the ones that are don’t always live the life we perceive.
3. Some people are mean.
4. Some people are kind.
5. Some people try so hard to fit in.
6. You lose some “friends” to the cooler kids.
7. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
The funny thing is, as I write this list I realize that even as a grown adult these truths haven’t changed! There’s still the cool crowd, still those that are prettier, thinner and more popular. People can still be incredibly cruel, but people can also be incredibly kind. There are adults that continue to try and fit in, and as an adult, I have lost friends to others that have something I don’t. C’est la vie!
But I smile because the beauty of now versus then is my world isn’t falling apart because of those realities. There are some situations where I still don’t fit in, so I don’t try. I’m no longer seeking to be the prettiest or the skinniest or more popular, funny perhaps, but at the end of day, the only person I have to please is moi.
I care that I’m a good human being and the rest plays itself out. At this age when someone is mean, I don’t take it personally. I’ve learned that mean people have issues far deeper than I’ll ever understand, so I hope that they can one day find their happiness and peace.
For the kind people, ahhh, those are the unsung heroes. I could hang with those folks all day, and I try to. With all the crap going on in the world, when you meet someone genuinely kind, you want to “have what they’re having” and hope it sticks. I have such an appreciation for kind souls that I couldn’t comprehend back in high school. Those people are nice because they want to be, not because they have to be.
Of course as we grow up (I use that term loosely), there are the ladder climbers. Don’t get me wrong, I am an entrepreneur, I know the importance of climbing ladders, I just don’t break the rungs below me.
What I love most about getting to this point in life is that friends are finally a choice, not a prerequisite. I pick friends who make me feel happy when I’m around them, and I hope I provide the same. I’m through with drama and gossip and all the other things that high school is known for. Unfortunately, there are still those who thrive on drama and gossip but it’s their choice, not mine. I can choose to walk away without fear of being kicked out of some club.
My friends are amazing, wonderful, smart and talented. The difference is that now I understand the real friends that I had in high school, and my real friends today are simply my mirror. Had I known that in high school, I would have appreciated myself so much more.
But I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to ease up on myself. When I think about how cruel I was to myself in high school because I believed I always fell short, is nothing less than heartbreaking. But I suppose that’s what lessons are for. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it.” Going on a Bear Hunt- One of my favorite children’s books.
To get to a point in life, where you suddenly realize you’re pretty cool and have pretty cool family and pretty cool friends without worrying about how anyone else defines cool is just, well, cool.
I love laughing, especially at myself for all the right reasons. I’m less concerned with my shortcomings, and more impressed with my strengths. I guess the beauty of getting to this point in life is that I now understand graduating from high school was much more than simply getting through 4 years, I earned a diploma in valuable life lessons that have stayed with me.
As I celebrate another year kicking, another year with family and friends, the lessons I learned in high school are far more important than any diploma. High school was not about the academics of readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic, more the academics of life. Here’s to high school!
Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!
By Nicki On August 16, 2012 2 Comments
ARGH! It’s happening, those annoying signs of aging. As an active adult, I’m convinced that all the positives steps I’m taking will avert natural signs of aging including, aches and pains, graying hair, disease and eye sight- just to name a few. The aches and pains I chalk up to my activity level, i.e. assurance that I worked out really hard. Graying hair, thank God for my hairdresser (though people tell me that hair dye can cause cancer, ‘sigh’). Disease, so far so good! But the eye sight, not so much. With all the carrots and Vitamin A rich foods I eat, really? Yes, really.
In the beginning I cursed the print in newspaper, ingredients on side labels and bottles wondering what a cruel trick to shrink the print to microscopic size. Surely it wasn’t my eyes, I’m a healthy adult! Others laughed and said, “Welcome to middle age!” What? I refuse to be a statistic! How could my eyesight be going? I’m too healthy!
As I struggled my way through newspapers, emails and magazines, narrowing my eyes in an effort to make sense of it all, I swore it was temporary, like the flu, “this too shall pass.”
