Tag Archives: Health

Why I’m not running GEAR 10K this weekend

bespakAnyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I am a bit of a health and fitness freak. I’ll never been that girl who denies herself a treat or refuses to go out for dinner, or checks the calorie content in everything she eats, but I love to keep fit and eat well. I am that girl who loves her vegetables, prefers to drink water instead of tea or coffee and who feels rubbish if she hasn’t been for a good workout. But at the same time, I love a cheeky Nandos, I love cocktails and I can’t live without cheese. So it all balances itself out.

Two years ago, I was probably the fittest I have ever been in my life, when my personal trainer friend took me under his wing and decided to turn me into an athlete. I trained every other day with running, swimming, weights and loads of cardiovascular exercises to push my body to the limit. I taught myself breathing techniques, regularly did pilates classes and worked on my flexibility. All this training had me at the peak of fitness and I felt amazing, I had given up drinking for a while and was feeling good and looking good. As a target, I signed up for the 10K run in my home town – GEAR – and began extending the distances I was covering. Finally, after months of training, the day arrived and I was ready after an energy-filled breakfast for action.

I was running on behalf of the newspaper I work for as part of a story I was writing, but was also raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust after my boyfriend’s cousin was diagnosed with the condition. I managed to raise just under £300 which I was quite proud of, and it gave me the motivation needed to complete the run. That doesn’t mean it was easy at all though – it hurt and at several points I didn’t think I would make it round, but I did in 63 minutes which was far better than my time in training so I was very happy. My boyfriend also ran and made it in a great time – so we kicked off the celebrations at a birthday party before heading to the pub and out on the town. Sitting around and then dancing all night was not the best combination and I could already feel my limbs seizing up.

The next day was agony, trying to get up and down three flights of stairs each time I needed the loo or a drink was awful and my body has never hurt so much all over. But it was worth it, I was so proud that I had done it. Last year, unfortunately we were away on the day of the run so we couldn’t take part, because I would have liked to have tried to beat my time. Sadly, now it has been two years and I just can’t seem to get motivated enough to run competitively again. I seem to remember the pain of the next day all too well! I am still keeping up my health and fitness, eating well and going to the gym three times a week, drinking plenty of water. I also run often at the gym, but I just can’t seem to tie myself down to a goal of completing an official run, perhaps because I have completed this one the once, now I need a different route. I’m not really sure why, I just know that I won’t be running the GEAR this weekend, and definitely won’t have the chance next year as I will be on my travels. Maybe I just don’t have that competitive edge, but boyfriend certainly does and is running this weekend so I will be going along to cheer him on and it helps me kill two birds with one stone if I work while I am there and interview people for Tuesday’s paper!

How competitive are you when it comes to running? Do you have any targets coming up?

A beauty of a post – My favourite natural remedies

Ben Sutherland

Ben Sutherland

As someone who has suffered from eczema, bizarre allergic reactions and dry patches on my skin all my life, I thought it was about time that I shared the fantastic remedies I have come across over the years that not only have saved me hundreds of pounds but have actually healed these problems far quicker than prescribed treatments. My mum and I have made a bit of a mission out of finding natural alternatives that will help to solve such problems in a way that won’t upset the natural balance of my body and that won’t cause further problems as a result of the harshness of the treatment.

I have never been one of these girls to spend a fortune on a product unless I know that it will work or it is something I really want to try as a treat – often I will turn to my own kitchen cupboards to find unprocessed products that are less likely to irritate the skin in turn. I particularly enjoy simple products and treatments because it can become complicated to work out which ingredient you are allergic to or simply does not agree with your skin type.

Now, these are a mixture of health-related remedies and beauty remedies that will hopefully help to boost your skin and give you the confidence boost you need, because we all know how devastating it can be to get a spot or a red patch on your face before a big night out!

