Metropolis: Love to hate it

For the record: I’m a city child, born and raised in a genuine concrete jungle (except for the summer months, naturellement).

I need the urban setting because it’s where I can read the signs. I can move through the crowd, and I’m shopping-survival-savvy. I know where to find a parking spot and am drilled to effortlessly stare into the air when at public transport. I need the architectural landscape of old, new, shiny and abandoned buildings, here and there a statue, here and there a park, here and there a graffito. I can’t live – … sake! – I can’t survive in a small town or in a village.

In the same time I hate living in a big city. Life here is unhealthy, loud, stressful… and it’s always artificial: we move – but only in the yoga class! We eat organically produced food – but we breathe fumes and smoke! We enjoy nature’s sounds – but they’re from a CD in our fave day spa. And we meet people – but we always rush, and while we’re always too late we are sitting most of the time. Only the cultural, intellectual life’s authentic in a metropolis (we generously omit Leo Tolstoy here; the good ol’ count was rather eccentric anyway). Museums, theatres, drama studios, art galleries, book shops – they’re all here. Galore.

But the city life drains you: whether it’s party nights or nasty, construction noise induced insomnia, whether it’s too much alcohol or cigarettes, the fun comes at a cost.



So yes, of course, smart urbanistas got their beauty secrets that enable them to LOVE TO HATE the city life; just like we learn how to handle a gorgeous lover who otherwise will leave us wasted. 

And these are my BEAUTYCALYPTICALLY Easy Top 5 for a somewhat healthier urban lifestyle (and a prettier face altogether):

1. Sleep routine. Holly Golightly wasn’t that wrong after all. I say: Treat your body right and it will give back.

US-scientists have proven that too little sleep (under 6 hours per night, seven nights in a row, as stated in an issue of “Proceedings”) activates the “bad” genes, those to make us seriously sick, sad, and old. Nah. Don’t like. So what can you do? Science says: ditch that “yet another great event that everybody will forget tomorrow anyway” and go to sleep before 23:00.

And now it’s time for some crazy Eastern stuff! Ready?

My TCM-practitioner (find one in a village, ehehehe), who at 40 looks like maybe 20, advises to go to sleep even earlier, at 21:00, and to adjust the amount of sleep to the amount of effort during the day. Busy day = lot of sleep. Easy day = easy on the sleeping hours. She says it’s important to go to bed at the same time every day – apparently, and many scientists prove this theory, our body needs some routine. A TCM-obsessed friend told me of a Chinese friend of hers who goes to sleep at 9pm and sleeps as long as he wants, which also means getting up very early in the morning (around 3am!) if he has a lot do to. And apparently this guy looks like 15 while he’s 40. She quotes him as saying that 3 to 7am were the most productive hours. Go figure: who can procrastinate at 3am? There are no calls, no texts; Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook sleep… This Chinese sleep routine is so crazy, I might even try it! (UPD September 2013: I did!)

2. A good doc in your address book. Granted, the big city anonymity is a feature we adore. It stops at all things medical in my opinion.

Really, it can be a matter of survival – a doctor who is attentive and good, and loves his/her job, and knows you, not just your medical record. I’ve got three docs I can run to if things go wrong, and always get good advice on everything from scientific news (they know I’m a sucker for that) to nutrition tips and tricks etc. It’s been one helluva ride through doctors’ offices of horror to find those gems, though. <- This is NOT a germ pun! 😀

3. Move more, sitting kills. We all should’ve heard by now that research (and we’ve all seen this chart, put together by shows that it’s sitting about nine hours a day that gives us obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer. 

How to avoid this? Walk more. We all know what they say: it’s stairs rather than lift, it’s get off one station earlier when taking the bus/metro, etc. etc. etc. Research also shows that our brains need our body moving, else they (brains) can’t work properly.

Oh, and a bonus tip #3a: ditch the high heels. I did. And: Yes. Yes. I know. I knoo0O0oow! You walk differently on heels. We will talk about heels and posture on another occasion, I promise – UPD: and here it is. Ballerina’s honor!

