The One-Week Retro Reboot

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in. As usual, as far as New Years goals go, I got overenthusiastic and tried to tackle all of them, only to get overwhelmed and bomb. I might have mentioned before, I’m used to this type of behavior (I’ve known myself for 36 years now) and it doesn’t bother me. I’ve had fun and I’ve kept up on a few of my vintage habits, as well as established new ones, like my transition to a mostly all vintage-inspired wardrobe.


Since slacking off on my blog posts and my missions, though, I miss the sensation of having a project and a direction. I love projects, and often lack direction. However, while procrastinating searching for direction today, I think I found a nice, doable project that might get me back on track.

Spartan Week.

Being from Michigan, the word “Spartan” instantly makes me think of Michigan State. This isn’t about football or basketball or local or ancient Greeks, though. Instead, the idea comes from a book called Why Men Like Us; Your Passport to Charm by Louise Paine Benjamin, written in 1937 and available to read online through the link above. (Warning: Please don’t read this book without a major dose of historical perspective. It’s got some pretty outdated notions that are chauvinistic and gender-biased, to say the least. That said, it’s a short, fun read, and I did enjoy it!)

Instead of reinventing the wheel and pretending this thing is my own idea, I’m going to share/summarize the chapter here so you can get the full picture and I can have a project blueprint to refer back to. Writes the author in the chapter “The Shape You’re In,”

You’d be surprised what a week of concentrated self-care will do… a week of extra attention to face and figure, of self-denial in the matter of menus, of mental refurbishing… with even a bit of toning up of the moral fibre thrown in for good measure. 

Pick a time when you are feeling stodgy, a trifle out of sorts mentally and physically, are bored by life’s daily grind, or are just plain soft from self-indulgence. If you have, by chance, gotten to the state where sad, sad waves of self-pity keep breaking over you in spite of your best efforts, it is a sure sign you are ready for a Spartan program. 

Hey, I am feeling rather stodgy and out of sorts, now that you mention it!

Related image

Sign me up, please.

From there, I’ll summarize by category–but I would recommend reading the whole chapter if you decide to do your own Spartan week.

Image result for vintage meal illustrationSimple food.
Non-creamy soups, fruits, simple salads, vegetables. No desserts except fruit, plain custards or gelatines without cream and sugar. Nothing between meals except unsweetened fruit juice, tea or milk. Typical day’s diet:

Breakfast: fruit, coffee, slice of lightly-buttered toast.
Mid-morning: fruit juice or skim milk.
Lunch: eggs or soup, and salad.
Midafternoon: tea or fruit juice.
Dinner: lean meat, vegetables, fruit or custard.

Early to bed.
Lights out at 10:00 PM or sooner.

At least a half-hour per day on face, hair or hands.
Ideas include face “masques,” 100-stroke hair brushing, scalp massage, manicures, hand cream, deep face cleansing, etc.

vintagegal:  Illustration by David Wright c. 1948:

Half-hour exercise daily.
Active housework, 15 minutes nights or morning exercises in the bedroom, trouble spot exercises, fresh air, bike riding, gardening, swimming, stomach weight lifting–that’s an interesting one. The author recommends lying on one’s back and placing a soft, 5-pound weight on the stomach, carefully lifting it in repetitions.

Keep good posture.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Practice standing correctly first, then walking correctly (the old book-on-the-head trick with a glass of water variation). Get on your hands and knees once in a while, so blood can flow back to your head (never heard this one before…). Wear proper footwear. Run, or if you can’t, take a brisk walk outside.

At the beginning of the chapter, the author suggests additional elements to include in the Cat Eyes vintage eyeglasses illustration: week, like doing a daily good deed, completing three projects that you’ve been putting off (writing a letter to someone, cleaning a closet, some sort of “dread” item–the author mentions cold showers and political editorials), and reading one or two popular books, fiction and  nonfiction if you can.

Sounds like I’m going to be busy.

Tomorrow’s grocery shopping day, so I’ll plan on picking up some healthy eats. I love putting a plan in action–and I love a good vintage project. Join me?


Bitsy Ann

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