  1. Olive Oil is my top recommendation for anyone who suffers from dry skin – people always look at me like I’m mad over this one but it is really good for your skin, fairly cheap and accessible and pure – which is the most important thing! I always put it on dry patches before bed (although avoid any oily patches because this may block pores causing spots) and after a few days of doing this there is a huge improvement. It is also great for encouraging growth of eyelashes and eyebrows and for strengthening nails – rub into them before bed and you’ll notice the difference even overnight.
  2. Coconut Oil is another great one but this time for any part of the body. It’s something that is used liberally in Mauritius (where my father is from) and it smells amazing. Great for giving your skin a healthy glow and a great shine for hair but countless other uses.
  3. Tea Tree Oil is fantastic for clearing up spots by drying them out, be wary if you have dry skin because this will dry it out further, but works quicker than any spot treatment I’ve ever used. Also good for fungal toenails (more common than you think!).
  4. Water is no secret to us all, our bodies are mostly made up of water and dry out easily so drinking plenty will help to rehydrate your skin and get rid of those dry patches – alcohol and coffee (and fizzy drinks) all dehydrate your skin. Also, sleep is equally vital – the less sleep you get, the worse your skin looks – Fact.
  5. Red peppers and tomatoes – it took me years to finally realise it, despite saying plenty of times to my mum as a child that “momoes make me itch”, but these are nightshade plants which irritate the skin and many people are actually allergic to them. If you keep getting red patches and eczema flaring up – especially if it is sore, inflamed and red, try cutting these out and see the difference over a few weeks.
  6. Dairy products – excessive amounts of dairy, particularly if you are a big milk drinker, can cause your skin to become unhealthy, looking pale and oily. These changes can cause you to develop more spots. I personally am not big on milk, I even use water in my porridge and don’t drink tea of coffee, but I do love cheese. So I find it easy to cut these out – but if you are suffering from bad breakouts and have a dairy-heavy diet, try cutting back and see if it helps.
  7. Bio-Oil, or Vitamin E Oil is amazing, as many of us already know, for evening skin tone and reducing the appearance of acne scars, stretchmarks or anything at all. Plus it smells amazing and hydrates your skin really well. Freshly squeezed lemon juice or boiled tea bags can also help to lighten marks and scars, or even under eye bags, according to a friend of mine.
  8. Sugar, honey and oats, plus fruit – sounds delicious right? Forget eating it, put it on your face and use as a scrub/face mask – it’s great for freshening up your skin, revitalising it and getting rid of dead skin cells. There are countless combinations of these ingredients but all work well – just use whatever you have in the cupboard!
  9. Aloe Vera (there is a gel available from Holland and Barrett) is great for soothing red or inflamed skin, particularly with eczema when you are afraid to use other products which might make it worse. It is soothing and cooling at the same time.
  10. Nuts such as almonds and egg are both great for glowing skin, I’ve never used egg because it grosses me out but I’m happy to eat both of these! Almonds and almond oil are great for the skin whether you eat them or spread them on your skin. Eggs can be used in a face pack and apparently are great for wrinkles.
  11. Exercise – if you really want glowing skin, work up a sweat and get that healthy, rosy glow from running around outside, fresh air and hard work will do wonders for your complexion.
Chandrika Nair

Chandrika Nair

So there you are, just some of the great natural remedies for dealing with acne, eczema, dry patches, red patches and anything else along the way in your quest for glowing skin. It’s important to remember that everything you put in your body you wear on your skin so if you live on a diet of shit, you’re going to look like shit! Main advice is eat healthy, exercise and be happy – if you feel rubbish then often it shows on your face and affects both your skin and hair. If you are run-down, no amount of make-up can hide that, so why not start from the basics and eat more fruit and veg, drink more water and move more? You’ll be amazed at the results.

Have you got any home remedies that you use to keep looking healthy and glowing? Any that have been passed down through the family?

Looking forward to getting back on Boxercise again tonight!

I’ve never been able to stand girls who just want to be skinny, I’m all about the toned look and strength building. My proudest moment in my gym was being the first female to stack the leg press and although others can just barely do it now, I have status at the gym because I am known for this. I am that girl that the blokes refer to as a ‘chick with a dick’ because they are jealous that they can’t keep up. I storm every bloke in the gym when it comes to ab work and I love every second.