4. Eat/drink stuff that’s good for you. I’m not talking “soul food”! I’m talking: scientifically proven good for you.

Don’t eat trash. (Duh.) Because it’s exactly what convenience food is: garbage made feed – fillers, stabilisers, colourings… you name it. It has nothing to do with enjoying the taste of food. So the trick’s to find what works for you and to stick with it. For some people, working with a good nutritionist helps. 

I’d love to add here my reviews of some fantastic, almost life-changing books about food, health and scientific research. I will provide the reviews and a link to them later, but for today, let me simply state this: Food is a deeply important AND delicate matter. To paraphrase Wallis Simpson: You can never know too much about food.

5. Drink enough water. Waaaaaait, what is enough and does it need to be water?

While them ladies and gents in lab coats argue about whether 1 or 2 or 3 litres of water per day is good, whether it should be plain water or can include juice, coffee and tea – or maybe even soup and other food containing water… we are left wary of discussions and still guessing! Fact is: the human body needs water to naturally “detox” and to, well, function. Period. So – a wild guess on my part – probably three cups of coffee and an after-work beer a day aren’t cutting it.

I’m not a doctor, but after five doctors gave me seven answers… I said “Dammit!” and simply tested what my feel-good-numbers for water were.



Hey, fellow Adventurers! I know I promised you a rant. The truth is, my ranting always leads to some problem solving (and sometimes to more rants).

Maybe I can force myself to rant properly next time? Because as I wrote this, it occurred to me that there are so many things I love to hate that call for healthy sidequests. To name a few: jet-laggy business trips, summer holiday stress, living out of your suitcase, flat shoes… 🙂


And now do tell, do you love to hate big cities? What are your best health practices?



Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

32 Responses

  1. […] At least I believe that’s what she said. She’s sweet and lovely but she’s really got that distinct way of mis-pronouncing things that drives you insane. (Oh, and I’ve told the whole story on how to survive in a metropolis here.) […]

  2. julia

    lovely post, thank you for that!!
    and that brings me to the question: can you recommend a good doctor in berlin? a general practicioner? i think, it is really hard to find one. i have the best dentist, awesome gynecologist (wow, sounds kind of weird to call her awesome…), but it took me years to find them. there’s so many crap doctors around.

    i love the city too. i am originally from the countryside, i mean that kind of countryside where you open the window in the morning and you smell cow shit (haha!), no no, i didn’t grow up on a farm but where i come from, cows are everywhere. i even woke up once in the middle of the night (it was summertime and really hot) and i had a giant (no, i am not exaggerating) spider sitting on my cleavage.
    things like that hardly ever happen here in the big city.
    but that’s not the only thing i love about berlin/london/paris/nyc… it’s the little things that you can discover in huge melting pots, little moments with strangers, observations, the discovery of quiet places in the middle of hectic and stress, the magic of encounters with people you’ve never met before (similar to what’s happening here on the internet just now 😉 ). yes, i am a city girl (who likes to escape every once in a while).
    my health practices:
    – good thoughts and consciously letting go of all the ugly stuff you have to deal with.
    – juicefasting!!!! i can only recommend it to everybody. doing it for three weeks now and it feels too gooood!
    – being happy.

    xxx j.

    1. notausgang

      I love your big city regimen. we’ll discuss GPs over a cup of coffee, that lalalalalalooooohohong overdue cuppa 🙂

      @ the cows: when we left moscow, we settled in a tiny village south of bonn. I drank milk from glasses emprinted with moronically happy jumping cows and I watched real cows crop. it was really, really crazy: yesterday huge concrete monster, next day genuine green hobbiton!

      1. julia

        hobbiton!! LOL. never heard of that term before. LOVE it*
        yes, discussion will be on next week. and this is a FACT! looking forward* how about monday???? i work till 3:45 and could be somewhere at 4:30 ;))))

        1. notausgang

          OMG it might actually work. I’ve an appointment at noon (Steglitz) and it might take a while! -> details via mail pls 🙂

          p.s. hobbiton is a village in the shire (I told you I was a Tolkien geek right? I read the trilogy first in the 90s and re-read it like dozens of time. it helped me through a very dark period)

          1. julia

            aaahhhh!!! i work in steglitz tooooo!!!! maybe we can meet there. some café? i will write you an email. so exciting!!!!

            i read the trilogy too (the green one from the seventies, got it from my mum. it was her’s before). i was 12. and for some reason i don’t recall hobbiton. is this the village where frodo lives? might have to read it again 😀

