Shallots Are The Work Of Satan: Top Tips For Surviving The Festive Season

Christmas: same time, same place, nothing new in it.  And yet, somehow, we never see it coming and get all het up, waking at 4am (oh, all right 9.30am), heart pounding and pulse racing, with all sorts of last-minute considerations such as: ‘Bread sauce. What’s that all about?’

But need it be this way? It need not.  Here are my stress-busting tips which, if you followed to the letter, should get you through the next few weeks with a Zenlike calm that will irritate the hell out of everyone around you. 

This, by the way, is my gift to you, all these wonderful tips, so please do not expect anything else. I have nothing left to give.  Here you are:

  • GET your story straight: ‘Mummy, why does Father Christmas always use the same wrapping paper as you?’ Because we have the same excellent taste, darling.’
  • IF A shop assistant in Toys R Us or similar tells you a toy is ‘easy to assemble’, that assistant is probably lying. 
  • AVOID gadgetry shops unless you want to get your head spliced with a remote control helicopter.  This year’s top-selling gadget gifts, by the way, are expected to be a USB carpet, night-vision socks, cheese-eating slippers, a hat that writes upside down and a toffee that’s waterproof to a depth of 100 fathoms.  I think that the waterproof toffee makes the best gift, as what’s the point of a toffee if you can’t take it down to the sea bed without it leaking.
  • WOMEN do not want any of the following gifts; an outboard engine; petrol for the car; a fitness DVD; an electric toothbrush; any book with a title such as 1,000 Recipes For The Freezer; Canesten; anything from the Pyrex range. Just saying.
  • KEEP working on your story. ‘Mummy, how come Father Christmas’s reindeer’s can fly?’ Because each morning he gives them a big cup of Father Christmas’s Most Excellent Flying Juice. It is especially for reindeer’s who need to fly.

  • GOATS, bees and donkeys are nice thoughts as gifts, but hell to wrap and to keep secret.  Hot-air balloons are also a problem.
  • PLAN a Christmas gift budget, then don’t look at what you have spent until April, or ever.  Eat your bank statements and teach the children that game called Quick, Quick, Lets Hide From The Bailiffs!
  • WHY not spare yourself the tiring agony of producing a traditional Christmas dinner and offer something different for a change, such as a salad?  This will make small children cry and frighten older people, but hey, you can’t even get through Christmas without upsetting someone anyway.  Order your salad from your greengrocer in plenty of time, if it won’t fit in your fridge come Christmas Eve, you can store it overnight in the garage.  Also, I should add, it’s worth paying more for a salad that’s had a happy life.
  • DO, AT some point, ask yourself this: Is there any point in putting marzipan on the cake when everyone picks it off?  If you answer ‘Yes’, please do not read on, as you do not deserve my help at this time.
  • INSTEAD of just watching TV, why not play a traditional family game.  The rules for Quick, Quick, Lets Hide From The Carol Singers! are as follows: turn off the lights; hide behind sofa; be very quite; pretend to be out.
  • SHALLOTS are the work of Satan.  It can take a whole morning to peel one.  They are not worth it. They are only tight, nasty little onions with mean and un-giving dispositions.
  • TRY not to get competitive about cards, eyeing up how many others have received.  Buts it’s sensible to send yourself a good number all the same. Plus you can send your self charity cards Christmas cards, thereby proving to yourself that you are a good person, which is nice to know.

  • BEFORE attacking the shops feverishly in search of the perfect office party dress, check that you work in an office and you’ve been invited to a party.  If you don’t work in an office and haven’t been invited to a party, you don’t have to attack the shops feverishly.
  • NEVER throw a party yourself.  No matter how many chairs you provide, someone will sit on the edge of a low (glass) table and tip it up.
  • GIVING your parents or any older relatives a £5 note and saying ‘buy yourself something nice’ can offend, so up the amount to £10 (or at least £7.50).
  • KEEP working on your story. ‘Mummy, is Father Christmas really Daddy?’  ‘Don’t be silly.  When has Daddy ever done anything useful round here?’
  • BREAD sauce was invented by the Lets Dream Up Things For Women To Do Society, founded in 1792 to dream up things for women to do. Bread sauce is, therefore, wholly unnecessary, as well as really quite horrible.