Unfortunately, my vision refused to improve, words continued to shrink and blur. It was time to visit the eye doctor. After my exam, what did he say? “Welcome to middle age!” Almost grounds for a head butt. Mentally I’m not middle age, and physically I don’t feel middle age, how could my eyes betray me by becoming…. dare I say? Middle age.
But when you’re served lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade, right? The positive side to this whole shift is that dulled vision seems to soften everything. I can’t see the inevitable wild hairs on my chin that come from God knows where (except when using my 300x magnifying mirror, a blessing and a curse those mirrors). I can’t see the little things that used to bother me, dust bunnies, a wrinkle in a shirt, a chipped nail.
“Softer” vision is a much better substitution for middle aged eyes. The funny thing is, as I started thinking about softer vision it seemed to spawn a softer attitude. Things that used to bother me no longer do. I tend to worry less, and laugh a lot more. I find myself excited over situations that 10 years ago I would have thought boring. If the car in front of me doesn’t turn on their blinker, so what? If the person in front of me decides to write a check, carefully printing out each word vs. using a credit card, oh well. If I catch every single red light in route to my destination, so be it.
The softening of my vision has definitely spilled over in to softening of the “little things.” So, perhaps the vision thing isn’t necessarily a sign of middle age, simply a nudge to stop, smell the roses and soften up!
To Your Health,
By Nicki On August 14, 2012 No Comments
This past week we celebrated my youngest child’s 21st birthday. The event was incredibly special, and someone even commented, “Wow, if this is her 21st birthday, I can’t wait to see what her wedding will be like!”
Turning 21 is sort of a mixed bag. It’s the reminder that all the really big times in your life have passed, becoming a teenager, getting a drivers license and becoming eligible to vote. Then 21 arrives and it’s the first legal drink. Although the focus may be on that first legal drink, I think it’s much more than that. As I watched my daughter make her way through the evening, I sensed she realized the incredible opportunities that lie ahead, as well as the harsh reality that the journey to adulthood is just beginning.
For many, turning 21 may be the first “legal” drink, but likely not the first. So when that 21st birthday comes around, is the celebration really about getting an alcoholic beverage with complete permission? Or is it the fact that the first legal drink denotes the end of an era? Perhaps it’s both. It’s acknowledging and toasting to the end of college, and accepting that real world responsibility is just a stone’s throw away.
I see that first legal drink as much more than getting a legal drunk on, it seems to signify the last “hurrah” before getting down to business and seriously addressing, “What’s next?”
The evening of my daughter’s birthday, I couldn’t help but admire who she has become, and what amazing potential she has. For her, she may be feeling disappointment for all the college memories she’ll be leaving behind, as well as the worries about that first job, apartment, and real life adult responsibility. For my daughter and her older brothers, turning 21 was likely a time of introspection and melancholy. Funny, it seems to be the same for me.
By Nicki On June 21, 2012 No Comments
There is nothing more invigorating or gratifying than a great conversation with great friends. As I get older, I find that I love those friends that have willingly turned over the “age-fight” in exchange for embracing change, and the unpredictability of what’s next.
After more than 20 years in the fitness industry, I have encountered many women who feel the pressure of perfection. Rather than allowing the good stuff to overpower the not-so-good stuff, women focus on all the things they can’t change vs. the things they can.
It’s unfortunate that at every turn, today’s women are being preached to via magazines, websites and television shows on the perils of getting older, and aging is a bad thing. Women are expected to fight aging and regain their youth through a serum, pill, or whatever the latest trend is. When women succumb to popular expectations, they inadvertently lose the essence of who they are, relinquishing their ability to thrive.
Over the years I’ve held tight to those friends that make me laugh- a lot. My friends are are optimistic, confident, inquisitive, and need little to feel complete. I love when my friends challenge me to dig deeper, look for more opportunities to spread my wings, and become something more than the all too common empty shell. Far too many women are spending their energy on the shell and ignoring the most important part, what’s inside the shell.
