Secondhand is the New Black

More and more, you’re hearing about thrift shopping, clothing swaps and when buying new, investing in good quality sustainable clothing. The world is changing and for the better. Having an abundance of stuff is now considered by many as a burden and we are looking for ways to live minimally, mindfully, economically and ethically.

Fast fashion is on the out, and stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara and Joe Fresh to name a few are losing their luster quickly as more consumers become aware of the true cost behind purchasing cheaply made clothes. It is not reasonable to think you can buy a t-shirt for five dollars on sale and believe the person who made the same shirt received fair and equitable wages (let alone made the shirt in a safe working environment).

With our minds being inundated with information from social media, emails and advertising, people are finally waking up and seeing what really matters in life. We are seeing the impacts of fast fashion on this earth and how it is contributing to the destruction of our planet. Secondhand textiles are so abundant, there are not enough humans to wear all the clothing which is being given away. Think about that for a second; Westerners (in particular Americans & Canadians) are buying so many clothes and giving so many away, there are not enough people on earth to wear it all. What does that mean for the earth, well, it sadly ends up in our landfills.

Above is an image of a heap of second hand clothes not to be sold but likely to be burnt or put in one of our landfills. The amount of fast fashion being rolled out and purchased is not sustainable with an average of five wears before being tossed or given away…

The problem with fast fashion besides it being cheaply made, workers being treated poorly and given miserly wages, the real kicker is the average person wears a fast fashion purchase a maximum of five times before giving it away.

I was recently at Frenchy’s which is a secondhand chain in Nova Scotia, and I was floored by how many clothes on the racks actually had original tags, as in the clothing was purchased and never worn! Who has that kind of money to spend, when you are buying clothing, and either forgetting about it or changing your mind and then giving it away? Apparently, a lot of women do! I found a few JCrew items from last year with original tags. JCrew, which is generally not inexpensive to buy.

Pic from

While I was rummaging through the racks and bins at Frenchy’s all I could think was “why would anyone buy brand new anymore?”. It is completely unnecessary. I have been thrifting for years and when I first started which was in the mid 90s, it was slim pickings, unless you went to a consignment shop and the deals are not quite as good as the shop owner in addition to the seller (former owner of the clothing) are both getting a cut of the moolah.

Being thrifty is not the same as being cheap. Cheap is when you receive great service and give a lousy tip. Thrifty is when you are being economical and in the case of second hand shopping, you’re also being a conscious consumer and extending the life of a piece of clothing. You don’t have to go to a consignment shop anymore to find a designer label, lots of thrift shops will even receive designer bags like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, if recognized most shops will auction the items off and then donate the proceeds to the charity they represent. For example, Value Village supports Diabetes for Canada.

Even multi-millionaires do not see the purpose in always investing in brand new threads.

Just because something is on sale doesn’t make it right to purchase. I used to be a horrible sucker for sales and spending hundreds of dollars on stuff I didn’t need nor love.

Thrift shopping can be viewed as recycling clothing, but refurbishing something heinous and making it into something über cool like below is probably a bit more accurate. How I wish I was crafty with my hands, but alas I am not. Maybe, you are?

Carpe diem! It really doesn’t matter if you just want to shop the mish mash of thrift racks, recreate and design something yourself or maybe buying secondhand threads is just not for you, and you would prefer to donate to your local community center. It is all good.

I recently read an article stating that fast fashion will be a fading out completely in the next ten years. We can only hope this does become a reality.

Also, this blog isn’t to put anyone down who may love H&M, but rather to get you thinking and to educate you. Only a few years ago I was loving what I called “disposable fashion”, cheap and chic for those “I want, but just want to wear for a season”, but then I watched the documentary on Netflix called The True Cost and I was horrified by my ignorance.

I still have fast fashion items in my closet too, as I like a few items a lot and I will continue to wear them until they wear out completely or I donate them.

The smallest change can make a difference, especially if heaps of us are making small changes.

Peace and Love – Rachel

Shopping Ban Combination Update for February & March 2019

Let’s avoid the throat clearing and get straight to the point. I have been fabulously failing at sticking to my shopping ban rules for both February and March.

I feel like I am at confession and I feel rather ashamed for failing so fantastically. Where do I start? Let’s start with my kitty crazed obsession for silly T-shirt’s with “cat-tastic” expressions. I will not go into details and just post the evidence in order of purchase.

And last, but not least this one because I am getting married this June!

No need to comment. I know, I have a problem and it needs to stop. So, I failed with the no clothing purchasing unless for the wedding, I guess the one above could count as a wedding purchase….

In hopes of finding some inexpensive items I could use for my wedding day I went to a second hand store, Value Village, and I didn’t find anything wedding related, but I did find two sweaters which were like new. I know, I didn’t need them but I wanted them.

So, what is the above picture about as it certainly isn’t me, but is relevant to a purchase I most recently made. I “wanted” some new sneakers for walking but I also wanted something which was fair trade and ethically made. What a conundrum to be a shopaholic and care about the environment, they really don’t go together, I know… So, I bought a pair of Veja sneakers like the ones Meghan Markle is wearing. All the materials used to make the sneakers are sustainable and ethically sourced and well, I didn’t need them, but I got them anyway. Fail…

I have also failed at the brown bagging my lunches as I have been as lazy as a drunken slug. I haven’t bought lunches every day, but I have probably been averaging two bought lunches per week.