  • REQUEST the Christmas Day shift at work. If you are refused, beg. If you are refused again, turn up for work anyhow.  This will make you the Christmas martyr, and everyone knows martyrs don’t have to shop, cook or clean up.
  • JUST because you feel you ought to invite your mother-in-law, it doesn’t mean you have to let her in.
  • IF AN assistant in PC World or similar says: ‘Yes, it’s easy to set up; it’s just plug-in-and –play,’ they are probably lying. You may kick them.
  • GIFT TOKENS may seem like a cop-out, but after driving around the shopping mall for four days trying to park and six days trailing around the shops trying not to cry, you’ll be amazed at how sexy and on-trend they suddenly seem.

  • KEEP working on that story, even though your energy may be on the wane.  ‘Mummy, how does Father Christmas get into houses without chimneys?’  ‘Through the whole in my wallet where my money used to be, I expect.’
  • DON’T decide to write a list of tips for surviving Christmas; it is hard work and exhausting.  And hard, exhausting work is not what anyone needs right now.
  • IT IS perfectly acceptable to buy any old rubbish just for the sheer relief of crossing them off the list, and what seven-year doesn’t want a new mop anyhow?  Also, who is to say your teenage niece didn’t want a golf putting game for the bathroom? Perhaps she was to shy to ask.
  • IF YOUR husband’s idea of a gift is to warp the kettle at the last-minute (‘how thoughtful: our kettle!’) it is only fair that you give him the cheese grater in return. Alternatively you could give him the finger, which is cost-effective and extremely satisfying.
  • YOU do not have to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to Christmas trees and lights.  It is perfectly fine to keeps things tatty and half-hearted in the hope you eventually drag them to your level.
  • ‘TIS the season to be jolly, so of course, you are going to feel depressed.  Accept it and move on.
  • WHEN buying wrapping paper, tags, ribbon and crackers, it’s no use howling at the moon: ‘Woolworths, where are you when we need you?’ Though maybe if we all did it together, could it work?
  • STOP working on that story.  ‘Mummy, how does Father Christmas get round all the houses in one night?’ ‘That’s a good question.  Though, first let me ask you this.  Isn’t there anything on the telly?’
  • DON’T fret about falling into the ‘Christmas fat trap’, because any falls post Christmas lunch will be cushioned.  Chances are you could fall off a tower block and just bounce backup again.

  • IF THE Fear Of Not Giving Enough makes you dizzy, take it out on a child with The Fear Of Not Receiving Enough. Hopefully, you’ll eventually just cancel each other out.
  • PLEASE, please, please remember, a dog is not just for Christmas, particularly as the dog homes don’t re-open until the New Year.
  • EVEN though the young children are annoying and tiring, it’s important to keep the magic of Christmas alive for them until at least December 10.  Then no one will blame you for giving up, shouting and pretending 4pm is 7.30pm and sending them to bed.  There is a lot to be said for it getting dark earlier.
  • BRANDY butter was also invented by the Lets Dream Up Things For Women To Do Society (see bread sauce), as was wrapping bacon around fiddly little sausages.
  • IF YOU have done nothing yet about Christmas and are in denial, have a triple brandy with a vodka chaser.  You’ll be amazed by how little you care.

  • DO NOT buy children educational toys unless you want to see their little faces drop, which you might, if they are annoying.
  • LASTLY, if the going gets tough, just repeat this special Nativity prayer: ‘Forgive us our Christmases just as we forgive those who Christmas against us.’ It makes no sense whatsoever, but it also strangely soothing.


Learn The Signs and Symptoms of Depression

This next blog has been quite difficult to write and I have been dragging my heels trying to decide about posting it.  For you see Christmas is my favourite time of year and I, like everyone else get caught up in the excitement of it all, the music, food, drinks and presents they all evoke wonderful memories.  

But I am also acutely aware that for some, this time of year can only mean feeling more isolated and depressed than normal. Not all of us are lucky enough to have friends and family. But I have no intentions of making you feel unhappy or bringing gloom to your Christmas festivities.

The only way I can put this blog up is by being totally honest, and by being honest it may prevent another family going through the trauma of losing a loved one through suicide. At Christmas and New Year, the rates of suicide increase considerably there are many factors for this increase, but loneliness and depression are high on the list.  Below you will see a copy of the newspaper report on the death, by suicide, of my father, there is a link to the online newspaper reporting his death:

Alton Estate: It is believed the 71-year-old lived alone
Alton Estate it is believed the 71-year-old lived alone

A Roehampton man died after falling from the fifth floor of a block of flats.

