Shopping Ban Update for January 2019

On my way to work this morning, Brian cranked up Biggie Smalls “Hypnotize” as I am constantly singing the “refrain” (not sure if that is what you would call it).  The song put me in a great mood to start the day and of course Brian got a laugh out of my off beat groove moves.  Whenever I hear The Notorious B.I.G I think of how wealthy he was, yet he passed away way too soon; think about the music he could have produced if he had not been killed in 1997.  In thinking about his wealth, I reminded myself that I needed to update my readers about how I was doing with the Shopping Ban and how the month of January went.  I bet you are all dying to know! 


I was a bit of a hermit for the month of January and haven’t gone out with friends for dinner, but I did go out for two pints of beer with a girlfriend mid-January.  I was doing so well for not buying lunches (two per month was the allowance), but I had already bought two lunches in January and February 1st was so close, but it was pay day last Thursday and that means Turkey Day at the cafeteria, and it is a big honkin’ plate of turkey dinner with all the fixings, so I splurged for $10.34 (every penny counts!).  So, all in all not terrible, but not successful either, I would give myself a fail. 

 Above, the Turkey Dinner which took me over the edge for January 2019

I have abstained from buying any clothing as I don’t need anything and I have resisted all sales and temptation by not going into stores.  Once again, the strategy of avoidance works like a charm.  I have also not bought any new scented hand soaps, body washes, moisturizers or other toiletries most women delight in perusing at the drug store or grocery store, or God forbid Sephora, the greatest temptress of all!  

I did run out of my Rodan Fields (RF) kit which includes face wash, toner, moisturizers and a sunscreen moisturizer; RF is my skincare regimen and keeps me looking youthful.  The kit has been lasting me for three to four months as I only wash my face at night & follow the regimen, and then sunscreen in the mornings.  I did buy replacement Rodan Fields in January  which is expensive, but it is an investment for my skin and I don’t get Botox or fillers or anything like that.  

Suki’s Christmas present finally arrived in late January

I am allowed to buy gifts, and I bought Brian a pair of replacement jogging pants off of Amazon as he likes to wear these grey straight leg jersey cotton pants with a draw string when he is home chillin’ like a villain.  I also got my very naughty and bored Siamese kitty a Fox Den which I ordered on Amazon and it has already proven to be worthwhile as it entertains her in the mornings when we are trying to get ready or at night when we go to bed and she isn’t ready to settle down.  I also got myself a set of two eye shade masks for sleeping at night, as I now require to wear one in order to sleep at night.  Yes, it was ordered off of Amazon.

I said no more books as I can get them from the Library, but I failed again on this one, I bought three new books on traveling.  Brian and I are planning to honey moon in Austria, Prague and Budapest, so I got us “pocket books” we can pack with us when we travel to Europe.  Yes, I could say we need them, but I could have borrowed from the Library and taken notes, photo copies the maps.  Darn you Amazon!

 Yes, so in conclusion to this blog, I highly recommend NOT downloading the Amazon App, as it makes purchasing stuff WAY TOO EASY!    However, I do love it; such a conundrum.


I am giving myself a massive “F” for Fail for the month of January.  But,  you know what they say about failure, it is practice to be successful and fail forward.  We have the month of February, right?  Right!  I will continue to do my best to abstain from buying un-necessary stuff and if I do shop, I will be letting you all know every last dirty detail. 

Did anyone else join me in their quest to spend less money and reduce their shopping or create a “just say no” list  for shopping?  Let me know.  I showed you mine, now show me yours!  

Peace and Love – Rachel




What is Your Why for Losing Weight and Staying Fit?

I believe Simon Sinek, author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant is the one who began the buzz phrase “what is your why?” and how defining your why can lead you to success & satisfaction.

You can find a plethora of talks on YouTube by Sinek, but with a focus more on careers and helping organizations define their whys. I highly recommend checking him out.

Weight Watchers has jumped on the band wagon with the “what is your why?” reasoning and in this blog I will be sharing why I want to lose a few extra pounds & be fit.