            1. notausgang

              the neon green? I got mine like 1991 or so. dad was trying to motivate me to learn deutsch 🙂 (hint: he succeeded. he. hehe)

              hobbiton – exactly. in some translations it’s given an other name – like some say baggins, other beutlin… translation stuff.

              bouncy to read your email! x

  3. Where have you been? Why haven’t we met? Oh,#heapsofPraise for the glorious tg who makes such introductions possible… Thank the gods of all city jungles for the urbanistas… stad muis as I was once lovingly called…

    I find the country beautiful, but am utterly panicked if left far from a city. Drop me in a city of many millions – truly IN the city, I am à l’aise, especially if it’s Paris; otherwise, NY.

    I suspect I shall have to come back here in the wee hours and play, dammit. I sleep so little as it is…

    1. notausgang

      I hear you… *ogles watch*watch says 00:00*ogles cuppa*cuppa contains due espressi*

      I realise TG will receive many a heap of praise recently. Isn’t it a lovely place here? welcome to the beautycalypse, we’re also a bit crazy here 🙂

  4. gosh.

    the pictures of after-the-party in Vienna by candlelight and the breathtaking glimpse into deserted yet regal Moscow……..*swoon*

    this is why we live in Los Angeles- it’s a big city but there’s an ocean and glorious mountain ranges – so much is outdoors (yes, yes, the irony of driving there is not lost on us) and yet there’s still Many (many, many) TCM people here.


    real food.

    and the odd party in Vienna at 3AM for the memories.

    secrets of #laviecashmere

    1. notausgang

      Ocean and mountains – hmmm. So you probably prefer LA to NY?
      Friends are discussing moving from Chicago to Miami. They love Chicago 9 months a year but apparently they loathe the cold winters. I’m deciding where to go next as well; it must be a good place to ride my little Harley but not too hot and also suitable for my writing -uhm- ambitions. My #1 wish is London (#2 any bigger city in Canada), but my S.O.’s job might more likely take us to the US. Also not too shabby 🙂

      Sleep and real food and luxury memories sound like a good regimen to me! Dr Beautycalypse prescribes to keep it up.

      1. ah yes, london is magical. lived there for 12 years.

        but wherever you and your beloved both roam will be glorious and you will both be glorious additions to the Locale!

        1. notausgang

          12 years london. you are breaking my heart right now, look, like this: </3

          I think I'll try to get a london-based literary agent when time has come. this will make a fabulous exuse 🙂

  5. Hmmm, I know that you love Arles but I do believe you would go out of your mind living here, for it is indeed a very small town (albeit one with a healthy dose of culture). It was quite a shift to come here from Paris and Paris from NYC where I lived for 14 years. Yes I loved it, until the end when the hate molecules started creeping in…

    While I am not the healthiest person on the planet, I do love my yoga, that I do at home, for me, about five days a week, even if it is a quick practice. Living in Provence means access to cheap veggies and fruits–I cook every day and pretty healthily. No beef and other meats are only from good sources. The cream of Paris has been replaced with olive oil. And I start each day with drinking 2-3 glasses of H2O. Voila!

    I loved all of your positive non-rants–merci!

    1. sorry to suddenly cross-talk over here – but Heather – we just remembered we walked your dogs in our dream last night……! such a curious moment. a very Bruce Weber reverie: probably the key to great health, dear beautycalypse – walking the dogs – but only if they choose to live with one –

      1. And these boys certainly chose us. Both as clear as day.

        But how I would love to gather us all together for a long walk in Provence, wouldn’t that be lovely?

      2. notausgang

        walking the dogs is amazing! their joy is contagious, and watching them enjoy themselves opens your heart. also: ben and kipling are two very good looking gentlemen! 🙂

        it’s just… when some people here in berlin consider “sitting on a bench in a park tweeting (dog roaming around looking bored)” = “walking the dog”.