The 71-year-old, who has not been formally identified, died at the scene outside Binley House, Highcliffe Drive, on the Alton Estate early Thursday morning.

Police are treating the incident as suicide.

One of the man’s neighbours was stunned. He said: “I came back from work about 6.15am and he said hello’ to me.

“He looked all right and was acting normally. He was a lovely man, really nice. I can’t believe it.”

It is believed that the man lived alone.

Another resident said police blanketed the area off before taking the man and a damaged Mini away.  A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said the man was dead at the scene.

A postmortem examination will be carried out this week and an inquest will follow at the Inner West London Corner’s Court.

1:49pm Thursday 9th August 2007

The Aftermath……..

Dad As A Young Man

Three years ago on August 3rd 2007 my father got up early, said hello to his neighbours waited for them to go in and then jumped from the top floor of his flats, he died instantly. My father was 71 years old and was suffering from depression, but because of his age he was not consider a ‘risk’.  He left an identical twin, who has never fully recovered from his death, 5 children, 15 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Dad With His Twin Brother In the 1970s (dad’s on the right)

At his funeral someone told me that suicide is like throwing a pebble in a pond, the ripples go on and on long after the pebbles gone. All those left will never know what my father was thinking that morning or how he must have felt, nor will we ever know why.

Dad And Me On My Wedding Day

Because of my experiance, I have posted this blog about the signs of depression, if it helps  just one person get the medical attention they need before its to late, then it would be worth talking about my father’s death.  Please email me at:  if you want to chat in private or have experienced suicide by a loved one.  And please do have a wonderful Christmas just remember those who maybe a little low or feeling isolated.  God bless.

Learn The Signs and Symptoms of Depression

We often state we are ‘depressed’ when we are just having a bad day or in a low mood. It is important to know and learn the signs and symptoms of depression. According to, the leading mental health charity for England and Wales, Mind, every year around 300 people out of every 1,000 will experience mental health problems. Most people have experienced feelings of being low and have probably stated that they are depressed and then within a day or so the low mood has lifted. However if these feelings of being low continue or return for a few weeks, or more, then it could be a sign that they are in fact medically depressed.

Serve Depression or Clinical Depression?

If you are mildly depressed, you may feel low but are able to continue leading your normal life, although you may find doing things a bit of a struggle and not worthwhile. Major depression, also known as Clinical Depression, is far more serious and can be life threatening for the sufferer. Those with clinical depression can give up on life and feel suicidal.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can manifest itself in many ways. Sometimes those with depression don’t know that they have depression, because their symptoms are all physical. The following list of symptoms is not conclusive. However if you can tick any five of these symptoms below you or someone you know could be depressed.

  • Disturbed sleep patterns, unable to sleep or sleeping more than usual.
  • Lethargy, no energy unable to do basic things.
  • Appetite changes, not eating properly or eating too much, weight loss or gain.
  • Crying or very tearful.
  • Poor memory, lack of concentration, unable to make decisions.
  • Complaining of physical aches and pains without any known cause.
  • Lose of sex drive.
  • Gaining no pleasure from things you normally enjoy.
  • Feelings of profound guilt, blaming yourself for everything.
  • Low confidence and self-esteem.
  • Feeling numb and empty.
  • A feeling of helplessness.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Not communicating with loved ones and friends.
  • Can only see a bleak future.
  • Using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual.
  • A loss of interest in personal appearance and hygiene.
  • Self harming.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

The Causes of Depression

As each of us are different from one another, so too are the causes of depression. Many or just one factor can cause depression. Some people are more prone to depression. It could be because it’s just the way they are made, or because of experiences and family background. The experiences we had in the past, shape how we feel about ourselves today. If these experiences and feelings are negative this can cause a person to go in to a depression.

Depression can also be triggered by a distressing or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, an accident, losing your job, changing jobs, moving house, divorce or the breakdown of a relationship, or the ending of one phase of your life and staring another, such as retirement. How we deal with these events and the feelings they evoke is crucial. If these negative feelings are not expressed or explained they will build up and can lead to depression. It is vital to talk about and explore your reactions to any stressful events in your life. You will then be able to accept and allow yourself to work through your negative feelings.

Someone I know May be Clinically Depressed, What Treatments are Available?

There are a number of options for seeking help with depression. Below are some of the options available. However it is advisable to make an appointment with a doctor first, the doctor can then make an assessment and then advise on the best course of therapy

Alternative, Complementary Therapies

These include: acupuncture, massage homeopathy and herbal medicines.