There is the obvious “because”. Because I am not happy with how I look, and how my clothes fit me. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. If I am invited to the beach I don’t want to feel like I need to park my stuff as close to the water so I can quickly submerge my body under the ocean waves before anyone notices me running across the sand to hit the cool wet stuff. I want to feel confident in my own skin and presently I don’t. I have a lot of women tell me that I don’t need to lose weight and I am fine, but it is me who has to be comfortable with my body and presently I am not.

Because I saw how my aunt and uncle held off on traveling because of a career and then when my uncle was ready to travel my aunt remained obese but gained some health issues with her older age such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and strained mobility. My aunt never got to travel as they had originally planned and she passed away in her 70s. If she had taken better care of herself in her earlier years, she may still be around today & she most likely would have been able to visit the many countries she had always planned to visit after raising a family and my uncle retiring.

As I don’t have any children, I have done a lot of traveling in my past, but I want to be able to continue to explore this glorious world right up to my 80s if I am so blessed to live this long. I want to be strong and I want to be light in weight as extra weight is hard on your body and it also leads to a large amount of health issues down the road.

A couple of pics from my travels below:

Pic of cathedral in Köln, Germany

Pic of side street in Rotterdam, Germany

My biggest why is being healthy and mobile. If you are overweight when you are older you won’t be able to get away with the things you did in your 40s & 50s and it can make the last two decades of life challenging and miserable.

I have no idea what the future holds. I honestly don’t know if I will be able to retire by the time I am 60 or 65 with the way Canadian citizens are living longer and we struggle to maintain a healthcare system which is a right to all Canadians and not a privilege. I want to be the healthiest version of myself so that I am up to snuff if I have to continue working until I am 70 years old. I hope this isn’t the case, but I want to live as independently as I can without relying on the government.

My short term why is because I need to be able to fit in my wedding dress!

Pic below is an ill-fitting wedding dress which won’t do up & not a pic of me.

Because I want to hike a mountain some day like Mount Kilimanjaro.

Because I have a life partner I want to remain healthy and strong for, and I don’t want him to have to worry about me when we get older and my health. I want us to live independently for as long as we can and even if that means me having to look after him. I need to be healthy and strong, not bulked down by extra weight.

My fiancé Brian is below:

I also have family who live in South Korea and I need to be able to visit them and the flight from Toronto to South Korea is twelve hours. Traveling long distances takes a toll on your body & my parents don’t feel like they can make the trip.

Pic of my brother Stephen, me & my niece & nephew, Hannah and Noah

Yes, vanity does play a small role into my why, but more than anything my why is to be healthy so I can live a long healthy life of quality with the people who matter most to me and I want to travel the world till the day I die if I can…

I would love to know what your why is if you are trying to shed some weight or get in shape. What is your why?

Peace & Love – Rachel

Oh the Opulence at Incheon Airport…

One of the great joys of visiting an airport when traveling internationally is hitting up the duty free shops to bring back some unique snacks, alcohol and/or cool useful souvenirs. I have always marveled at the fancy shops I could only dream of shopping in if I were to make a six figure income times two as realistically a six figure income which starts with a one can only take you so far.

My trip from Daejeon, South Korea back to Seoul to catch my flight back home to Canada began in a modest two hour bus ride. We were all salt of the earth passengers on our way to travel to a variety of destinations.

As I had to arrive three hours before my international flight plus I have a great fear of running into issues at an airport, so I arrived four hours early. My plan was to window shop and look for some snacks I could use my last wons on like Pepero the Korean version of Japan’s Pocky.

Picture of Pepero I bought for Pepero Day which falls on November 11th

Unfortunately, the only snacks available for sale on Duty Free were in Costco bulk size packaging and not inexpensive (like double and triple the size of the above). I didn’t want to use my Visa as the goal was to use up my last few foreign dollars.

Picture of an oversized teddy bear in Incheon Airport

After eating rice minimally twice daily, I found a restaurant which was Italian and served beer. I was dying for some “western” food and Italian has always been my go to comfort. It cost a bit more than I would have liked, but it was so worth it.

After my belly was full of yummy pasta and beer, I was ready to hunt for some good duty free deals. I found none.

