Evolve or Repeat

Do you start a diet or make other significant changes at the beginning of the new year? Sometimes it is indeed a good idea to change the course of your life. When we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we will continue to get what we’ve been getting. If we want a different result, we must change our habits.

The day was warm and bright, so I wanted to wear light, cheerful colors. The jacket and the pants are both from Chico’s. The tank is old from White House|Black Market. The shoes are by Rockport. The bag is from Neiman Marcus Last Call. The sunglasses are from last year by Balenciaga.

It has been fun to read the guesses about what I’ve been doing during my break from blogging. So far, no one has gotten it right. I’ll share some of the funny comments and tell you the real reason for my break on Wednesday. Today I want to share my most important message with you. The person in the photos above has a headache, but it will turn into a raging migraine within the next few hours.

On Saturday, Mr. Mickey wanted to treat me to a relaxing lunch in the Biltmore Inn library. I had high hopes that the headache would disappear and that I could enjoy seeing the Christmas decorations and relaxing in front of the fireplace to Fred’s piano playing. (Fred is the gentleman who plays the baby grand in the lobby/library.)

The gifts under the tree were all items that children might have received for Christmas a hundred years ago.

The gingerbread house above is a replica of the gatehouse we pass through when we enter the Biltmore Estate.

This person is suffering from a migraine brought on by processed foods, cheese, wine, too much work, and too little rest. Before I learned what caused my health issues in 2011, I was a hot mess. As I upgraded my choices of food, my health started to improve significantly. I lost more than forty-five pounds in six months, but that was not the purpose of the changes I made.

During this holiday season, I attended too many functions where there were only poor choices of food. Considering that I did not plan my meals very well, I ate the wrong foods in small quantities, thinking that I could handle it. I was wrong! Inflammation, skin breakouts, a rash, swollen painful legs, and migraines were the “rewards” for my indulgences. If none of the other information I share resonates with you, I hope that my message to eat what is best for your unique body in small quantities, drink lots of water, and incorporate as much movement as you can into each day are what you implement. Our best health begins with what we eat, and it is the greatest treasure in life.

  1. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! It’s amazing how good or poor choices in our lifestyle and what we eat can affect our health so much. Well done for finding what works for you!
    All my very best wishes for 2019 to you and I like to visit your site and read all your fashion and health tips! Thank you!

  2. Can you please help with your nutrition choices? I have inflammation and migraines (and little rest) too. Thank you. I already make your porridge for breakfast most days.

    1. The correct foods will vary according to what your body can tolerate. My best choices include plant-based foods served in their least processed state. The more ingredients you add, the more problematic the dish may become.

  3. Thank you Susan for another year of helpful and interesting blog posts full of fashion “do’s” and personal anecdotes! You are a very special person in your self awareness and desire to help other women find their own self awareness. May the new year bring great joy ,success and happiness to you!

  4. Wishing you and Mr. Mickey a Happy New Year! I can sympathize with you on the migraine, I get them also. Healthy eating to you!

  5. Susan, I know you have reminded us of healthy eating repeatedly, but because we are human, we really do need to hear it more than once.

    Last evening, while watching the Eagles win, I had a glass of beer (which causes joint pain for me.) At 2 this morning, that joint pain woke me from a sound sleep.

    One has to wonder when the message will finally sink in. So thanks for reminding me again.

    I very much enjoy your posts on clothing but find myself really zeroing in on your healthy eating advice. Keep up the good work.

    Happy, healthy New Year to you and yours.

    Beth from Philly

  6. I am sitting here this morning suffering from holiday indulgences. Ready for the new year and getting back on track. Thank you for the reminder. Wishing you a happy new year!

  7. I’m so sorry you were feeling badly. I thought you had a busy Christmas season and were taking a needed break with a nice little vacation somewhere warm and sandy! Isn’t it frustrating that we all need to remind ourselves constantly about following a lifestyle that will bring us happiness and health and rejecting those things we know will not bring us those things! I also indulged way too much this season. Now I’m paying for it with stiffness, achiness and weight gain. I kept telling myself it was just a little bit of sweets. Well, it was too much! Back to a lifestyle that makes me feel good!!! Wishing all of us a good start to the New Year.

  8. I too have suffered some, I have celiac, lactose intolerant, and sugar pushes any issues into hyper speed…..hope you feel better soon……to good eating!