Workouts are a huge part of my life and I’m always looking for new inspiration and new exercises to try. Unfortunately, I am always struggling to find someone who will go to classes with me! I work out at my gym at least three times a week, a mixture of cardio, swimming and weights with plenty of ab work. I have previously joined pilates, bokwa, powerhooping and pole dancing classes – all of which I enjoyed but had to leave for various reasons, the main ones being the classes became too easy and I didn’t feel like I was getting the workout I needed, and my friends just didn’t want to continue.

I dragged two friends along to boxercise with me once before but the combination of a creepy male tutor and high level of activity put them both off, even though it was the best full body workout I had taken part in for a while. I really enjoyed it and my whole body was in agony the next day. I really wanted to go back, but part of my love of exercise classes is the social side which lacks slightly if my mates don’t want to come along.

But I’ve given up waiting around for people to commit to classes, I just want to try something new, so I’m going along to test out a new ladies boxercise class tonight to see if I want to join the next round of classes in the new year. I’m really excited and can’t wait to really push myself. I’m just hoping that it does what I’m hoping and that I like the class so I can continue next year and do something all by myself. I’m planning on hitting the cheese boards and Christmas cake hard this festive period so it will be good to hit it hard in the new year, shed the excess pounds and build up some muscle ready for another summer on the beach!

What other exercise classes would people recommend? I would love to try some crazy ones such as the bikram yoga and others that are offered in the cities but unfortunately don’t make it to my small town..

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Why I’ve forgone the chop for long locks

I’m Lucy Ruthnum, and it’s been 11 months since my last haircut. (Now this is the bit where you are all supposed to chime in and tell me I don’t look like a homeless person.)

I’ve always loved the experience of having my hair cut, of going to the salon and having your hair washed and treated with lovely products before being combed out by the hairdresser and cut to the style you love, but with the expertise of the stylist who knows how to make the style suit your face. I love the conversation that comes with it, catching up with the hairdresser on all the gossip, what they have been up to and what has been happening in your life.

It is so relaxing and I always feel a million dollars when I walk out, until a great gust of wind undoes all her hard work! But this time last year, with a freshly cut bob bouncing around my jawline (as others described it, reminiscent of Jessica from Mistresses), I clocked that I only had a matter of eight months until my best friend’s wedding. That sent alarm bells ringing in my mind – because what comes with bridesmaid duties? The up-do, tightly pinned, ringlet curls and the rest. Not really suited to short hair, the style suits those with flowing locks but from my experience not those of us with shorter crops.

I remember being called on last minute to be maid of honour at another girl’s wedding, not really one of my close friends, and being forced into a horrible up-do that made my face look like a moon and stupid ringlets that looked ridiculous. I looked like Miss Piggy. And I was not happy. I didn’t complain once, but I’ll be damned if I was going to let that happen again.

Plus, with all my big plans for a summer of festivals, I knew my unruly short curls would not be very helpful at a festival, getting greasy quickly and with no way or tying my locks back I was in for a lot of hassle! I decided to grow it out from that point on. I was terribly impatient to start with and couldn’t believe how long it seemed to take to grow, I was massaging my scalp every day to provoke growth and was using all kinds of products to encourage my hair to grow, eating and drinking all the right things. But you know how it is, as soon as you want your hair or nails to grow it just doesn’t seem to budge! Finally I started to notice some real growth, my fringe grew out and the layers started to move, but it took ages until I could get it up in a ponytail once again.

The problem is that I really love my short hair, but it is just such high maintenance, it is not the sort of style that you can just leave. Even with my tousled look, I have to style it and sort out the fringe so it looks tidy at least which is more than you want to be doing at a festival. However, long hair can get a bit annoying because it takes so much longer to wash and it doesn’t frame your face as nicely, plus it doesn’t look as edgy. You can’t win, all I know is  that usually when I have one, I am craving the other.