I did wander into Hermès to see if they had any pocket squares I could splurge on for my fiancé Brian, who has an infinite love for the small square cut silk fabric and I don’t think he owns any Hermès. I was ignored as a couple was buying a suitcase worth of stuff and not only that I couldn’t see any prices listed on any of the items, so I suspect even a small piece of silk fabric may have maxed out my credit card.

I did stop for a moment to listen to a string quartet set up outside of Gucci. They performed the theme song for Game of Thrones and were excellent! You won’t find this at the Halifax International Airport.

I puttered around and passed all the shops I could not afford to shop in, and concluded the Incheon Airport caters to the financially wealthy, which probably would exclude most, but clearly there is a market for shopping here.

Below are a series of shops you all know but rarely would visit besides to window shop:

Care for some Bvlgari?

If you do spend some money, you may be eligible for a tax refund…

Well, it was a beautiful Airport and I did partake in the fancy toilets or “washlets” which I believe are their proper name. I mean, even the seats warm up and there is a courtesy flush button which plays a recording of a flushing sound so if you are a self conscious “excreter” you are all set! Loud enough to cover up an indiscreet accidental flatulation aka a toot.

I spent my last wons on an overpriced fizzy water and some scrumptious cheese cookies. Walked around some more, tried to read and waited for my flight to take me back to Toronto and then my final destination in Halifax.

I took the above snap chat picture at the airport out of boredom… In a shoppers paradise an aspiring minimalist doesn’t have a lot to do. Fun toilets though!

Peace and Love – Rachel

When You Gain Back Weight You Worked Your Butt Off to Lose

Probably one of the greatest frustrations one can experience is “waking up” and realizing you cannot go back to old habits and if you want to continue to lose or maintain, you need to stick to the healthy lifestyle change.

I had lost twenty pounds by the time summer arrived last year in 2018.  My fiancé Brian was coming over regularly and we would have supper together, and then he would leave in the early evening to go home.  In September we bought a condo together, and ever since I moved in with Brian my weight has been creeping up.  However, I was able to maintain within a pound or two of the 20 pounds lost and then the holidays hit.  I was eating cookies, drinking egg nog and noshing on cheese (my favorite food in the world).  I gained a few pounds, but nothing to sweat or so I thought.  

Last week being the first full week back to work, I decided I was going to be a good girl, I was going to track what I ate and cut back exceptionally, and I did just as I said I would.  It wasn’t until last week when I noticed Brian has something sweet to eat with a coffee every night, and I had been joining him in his yummy excursions of nightly desserts.  I thought, oh, I can do this, I can have one cookie instead of two or three which I had been doing previously since moving in with Brian. 

I thought, I am good to go.  I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, but sometimes weight gain happens suddenly.  I mean, you are not going to gain a full 20lbs suddenly, but you may gain five or more suddenly and it is mighty upsetting, when the two to three pounds you were letting slide turns into a whopping ten pounds.  On Sunday, this is what happened to me.  I was devastated and angry as I had suffered last week, making all my lunches, bringing healthy snacks, saying no to the majority of treats and I was starving on Sunday, so I binged on some left over Christmas chocolates as I thought, why bother trying if this is going to be the result.  Keep in mind I had decided last week (also being one week) it was time to get back to tracking my food and counting my smart points a la Weight Watchers AND going to the gym regularly.

I thought back to when I first started Weight Watchers in October 2017 and how the weight came off, but in very small increments, two pounds here, one pound there, sometimes less than half a pound per week.  BUT it came off and it felt so amazing last summer and early fall 2018 running into people at the gym who would see me and say “you have lost a lot of weight and you look really good!”.  I didn’t realize how much a difference 20 pounds made on my 5’10” frame and also, it was super slow in coming off. 

It is tough as I worked really hard to lose the weight and now some of it is back, yet, I thought I could go back to some old habits such as having snacks while I watch TV and having a dessert every night.  Brian has a wicked sweet tooth and he always has a stash of wine gums or jelly beans which he breaks out daily and it is hard to say no, but I am saying no to his offers.  Sometimes, I snap back with fire coming out of my ears saying “NO!!!!!!”, but I can say no.  