  9. Susan, thank you so much for this post. You see, because of finding you almost 2 years ago, I changed to the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. I lost 35 pounds, 30 points off my blood pressure and 75 points off my cholesterol…not to mention no more acid reflux, knee pain and headaches. For numerous reasons, this holiday season has been tough on my nutrition choices and I have back slid. I have been beating myself up about a few pounds of weight gain but am getting back on track. You are a wonderful inspiration and it helps me to know that even you, my wonderful mentor, have had a few bumps in the road, too. Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!

  10. Susan, I have been following your blog for several years now. I love all your tips and especially your transformation by eating healthy. I purchased the book Eat to Live and am looking forward to reading and making better food choices my new habit! I suffer with an autoimmune disease and have recently gained about 30lbs which makes me feel miserable. You are inspiring!
    The Biltmore looks beautiful; hopefully my husband and I can visit it sometime.
    Thank you for sharing your expertise with us!

  11. Happy New Year Susan and Mr. Mikey.
    I enjoy your blog very much. I have learned a lot about what to embrace in clothing and what to avoid.
    Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this blog and your research. Your efforts are very much appreciated

  12. I am so sorry to learn that you have not been feeling well. You deserved a break, a REAL one… As I was reading your post and the related comments, a light went on in my head — finally… I have been suffering from arthritis that has been manageable up to now but increasingly debilitating. Removing processed foods might be the solution!!! Thanks once again, Susan… You are an angel!

  13. Hope you are feeling better! Happy New Year!

    Ps not sure about guessing what you have been doing….maybe finishing selling your business and moving into a new home?!

  14. I love your blog. I retired at the end of 2017 from a position that required me to dress professionally everyday for 31 years! Your casual style has been a godsend to me as I had never perfected a casual wardrobe. Keep up the good work and have a wonderful New Year.

  15. I am so sorry you are not feeling well. I have missed your blog posts and appreciate your message even though you are not feeling well. I agree wholeheartedly with you about a proper diet and exercise. I was vegetarian and then I decided that being a vegetarian was not healthy for me because of the dairy products. I have been vegan for two years and I feel better than I have ever felt. I just turned 69 in December and I look forward to many years of being healthy!

    I always look forward to your posts and identify with you in many ways. I wish you health, wealth and happiness in the new year, Jan

  16. Hi Susan, First let me tell you how much I enjoy your website……I also get OCASSIONAL migraines and have been prescribed MAXALT by a neurologist. The results are amazing: within 30 minutes it is usually gone. I know we are all different, but just wanted to share in case you were not aware of this. I also know most of your wine was probably consumed at parties/public places but I was just made aware of a”sulfite remover” for wines. It is called The Wine Purifier (ULLOWINE. COM) which filters (with little filters) one’s wine. I have friends that actually bring it to restaurants and use it or have it used….that depends on how much of a “fuss” one wants to make!! Anyway, take care of your self and rest up….I want to keep enjoying your blog….. I do live in NC; I will also be turning 80 in 2019—-I can’t believe I just wrote that!!! True but WOW! Wishing you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR…..

  17. Happy New Year, Susan & Mr Mickey. Thank you for all your wonderful blogs, I open them as soon as I see them pop onto my phone! Truely inspirational and so very helpful. Have a happy and healthy 2019.

  18. Happy New Year and hope you are feeling much better soon! I think your outfits are lovely and I wish that I could wear shoes that go so nicely like you do. But having plantar fasciitis my footwear is restricted. I wish someone would design comfortable, supportive shoes/sandals etc that don’t look like a grandma’s shoes from 100 years ago!

  19. Hi Susan,

    Your words are very encouraging and your appearance inspirational. I mirror much of your presentation. Oft-times I see you in an outfit and realize that I have similar items in my closet but hadn’t thought to put them together as you have.

    My mantra which I politely try to mention to my transgender sisters often falls on deaf ears. Still, I don’t ever criticize verbally but simply try to lead by example. I often speak about your site but so far I haven’t heard of any response.
    I’ll keep trying because you are so inspirational, not just in you appearance buy also in your approach to life.

    Katie Thomas

  20. Hi Susan, all the very best to you for the New Year. I live in Queensland Australia and it’s very hot here right now, like you I worked something like 60 hours a week until I had a heart attack and was also diagnosed with an under active thyroid so I would love to hear how you managed to lose so much weigh over a 6 month period.

    All the very best, Marie

  21. I do hope you are feeling better. I wish you a very Happy New Year. I do know so much of how you feel is based on what you eat. I am going to try to eat better and lose some weight.