Self Help Groups

Meeting and sharing experiences with others who, are going through depression can be of a huge benefit to the sufferer.

Drug Therapy

Antidepressants may help; they will not cure depression alone. They can help alleviate the symptoms which will help the sufferer through the depression. Most antidepressants take up to four weeks to work, before any real benefit can be felt. However it is advised that once started the drug therapy should continue for at least six months in order to prevent a relapse. It should also be noted that antidepressants are not suitable for everyone.

What Can I Do to Help?

A common symptom of depression is feeling helpless and worthless. It is because of these feelings the sufferer will not seek help. They will withdraw from their friends and family rather than ask for help. This is when they need you the most! The most important thing you can do for someone you think may be suffering from depression, is to gently encourage them to seek advice and find the right treatment. For further information, advice and support on helping someone, you know, with depression please visit: Always remember that you are not alone.

Can You Detox Your Thoughts?

Why do we tell ourselves we’re useless, boring or fat? Changing the words we use to describe ourselves can have profound positive effects.

You Are What You Think!

We live in an age in which everyone is concerned or even slightly obsessed with what they put in their bodies in the form of food and drink. We’ve all heard “you are what you eat”, and many of us probably read the book! But shouldn’t we be just as concerned about what comes out of our mouths? The words you use show where your mind is focused. Your language points to the reasons why you perform as you do. It shows you what you believe, what you think is possible and, ultimately, what experiences you are likely to encounter.

An Epidemic

Within the British society there is a growing epidemic of self-attacking thoughts. Many people spend their entire lives silently telling themselves that they’re stupid, fat, rubbish or boring. Hour after hour they inform themselves that they no good or not clever enough. They repeat phrases such as “you can’t have everything”, “no pain, no gain”, and even “lets not get our hopes up”.


Even at a wonderful moment of success, there are many who will be smiling, but inwardly thinking: “Pride comes before a fall”. With these constant mantras going round our head, we manage to hypnotize ourselves into believing the worst about ourselves. This is perpetuated by our culture. Across society we have a tendency to have low expectations, an issue that’s made worse by the recession and the fact we’re being told we’re right to have low expectations as we are in for a difficult few years.

 Smart Arse

What makes things more difficult is that our society doesn’t specially reward positivity. Just think what the reaction would be if you announced “I’m a brilliant cook” or “I’m fantastic at my job and I’m certain to get a promotion”. You’d be considered arrogant. Negative thoughts normally originate from a childhood experience. Often one that is long forgotten. But, for many, while they can highlight unresolved issues, they are also just a habit and with a little discipline they can be changed.

 A Health Warning

Once you become aware of what you’re saying and what this means, you can do something about it. It’s important to become aware of what you are thinking and saying, as thoughts and language can be more damaging to our health than any fat saturated hamburger, and more curative than any new super food. Thoughts and words have the ability to keep you in a rut or feeling low, in fact weight issues and self-loathing language are often intimately linked.

Harmful Thoughts

Bad mouthing yourself ends up driving you to comfort eat and gain even more weight. Negative thoughts can even make you seriously unwell. If you think negative, stressful thoughts, you’ll feel tense and release harmful stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can lead to high blood pressure.

Think Happy

Think a happy thought and you can quickly change what’s going on inside your body. Happy thoughts release serotonin, endorphins and other stress-relieving hormones. Even better, while maintaining an organic lifestyle in terms of food can be expensive and time-consuming, it doesn’t cost anything to detox your language and the benefits are immediate.

Start Detoxing

By detoxing language you don’t necessarily need to see a therapist, everyone can benefit and boost their happiness by looking at their language, listening to their thoughts and considering what the words they use automatically say about their inner chatter and what they are telling themselves.

Listen And Stop

The key is learning to make your words reflect your dreams and not past or future worries. Then life can improve. It’s possible to do this on your own, it involves listening to what you’re saying, stopping and taking a moment to rephrase. Think of it as a diet, like any diet, the Detox your Language Diet means you’ll want to avoid or eliminate certain things (words, thoughts and beliefs that appear to be negative or limiting) and include healthy, positive statements and behaviour.