For years I told my clients (when I was training), to work from the inside out, to dig deep for all treasure that is within and once that treasure is discovered, there’s nothing you can’t do. Unfortunately, the only digging that’s being done is on the outside, digging at their shortcomings and perceived limitations.
It’s actually sad, because absolutely every single woman I have ever met (despite what they believe), has buried treasure waiting to be discovered. Yet, they believe that the outside is reflective of what’s inside. They assume if they can’t achieve perfection externally, there is certainly no digging to be done internally. Again, sad.
As I move forward and write more, part of my mission is to inspire women to begin with internal changes, finding the happiness that DOES exist, exploring new opportunities vs. being limited by external limitations. It’s vitally important to surround yourself with those people that lift you up, not push you down. Enrich your life by staying with friends that downplay your imperfections, and focus on your gifts and encourage you to use them. As women, we should never settle, never compromise, and most importantly never give up our internal search for treasure, because it’s there.
I love my friends, I’m grateful for their respect, sense of humor, encouragement and acceptance. Those are the friends that are good for my health and act as my natural anti-aging elixir. I have come to understand that good health isn’t the result of one thing, i.e., exercise, nutrition, rather it is a compilation of things, one of which includes good friends.
You want to be healthy and age well? Surround yourself with good friends, they are the ones that see your potential and encourage you to seize it. I encourage you to dig deep for the buried treasure, it’s worth is invaluable, it’s effect eternal. Further, just think of the money you’ll save on anti-aging products. You can thank me later!
By Nicki On May 31, 2012 No Comments
During this past year, I’ve had some pretty major changes in my life. After 20 years of owning my own personal training studio, I sold it. I said, “good-bye” to some amazing clients and walked out of the studio and in to a new life. My youngest child will be a senior in college this fall (I’m getting a great big raise next year!) and I turned 50. I have spent the last 20 years doing something I absolutely love (personal training). But, I always promised myself that if the love factor slipped, I’d have to move on and find a new place that allows me to put my heart in to my work again.
Part of my new life is spending more time writing. Ironically, I never read a book all the way through (unless Green Eggs and Ham and Hats for Sale count) until high school, and that was simply mandatory reading- yawn. I really didn’t read much other than magazines during my school years. However, I spent much of my time writing loads of poetry (the woes of young love), lyrics to songs on my guitar, and of course my infamous novel about a blind boxer, as in fighter, not dog. Yes, I really did.
My point is that I always loved words, loved taking my thoughts and putting them to paper, not for anyone’s amusement but my own.
I use to spend hours listening to lyrics of songs and interpreting them into poetry of my own. (Fascinating the way a 7th grader interprets life). Communicating through the written word has always been a deep seeded passion. It wasn’t until I read a book by Amy Tan, (likely the first big girl book I read through) that I understood the meaning of “voice” as a writer. I was instinctively clear on my voice, and realized not only my writing potential, but I became acutely aware of the connection between reading AND writing. From that point on, I became a voracious reader which ultimately helped my writing. Even though I was a late bloomer, I now know it’s tough to be a solid writer if you’re not a solid reader.
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ~James Michener
I’m sharing this with you because very often we feel we have to stick with what makes sense and guarantees a living. I can tell you right now, when I started my business 20 years ago there was no guarantee that I would succeed. I had zero business background and was new to training. But, I was passionate about helping others discover good health and inspiring them to take action. Further, I believed in myself so it worked.
I now understand that my writing is no different. I write about things I am passionate about in an effort to educate others on the amazing opportunities life offers be it health and fitness, personal empowerment, or embracing the process of maturing. I’m alive when I write. I feel strongly that doing something you love, in an effort to educate, entertain, and in some instances inspire, can certainly evolve into a living.
I am looking forward to this next phase in life. I’m excited that I get to write more. I’m grateful to my Grandfather who taught me, “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new!”