Above is one of my purchased lunches from my work’s cafeteria; it is a chickpea curry with lots of cilantro. At least I am making healthy choices right?

February was a very stressful month for both myself and Brian, and the weather was less than nice. Recently a Sushi restaurant opened near our building. The below has been happening a lot aka “take out”.

Do, I need an intervention? You tell me! Last week I felt a bit down and went into a local shop which carries fair trade products and locally made goods. So, the below also happened….


Not including the mirror which is an inherited antique; I also bought hygiene products I didn’t need to replace yet, but they are made in my own province of Nova Scotia (smiley face).

I promised to share every dirty detail and I think that is about it….

I am hitting the reset button as I have been actually doing the opposite of what I had intentionally planned and apparently the threat of public humiliation doesn’t inspire me to behave.

Let’s see what April 2018 brings… As February and March were really hard months this year, but no excuses… I know I am abundantly blessed and I was trying to soothe my soul with some good old fashioned retail therapy. Le sigh…

Peace and Love – Rachel

Drop it like it’s Hot! The Quest to Lose 20 Pounds in Three Months

I need to drop 20 pounds.  I am getting married on June 15 and I was worried about my dress fitting since my ten pound weight gain, and sure enough I couldn’t zip it up.  I bought myself a sample size dress from a bridal convention last year in 2018 and there is no ability to let the dress out, nor do I want to have the dress accommodate my bad habits.  The truth is I need to drop 12 pounds and fast, but I want to drop 20 pounds as I was feeling pretty great ten pounds ago and I know an additional ten will have me feeling fantastic. 

Selfie after an intense work out last Sunday.

As some of you may already know, I am a tall girl, I am 5’10” so I can carry more weight than most women I know who are substantially shorter than me.  It is all relative and each one of us has unique goals and unique challenges to face.  For me, my greatest obstacle is getting the nutrition piece right, but I have the exercise piece down. 

Video on YouTube of Tracy Anderson

I can run 5k no problem and I can go to a high intensity interval class and surpass a good number of tiny twenty something year olds who are just out of shape.  I would say I am in pretty good shape cardio wise and stamina wise, but I am not thriving with the extra weight I carry.  A girl’s size and weight does not determine her ability to kick ass at sports and other cardio activities.  There are larger women who attend some of my high intensity classes who put me to shame with their energy and strength.  Only you can determine what you want and what you are comfortable with shape and size wise.

Fat vs. muscle

I would say with the amount of time I put into exercise, the statement indicating weight loss is determined by 80% of what you eat and 20% exercise to be true.  At least, this is the case for me.  I could be mountain climbing daily and going for runs, but if I continued to eat the crap which I do, I would either gain more weight or possibly maintain.  I want to drop weight, so I need to get on board with eating a more healthy balanced diet.  I have chosen the course of Weight Watchers, it works when you do it, but I will say the Free Style plan has not been working as well for me, as I had dropped 17 pounds initially before it went to Free Style and then I was barely losing. 

List of zero Smart Point foods which means you can eat as much of it as you want & should not suffer the consequences of weight gain from these foods…

Moving in with Brian also played a role in gaining ten pounds of the 17 lost, as he has a wicked sweet tooth, likes his salty snacks (aka Kettle Chips!),  and likes to order in; all of this being stuff I avoided like the plague when I had adopted Weight Watchers lifestyle change into my life.  So, yes, Weight Watchers works when you do it properly and you track honestly. 

Weight Watchers meme

I had a good spell in January and dropped over five pounds as I was tracking daily and being very good, but February was an exceptionally stressful month for me and not that stress should be an excuse, but I stopped tracking what I was eating and allowed a few too many comfort foods back into the menu and naturally gained back the weight I had lost.  I am back at square one and I hope to keep the determination in check because as I grow older it seems like the stress just keeps increasing or continuing.  What I am trying to say is there will never be a good time to try and live a healthy lifestyle besides right now.  Also, maybe I wouldn’t have fallen into such a funk and depression for February if I had chosen to eat healthy. 

 What is my plan of action to drop 20 pounds? 

  1. Stay within daily allotment of WW Smart Points (SPs)
  2. Avoid using all dailies (35WWSPs)  within week
  3. Reduce carbohydrate intake; use points with non-processed foods
  4. Give up processed foods with sugar added
  5. Go to gym daily during work week; add additional floor routines at night (abdominals/Tracey Anderson floor routines)
  6. Go running or some exercise activities on the weekends


The gorgeous Tracy Anderson who is a personal trainer to Gwyneth Paltrow & Madonna

I do know I need to do the exercise piece in moderation as last Sunday I ran on the treadmill for 25 minutes, did 20 minutes on the elliptical, did a half hour of Tracy Anderson moves on my yoga matt (insanity!) and then walked for 80 minutes. 

I over did it.  I remained sore for three days later but I dare say it is my butt which hurts from Tracy Anderson as her moves are very unique from what I have been taught at my gym classes and she woke up some muscles I am pretty sure have never been worked before.  You can find heaps of videos of Tracy Anderson on YouTube which are free; she is great.    

There she is doing her stuff “TA”


Let’s see how this goes!  I will be updating weekly with my progress until June 15th. Would love it if you join me to drop 20 pounds like it is hot!

Peace & Love – Rachel

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