Understand Your Thoughts

Listen to yourself, and gain an understanding of what you are really thinking. Listen for any repetitive words or statements and replace those that are negative, fearful or critical with positive, supportive words. Do you apologise for yourself? If someone offers you the chance to do something is your first response: “I won’t be able to?” do you describe yourself as being “always late” or “hopeless at reading maps?” when you phone someone do you say “it’s only me”, thus devaluing the importance of your call? All these are indicators of the negative self-chat you have going on in your mind.

Sticks And Stones

Be careful, too of limiting or even abusive nicknames, either thought or said out loud, such as “fatso”, “thunder thighs”, “loser” etc. Remember the sticks and stones phrase? Well names do harm and if you call yourself names you’ll keep yourself pigeon-hold and stuck where you are today. If what you hear is in any way a put-down or tainted with fear, change it. Reverse it to be a positive. For example if you hear yourself saying out-loud or in your head “you’re so stupid”, “you’ll never be able to do that” or “I’m afraid” replace these with “I’m ok”, “I’m capable”, “it’s ok”, “I can do it” or “I’m safe”.

Don’t Criticise

If you criticise yourself, saying things such as “I knew you’d fail”, you’re a worthless so and so”, hold back and realise you are inflicting damage on yourself as well as limiting your potential. Replace these destructive comments with more supportive statements that represent what you’d like to see in yourself, such as “at least I tried my best”, “I’m proud of my effort” or “I can do it”. It takes persistence to break a habit, but there are modern techniques, such as tapping, you can use. This is a psychological treatment that heals mental and physical ailments through specialised ‘Tapping’ with the fingers at points on the upper body and hands.


Deep breathing exercises to ease anxiety, such as visualising happy memories or favourite places. When you become aware you’re mind is racing with hateful comments, think back to a favourite holiday and hold that image in your mind or put on some happy music. Once you’re relaxed, you can replace the negative comments with positive ones. Its only when your thoughts and language reflect what you want, instead of your limitations, that you can achieve your dreams.

Normal Service Will Resume! (I Hope!)

For those of you who are kind enough to read my blogs, you will know, from reading my blogs, that I enjoy reading, researching and relying information in short informative articles.

Coming from a family of doctors, nurses and lawyers I find I have access to lots of info and if I can’t find what I need, I just Bug my brothers and sisters by email or phone until I get what I’m looking for.

Normally after work, you can find me reading and researching for my next piece of work. But today I have had to just stop and give myself a wee break.  Hopefully normal service will resume! This week has been the worst week, for many years, in which each day has brought some bad news!  But I will be darned if I’m going to let it beat me!  This is how the past week went:


My mum had the results of her medical tests, and she has stage two cancer. I was worried it might be cancer, but hearing my mum say it was cancer was a big blow.  And so my Christmas will be spent nursing my mum. It is not a hardship or a problem it’s simple, I love my mum and will do whatever I can to help her through the next months. My sons are grown up and have left home so they understand why I won’t be around at Christmas. And my partner is as wonderful as ever!


Today my lovely neighbour passed away in his sleep, his poor dog was howling all morning so we knew something was wrong. We called the police because we couldn’t get into his house and there he was as, if he was asleep in his chair. The morning was spent in and out of his house making calls, he has no relatives or many close friends, how I will miss our many chats and giggles.


The people buying our house have pulled out! Due to financial reasons and so we must start again! We were going to put an offer on a wonderful little cottage, but it will probably get sold to someone else now. The recession is making it difficult for people to get mortgages, although I wish they had checked first before trying to buy our house.


Call from the magazine that I wrote an article for way back in June, although I am still waiting for the cheque from them, they asked “could I write another article?” sure! When you pay me for my last article! The nerve of some people! “I’ll post a cheque out to you today” sure, right! I informed her politely that when I get paid I will then do another article! That money was meant to be for buying my Christmas presents!


Our car is only a year old, but today it died a very slow death! And because of the snow we can’t get it to a garage and so we can only walk to local shops etc until the roads improve. So it doesn’t look like the car will be going anywhere soon!


We attended the funeral of our neighbour today, my heart broke at the sight of his wee coffin and just our wreath lying on top, there were just six of us, which I found even more upsetting. To end your days alone is the worst thing I can imagine.


Got up today determined to keep positive and not let the past week get me down. Decided to wash the inside of my windows (don’t ask me why?) I was up a small step-ladder and missed my footing and now am wearing a neck brace! Have torn the ligaments in my neck! Am now back from the hospital (took an age to get there and back!)