People will say the 21 Day Fix and Weight Watchers are lifestyle changes rather than diets, and perhaps they are to some degree, as yes, you can have that 25 Smart Point piece of cake and use your “weeklies” to indulge, but add a couple of glasses of wine and an extra slice of cheese, and your weeklies are gone, and I only receive 23 Smart Points (SPs) in a day, so no, I cannot have that piece of chocolate cake unless I have been within 23 SPs every other day, and who wants to use 25 Smart Points on one small piece of cake?  It sucks and it is not fun.  I guess only ever eating healthy food every day with the exception of maybe one day a week is a lifestyle choice, but I don’t enjoy it. 

Yet, not loving your body isn’t fun either, and not being able to fit in clothing or wear certain clingy materials without looking like one of those dogs with all the rolls/wrinkles is disheartening.    

So, I am back on track again after my Sunday weigh in and chocolate binge melt down, and I will be weighing in every Monday morning.  My goal is to lose an additional 25 pounds as I was never quite done with the weight loss, but I was enjoying life with my fiancé.   I barely fit into my wedding dress when I was down 15 pounds, so I need to slim down more and we are being married June 15, 2019.  I am not buying a new dress, so I need to lose this extra weight and then some.  However, my “why” for losing weight is more than being able to look nice on my wedding day.  My “why” actually includes many reasons and a lot less to do with vanity. I will be on the lookout for yummy low Smart Point foods and if you have any suggestions of favorites to share with me, please comment below. 

 My “whys” for losing weight will be a blog for the near future. 


Peace & Love – Rachel


Shopping Ban 2019…

I have attempted a shopping ban a few times over the past few years, and I have failed.  I don’t think you can go hog wild on ceasing to shop all together unless you have a reasonable outline of what is allowed and what is not allowed, and you check in monthly for accountability.  I am feeling a lot more confident now in my ability to say no to shopping.  Part of the reason for my new found confidence is I realize how unimportant having material things are, and I have been practicing gratitude and I have a good understanding that I have some beautiful clothing, books, and stuff in general.  I honestly don’t need anything, besides my wee family.

Much of my inspiration came from Cait Flanders formerly known as “blonde on a budget” who paid off $30,000 of debt in two years. Reading her book “The Year of Less” opened my eyes to some of the reasons I used to shop so excessively. I would say five years ago I was definitely an emotional shopper.

Here is her book below and I highly recommend:

I have come a long way over the past five years where I would shop for the sheer joy of shopping and being able to have something new.  I wouldn’t even need anything new, and I would just mindlessly buy for the thrill of a deal.  You save 100% of your money when you don’t buy something on sale (I believe the Minimalists created this quote not verbatim).

I believe I have everything I could possibly need right now.  I was going to allow a new pair of sneakers to be added to the allowance list, but my Mom got me a pair for Christmas.  I am getting married June 15, 2019 and I already have my dress, and I do need a few things which I would be happy to borrow if I can, but may just buy if I have to, so these will be going on the allowance list too.  So, let’s see what is allowed.

My Christmas gift which I truly needed and will use below:

Allowance List for Shopping: 

  • Necessities (groceries, feminine products, replacement mascara, replacement moisturizer, replacement hygiene products, cat food/litter)
  • Gifts for others 
  • If it helps the environment & reduces waste (for example, I am planning on buying reusable produce bags so I am not using the one use plastic bags they give out at grocery stores)
  • Shoes/sandals for wedding dress
  • Cover up shawl for wedding dress
  • Might wear a veil for wedding
  • Hairdresser appointments
  • Second hand shopping for needed items (for example, a picture frame for a painting my friend painted of my two cats)
  • Dinner out with friends (no more than once a month; can invite over for dinner too)
  • One keep sake from each country Brian and I visit during our honeymoon (October 2019 is what we are aiming for)

Not Allowed:

  • Hygiene products unless they are being replaced (including: toothpaste, body wash, soap, moisturizer, make-up, shampoo and et cetera…)
  • Clothing (besides items for wedding)
  • Books (borrow from library or friends and read the many books sitting on my book shelf which have not been read or completed)
  • No more than one dinner out with friends
  • No buying lunch no more than twice a month (as I have to be realistic and pay day is turkey dinner day at my cafeteria for a great price!)