    2. notausgang

      A little Durrell spoiler: apparently he loved France where cream stopped and olive oil began 🙂

      I love your healthy lifestyle. This is the reason why I love Southern France; the down-to-earth attitude, the good food, very cyclic approach to all things. Historic hertage is an amazing bonus 🙂

      I think I could spend many weeks a year in Arles, but you’re right, probably not 52. Arles has this amazing Light. Maybe my need for a big city lies in the fact that I’m a bit disrooted. Yes, I’d love to put my finger on the world map and say: that’s my home; but I can’t. Maybe one day. No place ever felt like home; neither did returning to the place I was born. Again, no tragedy in that! Just a matter of fact.

      1. Oh, I agree with you entirely. We are nomads, both, then. And the irony is that when we moved to Arles in 2005, we were travelling so much for our work in the press that it was more of a charming “home base”–it had high speed internet, an international airport close by and the quality of life was off the charts compared to what we had in Paris (in Paris we had a 55 m2 duplex and when we moved to Arles we rented a 200m2 house with a terrace overlooking the Rhone for less money!).
        Alas, the press completely tanked on us and we lost our most important client. And so now I am here full time. I miss travelling terribly. But I try to find as much good as I can in the situation…I would love a move back to the US at some point but I don’t know the hows of that…I think that you would be able to do some seriously positive damage there and will follow along wherever you roam.

        1. notausgang

          A heartfelt THANK YOU for that!!!

          And I agree on the home base thought – Arles makes a really great one.
          Are you both travel writers? And have you thought of going to yet another country together rather than returning?

          1. Remi is a French photographer. May I brag a bit?
            He is my photography instructor. 🙂
            And we definitely have thought about living in Canada (Vancouver, tres cosmopolite) or part time in Bali (have you been?). But for now, we are still struggling so much financially (did I mention that the French press tanked?!?) that anything remains a distant dream for the moment. But I know that both of us would be up for a new adventure in a heartbeat if we had more security and a solid reason to go! I have a feeling it is the same for you and your companion too, non?

            1. notausgang

              Amazing body of work. I have saved his website in my favourites; you never know! 🙂

              I hear you. Press tanked pretty much everywhere, and Germans try to turn back time by regulating, it’s even more atrocious and definitely NOT helping.
              This is the time of taking matters into your hands, I believe, being creative not only with words, but also with “business” or the approach to the same. It’s also a time of paradigms changing. My bf and I we are both from a techie background, so we’re even a bit closer to the technical change; to where it’s happening.

          2. Which is a mega blessing.

            Remi and I are both mega old-schooley stylees, which means, we’ve been screwed. We specialized in tribes, traditions and World Heritage Sites together–things which folks have zero interest in these days and there are so few “scoops” anymore. I give Remi a lot of credit in his being able to steer his link to “patrimoine” more in a direction of archeology–something technically challenging, there is still money in it and happily, he enjoys it. Here is his website for that: (and I promise no more!! 😉

            I am still struggling finding the next step (which surprises me as I have always been a hard worker) but at least have become (I believe, I hope) a better writer than I used to be. We’ll figure it out. We have to…! I don’t want to sound like we think of ourselves as victims, not at all. And we have been well aware of the shifting paradigms for years now but find ourselves still juggling plates in the air.

            I could be wrong but it seems that you and your bf will never lack in work…?

            1. notausgang

              His work is actually pretty bloody amazing.
              And no, abolutely no problem in sharing 🙂

              I’ve asked that before, but how comes you quit acting?

              And would then presenting (which combines writing + acting skills) make sense and be something you wanted to try?
              Maybe you can make World Heritage something cool enough for kids on YouTube? Explaining stuff in a cool way? There is this new, well – kind of new, trend of distance education/ eLearning through the means of web 2.o – maybe you could work for universities? Sorry for this unsolicited brainstorm 😉

              1. I no longer have the looks to present but it is an excellent idea. Maybe Remi does? Seriously, will mull the educational aspect, of which, of course, wee were entirely unaware. So merci et bonne nuit…

                1. Very kind but it is true. It was an issue even when I was 30 and a skinny bean and now I am 43 and a cheese eater! But thank you…Actually, that could be a good subject for you here to handle in YOUR way. Because as you well know, it isn’t just about doing your best to age well physically but accepting in your heart in a really clear way to know where you are and where you are going. At least, I would love to know what you think about how to be “bien dans sa peau”.

            2. notausgang

              UPD: totally hear you with exhausted at work and solitude and then BAM! love comes round the corner. Brave you!!! ❤

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