My hair grew to the perfect length by the wedding, but it was okay in the end, my friend decided she wanted us with natural hair and make up so I just curled it a bit. You can’t really see here how long it was at this point but it was just about shoulder-length when dead straight, possibly slightly longer. It was great for my summer of festivals because I could just tie it back which, considering the heat at each one, was great and left me free to not even think about greasy locks. Unfortunately all the pics I have of my hair seem to have curls rather than straight hair so you can’t really see how much it has grown, but I judge using the ponytail test. Whereas before I could not even tire up my hair, now I can tire all of it back, even my shortest layer which used to be my fringe. This is great and despite being very tempted to cut it short again, I think I like having longer hair at the moment. My plan is to keep growing it for another month or two, until after Christmas, and then perhaps I will return to the salon for a trim.

I do have to mention that in the time since my last chop, I have not actually felt that my hair needs a cut. It is healthy, glossy and full of life. I haven’t even used a hair mask for a long time, but I have no straggly ends or dry bits, and certainly no split ends, which I am pleased about. I think your hair, like any part of your body begins to look after itself if you leave it to nature. But, for the products I do use on my hair:

  • Brilliant Brunette’s by John Freida shampoo and conditioner (or the illuminating ones if I fancy a change)
  • Aussie 3-Minute Miracle for a hair treat
  • Mark Hill Beach Babe Salt Spray to bring out my curls
  • John Freida Luxurious Volume thickening blow dry lotion for when I want it straight with volume
  • And classic Silvikrin hair spray in firm hold

I haven’t had my hair straight for a few days so haven’t been able to take a picture to show you where we are at now but will try to do so soon. What about you – what’s your favourite hairstyle? Do you prefer long or short?

 

IVF – nature vs. science – what is the right answer?

We had a story in the newspaper today about IVF cycles and how our local hospital is cutting back on the number of cycles available to local couples from the suggested three to just two because of costs, but that women between 40 and 42 will also be given a try. The meeting reported on revealed that by reducing the number of cycles allowed generally, it will give the older women the opportunity to try for a baby. Alongside this story, we also had another about a woman who has been refused fertility treatment because her new husband already has two children from a previous marriage. As a result, she has become depressed, been forced to quit her job and feels the refusal has taken over her life. She believes the hospital doctors are “playing god with her life”.

An interesting topic and one that certainly got the other reporters talking, interestingly from very different perspectives. One of the team, who is not in relationship and doesn’t have children of her own, was very cynical towards the woman’s story and felt that she was being rather over dramatic about the situation, that she was letting her situation get out of control and was letting it take over her life. She felt that the woman should have accepted the situation and been content with her husband’s children that she was lucky enough to have, and instead should focus on the good things in her life such as her health and finding a career. Another member of the team, a mother and step-mother, felt that actually, as she had experienced for a short time before becoming pregnant, the feeling that you might be unable to have a child could be heartbreaking and could cause a woman to fall apart. She said, from her own recollections, that the possibility that she might not be able to have a child became all she could think about in those few months and that it had begun to send her emotions through the roof. Luckily, she was able to have a child, but she understands that if this weren’t the case that she would not be content with sharing her husband’s children and that this would not fulfil her own physical and biological need for a child.

All this discussion left my head spinning because, like many, such a huge issue left me feeling too uneducated, inexperienced and perhaps even immature to form an opinion. To be honest, years ago, after studying the issue as a concept to be dealt with by ethicists, I actually ended up feeling that IVF treatment is wrong and that we shouldn’t be messing around with nature. Essentially, I still do believe that if you are physically unable to have a child that there is a reason for this and that we should not try to change this – more to adapt around it through adopting, surrogacy or other means. However, I totally understand that if I were in the same situation that I would feel completely different. I think it is difficult to form an opinion when I know no-one who has been through IVF and I haven’t experienced it myself. But, I do feel that it must be devastating for a woman to find out she cannot have a child, particularly when we women are still raised in a society that enforces the patriarchal ideas of woman existing to run the home and look after the family. No matter how much we think we have evolved past this basic need, maternal instinct says volumes and if a woman has decided she wants a baby, it is something that must happen. If it fails to, for any reason, it can be devastating to people’s lives, can end relationships and bring on depression.