At the beginning of each new month I will report my success or lack thereof….  The goal in not spending is to focus on paying down my debt, and using plus appreciating what I already have.  I also want to reduce the waste I produce as most of us are aware of the harm plastic is having on the environment, and most especially impacting our oceans and the life within our waters.  I believe the luster of shiny and new is becoming dull as we enter 2019.  As we strive for more work life balance and simplicity we are understanding how having a lot is more of a burden and tying us down with debt, clutter, chaos and confusion.  So, my shopping ban is a little more meaningful to me this year with what I hope to accomplish and my ability to not only improve my life, but the world.  

Plan to spend a lot of quality time with these two:

I will update sooner if I fail, otherwise I will be checking in at the end of the month.

Peace and Love, 


The Number One Lesson of 2018 is Health is Everything…

The most important lesson 2018 taught me is nothing is more important than your health.  I have said it many times before, Health is Wealth.  Having a fantastic career is worthless without your health.  Having the financial means to travel, owning the opulent possessions, fancy cars, gorgeous mansions, it all means nothing without your health.  Having a beautiful relationship with another will be challenged without your health.  Having a gorgeous slender body is nothing without your health.  

 I cannot drive this point home enough to all my readers, friends and family, you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.  You need to look after your physical health and your mental health.

We can become so busy with life, such as working long hours, tending to young children or elderly parents, putting time into friendships and relationships; we forget about doing good things for our bodies, our minds and our souls.  We go to a doctor and receive a referral for blood tests, and we let a couple months pass by before we go in for that half hour wait to have blood taken within two minutes, and why do we wait so long?  What do we say?  We’re busy.

We don’t go to the gym at lunch hour because we’re busy and we don’t go after work because we’re busy or too tired.  We fuel our bodies with ready made junk such as fast food, or processed foods which are easy and generally cheap, because of our busyness, but at what expense?  Weight gain, fatty livers, oversized omentums, all the while fueling our lethargy and lowering our already damaged self esteems.

 I have watched my parents who are both over weight slow down rapidly and struggle with their mobility due to their age and then also for not being very active.  They eat a lot of processed foods now because it is easier than making meals from scratch.  I have preached and pleaded for the past two decades for them to become more active, to try and lose weight, to not eat junk food, to go for little walks with me and I see two beautiful parents of mine being trapped in bodies which continue to fail them.  I have seen men and women in their 70s and even 80s running marathons or walking marathons, and I want to be like that if I am so blessed to reach these decades.

In my 20s and 30s, I just wanted to be “hot”.  I wanted to be attractive to others, and I wanted people to notice me, to think “oh she is pretty and she looks good”.  Now, in my 40s, I just want to be healthy.  I want to be slender not because I want a “thigh gap” or to look amazing in a bikini, I want to be slender because I don’t want to be carrying extra weight around which my poor tender feet & joints have to carry around.  I don’t want to develop type two diabetes which my Mom has recently developed. I don’t want to have to go on cholesterol medicaiton or blood pressure medication.  I don’t want to be skinny, but I want to be strong, lean and healthy.  Now if I were to think of a compliments I desire, they would be, look at how strong she is for her age, look at how mobile she is for her age, look at what she can do for her age.  

I haven’t had the healthiest year for 2018. No, I am not sick, nor am I dying, but the future is unpredictable as it is in all of our lives.  I had my blood pressure checked and my doctor said if I go up any higher, he will have to treat me for high blood pressure.  I was devastated, but I plan to get it down through diet, exercise and having more calm in my own life, whether through meditation, or going for nature walks.  I am not sure how, but I am going to get it down.  I also had a mole removed shortly after my trip to South Korea, and it turns out I “had” melanoma, I had to be rescheduled for a second surgery to remove more skin and tissue from around the edges to make sure they got it all.  I used to use tanning beds in my 20s wanting to look like a blonde California beauty, but I am naturally pale, pasty and anything but sun kissed.