  22. Hi Susan
    Seasons greetings to you and Mr Mickey.
    Your blog is amazing and much appreciated. I suspect you have been doing a stocktake at your jewellery supplies business which would surely cause a headache.
    Best wishes for 2019.
    Regards, Helen

  23. Susan, Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights, when I was looking for guidance about wardrobe tips after turning 60, I found you and have been blessed by the information and experiences you have shared. Truly, thank you. I hope this will be a year filled with joy for you! Happy new year!

  24. Thank you for sharing, Susan! You are an inspiration to me, I love your passion to simplify and prioritize what is best for us as individuals. I have been reading your blog for only a couple of months but I look forward to having you in my life in 2019. I hope that you are feeling much better. You will be in my prayers.
    Warm regards,
    Dana Marino

  25. Susan, so sorry you were feeling “poorly”…as you well know life can overtake us before we know it!! The good thing is, we can pick up from where we fell off and get right back on track. You have probably already done it, as I write this.
    Thank you for all your great posts…always truly enjoy them. Look forward to your reveal on Wednesday. Hope it is good news for all!!
    Happy New Year, to you and Mr. Mickey!! (PS: during your days at Rice’s Nachmans, did you ever cross paths with a Pearl Smith??)…

  26. So true…. I react to too much salt from dining out and sooo regret it later. New year’s resolution includes more thought to eating out with conscious engagement regarding choice. Feel better, Susan, and have a terrific 2019.

  27. I appreciate your blog so much and also follow “Une Femme d’un certain age” where I was just introduced to a fabulous blog about nutrition, particularly prediabetes and diabetes: Here it is:

    I recommend watching the doctor’s TED talk for an overview of her recommendations which seem very much in line with yours.

    Happiness and good health in the New Year!

  28. So sorry you had a migraine. I to suffer from these (along with occasional vertigo) so I understand. You look gorgeous…love the color combination and I love light colors (I lived in FL for 16 years so is it any wonder?). Wishing you the very best 2019 and healing prayers coming your way. I really enjoy your blogs and have learned so much. Women are known for not slowing down and doing too much….take care of you first!

  29. Thank you for an insightful blog! I always appreciate your transparency in living your best life. Look forward to hearing what you’ve been up to!

  30. Thank you so much Susan for a wonderful year with you! Your story resonates with me and probably millions of other people. I am so ready to start afresh only this year I’m not going to chastise myself when I get it wrong, I will pick up and move in the right direction again and be so thankful for my wonderful family & friends and that God has my back!
    Have a wonderful healthy & happy new year which I look forward to sharing with you!!!

  31. Thanks for an enlightening message Susan. Your life experiences and advice are always welcome. I especially loved your comment that said “eat what is best for your unique body in small quantities, drink lots of water, and incorporate as much movement as you can into each day” – you put it simply…..have an epic year Susan!

  32. Hope you are feeling better and thank you for inspiring us to take stock of our routines and habits at the start of a new year. I took to heart your tip of not saving trips around the house and incorporate as much movement as possible. But I need to get back on a walking campaign for cardio unposed. Are you still walking in the mornings? I put it off and the day goes by and I don’t get it done!

    1. I love to go for a long walk as the sun is coming up, however, not when it is winter. I wait until the warmest part of the day to go for a walk when the weather is too cold, or I go to the mall and walk for an hour.

  33. I am so glad you mentioned that eating the wrong foods causes inflammation, swollen legs, headaches, skin rashes, , skin breakouts.
    So many people are not aware of the Benefits of a plant based diet.
    You are a positive example of the benefits of following that way of eating.
    Thank you for mentioning it in your blog.

  34. Thank for the reminder about eating less processed foods, wine & cheese. I am glad you are feeling better. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  35. Susan: I highly recommend the Purium cleanse to detox your body after the holidays. I have done the cleanse twice inthe past and I will do it again when I return from an extended vacation in Spain. Check it out. I don’t sell the product, I’m just recommending it as a successful way to detox.

  36. You couldn’t be more right about the power of diet! These days I always travel with a vegetable/fruit snack pack in my car and when faced with junk-y offerings, just smile and say I’m not hungry.