The problem is, where does the treatment stop? These women could demand endless cycles in their quest for a child, which places heavy costs on the NHS and may not even have great results overall. It sounds heartless, but I think I am still slightly more against IVF than I am for it – however, I am sure that when it works it does create huge happiness for the couple.

Such a difficult issue – what do you think? Is IVF right or wrong and why?

 

Harrowing Photos of the Mentally Ill in Sub-Saharan Africa

This was just such a powerful and heartbreaking piece that I felt it had to be shared with my readers. With two parents who have both worked as mental health nurses for much of their lives, I have been aware of this type of illness from an early age, and with a father who comes from Mauritius I have also witnessed for myself the poverty and the vulnerable in Africa. The combination of the two is beyond devastating and to think that the lack of education could be causing these individuals to be treated cruelly or misunderstood is awful.

 

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Workout: Stronger, harder, leaner

Just got home after another epic workout. Treating myself to new gym clothes has really been an amazing motivation and I am killing it again at the gym – I have totally revitalised my workout and am loving it again. My body feels amazing now that it is really being challenged again. I love how good a really powerful workout makes you feel. I’m totally hooked on endorphins and I’m not ashamed to say it – there’s nothing like the buzz you get post-workout.

None of my friends are gym bunnies like me and none of them really understand why I enjoy going to the gym so much (I don’t think three workouts a week is excessive!) because they have never given it a real shot, but if they prefer to feel tired rushing around at work and sad when their clothes don’t fit like they would like them then fair enough! Personally, I like my body to be soft and yet strong, I like being able to run and lift weights without a problem. I like that my clothes fit the way I like. And I LOVE that I can pretty much eat what I want because my metabolism is so high and I rarely put on weight now, even if the majority of the time I prefer to eat healthily.

 

Too many people think the key to losing weight or toning up is actually just eating less when in fact, I actually eat more now than ever and yet weigh less because I am eating less junk and because I am working out to burn it off. My body is lean and toned and yet I enjoyed a huge Italian feast of tagliatelle with a sauce made of double cream, brandy, prawns and vegetables with two different types of garlic bread, wine and cheesecake for afters last night. It’s all about moderation.

My current workout is cardio heavy with plenty of weights and a strong core section. I do either a 20 or 30 minute interval run (depending on how much time I have) and usually run for either three or four minutes followed by a minute of sprint walking. This interval running is great for boosting my cardiovascular fitness and building up stamina – plus its also the most effective for weight-loss. I then move on to 20 minutes of interval training on the cross trainer at a high resistance level before finishing with ten minutes of fast-paced cycling.

I then move on to weights working the inner and outer thighs to strengthen my muscles for running and to help stop my hips from clicking so much. Reps of 12 and I try to move up a weight every few weeks. This is followed by the leg press (which I can stack) and I do various exercises on there including one-legged, pyramids and general lifting to mix it up a little. Doing these weights have really helped strengthen my legs for running without building any excess muscle, my legs are slimmer than ever!

I then move on to arms and use all the weight machines working my biceps, triceps, shoulders and core as I try to build up my strength in my arms. I stick to lower weights because I tend to build muscle in my arms (especially biceps) quite easily and although I don’t mind this, it makes the sleeves of my cardigan a bit tight!

Finally, I finish with an intense ab workout. Starting on the ball, I will do 25 oblique crunches on each side followed by 20 long arm crunches with a 7kg weight, finishing with 40 Russian Twists with the same weight.

After these, I hit the floor where I start with another 20 long arm crunches with the weight, 20 basic crunches followed by 20 reaching to my knees and another 20 reaching through my legs. Then I do 40 oblique twists followed by 20 crunches where I fully extend my legs and arms. Finally I do 40 more Russian Twists on the floor and then sit on a weights bench to do 20 leg extension crunches.

After this I’m usually a jelly mess and have to head home for a snack, today’s was a bit of brown, seeded toast with peanut butter.

What’s your favourite workout? Any tips to further my workout?