The beauty of maturity is that you can take the wisdom garnered over the years to assess and noodle through new challenges and opportunities that come your way. I’ve had many people assume I’m retiring. Retiring from personal training for sure, but I am embarking on a new phase of life that I can’t wait to explore. Retire? No way. Aspire? Absolutely. I aspire to write more about the things that keep us healthy, strong and optimistic about life. I look forward to many new adventures, and I hope you’ll join me.
“You may not always end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you were meant to be.” J. Taylor
By Nicki On March 11, 2012 4 Comments
I admit, my first attempt at weight loss as an overweight teen was a diet. In fact, it was Weight Watchers. However, back in 1978, WW was significantly different. It really wasn’t a “diet” like we know today, it was an education in healthy eating, a healthy diet. For the first time in years, I abstained from eating fast food, started moving more and ate fruits and vegetables every day. Since that time, weight loss strategies and the ridiculous number of fast-n-easy diets has dramatically changed people’s relationship with food. Instead of discovering how food can work with their body, many people are fighting weight loss and food has become their weapon of choice.
As a senior in high school, I was 50 pounds heavier and on a 5’2″ frame, that’s just not healthy. I knew by how I felt, how I performed each day that something wasn’t right. To be honest, it wasn’t so much how I looked, but more about how I felt. Today, it’s all about how we look, how thin we are and health has taken a back seat. I look at movie stars, models and even reality stars and thin is the new black. The truth is that not everyone is meant to be skinny, and I mean skinny, not thin, Hollywood, Angelina Jolie thigh skinny. And women (and some men) buy into that look as a goal to shoot for. So, they jump on the latest diet that promises to slim your thighs, harden your abs, whittle your waist and remove cellulite. And because of the pressure to meet the expectations of an unrealistic culture, we diet, over and over and over again all in an effort to be- skinny.
Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in nutrition, how what we eat affects our body as well as our environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the evolution of nutrition over the years. Oddly enough, instead of our country creating amazing, healthy foods to make us smarter and leading edge, we’ve excelled in fast-food restaurants and processed food leaving us all unhealthy and overweight. We see high numbers of obesity, schools cutting out physical education and more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma. ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.
As my interest in nutrition has grown, so has the way I fuel my body. And the funny thing is I find myself changing and becoming more and more interested in listening to and trusting what my body needs to perform optimally. The way I eat is not designed to help me become thin, not skinny but healthy. Diets that I have reviewed over the years have one goal, to cause weight loss and longevity is irrelevant. These programs figure if they get people to lose weight once, they’ll come back. because they believed it worked before. Hmmm. Over and over and over again, people fall in to the diet trap striving for skinny, to achieve what they perceive to be normal. If only we could rise above the hold that diets clearly have on the 70 million Americans that diet each year.
I recently wrote an article on Plant Based Nutrition. I am a believer. Not only am I believer, I am gradually changing my lifestyle to accommodate more of a plant based diet, not weight loss, health based. Why? Because it’s more along the lines of how my ancestors ate and given the way our environment is constantly compromised, I want to select my foods based on how kind the food is to my body and to the earth. When I’m buying organic simply because it’s organic and dismissing the fact that it was sent here from Mexico or Chile, what kind of carbon imprint is that leaving? Further, how does the nutrition diminish during lengthy transportation? Wouldn’t it make better sense to buy locally even if not necessarily organic? We’ve confused organic with earth and health smart, not always the case.
Imagine if more people took up gardening and learned to eat seasonally vs. expecting perfect produce in the off season. Imagine how differently you would view food if you didn’t have to decipher ingredients on the side of a box that looked more like hieroglyphics versus real food. Eating for health truly is the key to ridding yourself of diets and hanging on to a healthy, strong body.
I believe it’s time to walk away from the world of diets that does nothing to encourage healthy eating options, simply calorie focus. It’s time to realize that if diets were great, obesity and disease would decline, not the case. Getting back to basics with a focus on plant based nutrition, locally grown produce, small farms we can support, we will not only find a wonderful difference in the health of our body, we will discover a great way to positively impact our environment.
Here’s to your health!