  37. Hi Susan, I too have had sensitivities to processed foods, and my body does not fare well with the standard American diet. I’m in my early 60s. A little over two years ago, I was 15 pounds heavier and my cholesterol was over 300. But the worst part was that I had suffered from unexplained chronic fatigue for at least 15 years. Finding the right diet and lifestyle for your particular body can make such a difference!
    I’ve always been a healthy and conscientious eater by most standards, and I lead a pretty active life. However, my cholesterol was getting higher every year. My 4 younger siblings also have high cholesterol (none of them are overweight), so everyone, including my doctor, says our high cholesterol is “just hereditary”.
    At any rate, my doctor had been after me to get on statins for about 5 years and it was time to get serious. I had read somewhere that cholesterol is the body’s natural response to inflammation. It occurred to me that if that is indeed true, it might be beneficial (for me) to figure out what was causing the inflammation in my body, IF possible, and to try to make some changes in my diet.
    I decided to try a vegan diet for 6 months (with my doctor’s knowledge). I already was eating lots of fruits and veggies, but I decided to completely cut out meat and dairy for 6 months and then get a physical and see if it made a difference. From August 2016 to January 2017, my cholesterol went from 305 to 135 and I dropped 10 pounds (and the rest of my labs were excellent). I have since begun eating dairy about once a week and only occasionally eating meat. When I had my cholesterol checked in January 2018, it was 157 and I had dropped another 2 pounds. Since then I have dropped another 3 pounds. One of the greatest things from all of this is I’m not exhausted anymore! I don’t require as much sleep and I rarely feel lethargic. My doctor says “whatever you’re doing, keep it up!”
    I do the best I can to plan my diet when travelling and I pay for it energetically and by feeling UNWELL when I push my body too far with junk food. I’ve learned that I’m someone who requires a solid sleep schedule. I can’t be healthy if I’m not “early to bed and early to rise”. I can vary from this a little, but I’ve learned the hard way that irregular sleep (for ME) is not worth the price tag.

  38. Your post came in at a great time. I was wondering why I was feeling so out of it. Well, as you say here with all the parties and work obligations I did not eat my usual which resulted in bloating, inflammation and neck and head aches. I started drinking 80 oz of water and cut my food to veggies and chicken breast. I feel 90% better. Mindful eating and taking things a little slower will help this old gal out. Thanks for this post. Happy New Year wishing you and Mr. Mickey an abundance of health, wealth and happiness!

  39. Thank you, Susan for the wealth of valuable information that you share. You are a real inspiration.

    I found your blog at a transitional point, recovering from Stage Three cancer. Thanks to your recommendation I have purchased the book, Eat to Live, and am now embarking on the journey to eating a nutrient dense plant based diet.
    You have opened the door, and I am enthusiastically stepping through it to complete rejuvenation and new possibilities.
    In June of 2019 I will be seventy and hope to celebrate that milestone birthday in Italy and Spain.

    My warmest thanks for all you do.
    Wishing you and Mr. Mickey a healthy and happy new year.

    Honey Bee

  40. You look great, as always.
    I’m sorry to hear about your awful headaches. I was in France and the gentleman I stayed with always carries a canister of helium in his car for migraine headaches. I’m not a believer in weird things, but I looked this up and it has merit.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2019!

  41. Susan! You were there at the same time I was! I so wish we had run into one another so that I could have met you and told you what an amazing woman you are! Hope your headache didn’t ruin the entire stay for you!

  42. Susan, thank you for sharing your wardrobe ideas. I try to incorporate as many of them as I can. The jacket you have on, is it a regular or petite?

    Thank you — Marcy

  43. Susan, your comments resonated with me as far as holidays, diet and health. I do not have migraines but right at New Years I suddenly developed very painful neck,shoulder and arm pain. I am anticipating my first appointment with a chiropractor next week. My holidays were extremely over-busy and stressful. I’m not sure what my diet may have had to do with it as I am careful about it like you are but I too indulge at times ( especially cheese!). Thank you for being so open and honest. It helps more than you know. Kathy

  44. Hi Susan! I took serious control of my health in 2017 after I relocated to another state for an internship (I finished my Master degree last year at age 65). Working out with a personal trainer who also coached my eating, I lost 20+ pounds. I feel better AND I’m almost 3-sizes smaller! I donated all of my large and extra large clothing to a women’s charity and I’m rebuilding a less frumpy wardrobe. Thanks for your inspiration! I LOVE Chico’s fashions even more now!

  45. Susan. Thank you for sharing your journey today. Yes I have found in my later years how important it is to take care of “me”. A busy wife of 47yrs, mom, Nana of 6 grandchildren & 2 great-grands. I’m working now in 2022 to loose those Covid-19 pounds that found me. I’m so inspired by your basic style and approach to life and wellness. Even on the remote Montana prairie we women still need style

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.