I am waiting for the second pathology report, and my surgeon is confident I will be fine.  I am scared.  I am not going to lie, I am scared.  Two weeks today have passed with no word, no news is good news, but we are in the midst of the holidays.  I won’t feel good about this until another two weeks pass.  Not knowing initially what the surgeon wanted to discuss when I received the call for the pathology report was absolutely awful, as I knew I had melanoma, but I didn’t know how bad it was, and my mind automatically went to the darkest place imaginable.  When it comes to cancer, there are no guarantees, and it disturbs me to no end that I had cancer on my body.  I am told I should be fine…  Still terrified.   We shall see.

Aging parents, melanoma, high blood pressure, a few more grey hairs and staring straight into the eyes of my own mortality, I realise now, all I want is to be healthy.

All I want is to be healthy and all I want for those I care about is for them to be healthy.  Nothing else matters.  I cannot love my wonderful, kind Brian the way he deserves to be loved if I am not healthy in my mind and soul and if my body is not healthy.  2019 is going to be about Rachel becoming the healthiest version of herself.  Losing weight to not only fit in my wedding dress (June 15, 2019 is the date), but losing weight to hopefully help lower my blood pressure.  I want to eat to nourish my body, not to just merely fuel my body.  I want to take care of my skin and for once not care about looking like I “got some sun”.  My healthy look is pale and pasty.

I also must ask God and many of you to forgive me for ever having said “I wish I were dead”, what a stupid, selfish thing of me to say in my moments of despair and first world problems.  Life can be incredibly hard and painful at times.  Life can be utterly unfair and cruel, but there is so much good out there.  I want to live as long as I reasonably can and I want to be healthy.

Me in South Korea in early November 2018.

2019 will be the year Rachel is a bit more wise and understands health is a gift, but I must work towards.

Think about the future, yes, be present, but if you have any health issues or concerns, do not delay addressing them. Your life is a gift, but good health makes life so much better.

Peace & Love – Rachel

The Legend of Pepero Day 11.11

Tomorrow in South Korea is Pepero Day. What is Pepero? It is basically Pocky as far as I am concerned, but don’t say that to any South Korean! My sister in law who is Korean is adamant that Pepero is different from Pocky (Pocky being the original chocolate dipped stick from Japan).

Pepero is a Lotte product and is specifically “Korean”. According to my research the cookie stick came into existence in 1986 and there are nine flavors, including a yummy cookies and cream flavor and a plain hollowed out stick full of chocolatey goodness.

The word pepero means skinny stick in Korean. The legend of Pepero Day comes into play here when supposedly two South Korean middle school girls were eating Pepero on November 11th and the one girl said to the other girl if we eat eleven Peperos at 11:11am in eleven seconds on the 11th of November they will grow up to be tall and skinny like a Pepero stick. It is a silly legend and most likely contains little truth to it, but it is also kind of cute…

Above two middle school South Korean girls in their school uniforms which is mandatory for all students to wear once they hit middle school and high school.

Why Pepero Day is on the 11th of November is because the said month combined with the 11th looks like the Pepero cookie sticks 11.11. It is basically a Hallmark holiday like Valentine’s Day (however there was a real Saint Valentine); a day to give your friends Pepero and eat as many sweet sticks to your delight.

I became curious about this fun day of cookie stick consumption when I noticed stores having an unusual amount of Pepero on display and gift packs which I did indulge in myself. I bought some for my niece and nephew and some to take back to Canada.

There are games to be played on Pepero Day and if you dare you can attempt a Pepero kiss; it is a bit like Lady & the Tramp in the spaghetti scene… You take a stick and share it as per the below advertisement and eat as much as you can without touching lips. Or maybe you do kiss? I am not sure…

You can buy K-pop Pepero designed boxes or what I purchased, the KakaoTalk friends.

You can buy elaborate gift sets of Pepero or some choose to empty a box and roll up wons instead. It is a day to exchange Pepero and related gifts to friends and loved ones.

It is a fun day for kids & and many make their own Pepero sticks and decorate them in colorful icings and sprinkles to exchange with friends and crushes.

All in all, Pepero Day is meant for fun & 11:11 has been known to be a magical number combination, and the time of day when you make a wish.

For those who may be celebrating; I hope you have a fantastic Pepero Day!

Peace & Love – Rachel