The sun was shinning and with such wonderful views from each window of the house, I decided to take some photos of Ben Nevis covered in snow! They were great pictures and I was going to upload them and put them on my blog to share with you. I went to plug the USB cable into the camera and a bit broke of the battery compartment and won’t close! I tried taping it and gluing but it just won’t work derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Can’t even go in the car and buy another camera!


I know in my heart that there are people out there going through far worse things than this, we have laughed at the awfulness of this week and joke about what will happen next. I’m all for staying in bed and hiding out next week!

The reality is you just have to carry on regardless, besides what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! And after a good glass of wine things don’t seem so bad!

Pain permitting I will attempt to resume normal service tomorrow! And for those who have had a bereavement this week or bad news, my heart goes out to you and I wish you well. God bless. 

How has your week been, good or bad or different? I’d love to hear about it

Weight Loss Diets, Why Yo-Yo Is A No-No


There’s little doubt that losing weight boosts your confidence and self-esteem, so it’s understandable that many of us always seem to be on some sort of diet.

However yo-yo dieting is particularly bad for your health. Repeatedly losing and gaining weight affects the body physically and mentally. It also increases the stress hormone corticosterone.  Dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult. It may ‘reprogram’ how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food.

  • When yo-yo dieting, weight often goes back on as fat, leaving you with more fat and les protein than when you began with.  This leaves you feeling even more out of shape than before and can start of a vicious circle of yo-yo dieting.
  • Yo-yo dieting is dangerous, it messes up your metabolism and may even raise the levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood, increasing your risk of arterial disease and heart problems

Following a completely fat-free diet is not advisable.  Fat – free diets sound like a good idea but they are bad for you, as everyone needs a certain amount of fat in their diets. 30 per cent of our total calories should be fat.


  • A daily calorie intake of 2000 calories per day, for women and 2,500 for men, is the recommended amount by the Department of Health. Often fad diets urge us to consume less than this, up to half the recommended amount.  Low calorie diets can be bad because it reduces the body’s ‘good fats’.
  • Constant monitoring calorie intake increases stress.  Dieting increases psychological and biochemical indicators of stress, which is a known contributor to weight gain.
  • People on the high-protein Atkins diet drop their carbohydrate intake.  A sudden drop in carbs causes dizziness, headaches and fainting.  The Atkins diet also causes bodies to go into ketosis, a state in which the body begins to burn off its stores of fat.  An unpleasant side effect is bad breath.
  • Diets that restrict certain food groups make you put on weight in the long run as they prevent your body from getting the necessary vitamins and minerals. When you lose weight, it may lead to weakened bones so it is vital that a diet includes protein and low fat dairy.  Higher-protein diets that emphasis lean meats and low-fat dairy foods as sources of protein and calcium can mean weight loss without bone loss.
  • Those who yo-yo diet are often unhappy.  At first, dieters may receive positive comments from friends and colleagues. This boosts their mood but then their body reaches a weight plateau and weight-loss slows.  This can damage the mood of the dieter.

Restricting aspects of dieting can trigger elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is a factor known to cause weight gain.

  • Some might be tempted to reward themselves with a treat. Often the guilt of eating that cake or bar of chocolate can cause stress, low moods and may even lead to an eating disorder such as bulimia.
  • Yo-yo dieting can affect your relationship with your partner or spouse and other family members because it often becomes an obsession and can consume your life.  Often losing weight fast can alter the way the dieter is perceived to others, perhaps they become more attractive to the opposite sex, this can create tension between the dieter and their partner. 
  • Most dieters feel like failures because many fad diets don’t work, especially in the longer term.
  • Most weight loss diets are too specific to fit our lives.  They throw so much change at us that they’re nearly impossible to follow for a long period of time.  The exceptions are diets that are more flexible, such as Weight Watchers.

Who would want to lose weight anyway? Overweight and obese people live at least as long as those who are in the ‘normal’ weight category, while underweight people have an increased risk of premature death, dying six or seven years earlier on average.

Cold Comforts….How To Weather Proof Your Skin

Is winter playing havoc with your looks? Don’t panic, you can weather-proof chapped or dry skin

Winter is here with icy winds, frost and snow, conditions like this present a real challenge to your skin.

Cold air holds considerably less moisture than warm air (for example, when the temperature is 33c, the air holds around ten times as much moisture as when it’s minus 3c), creating a very dry environment for skin. Add to the mix cold wintery winds and toasty central heating and you have a perfect recipe for dehydrated skin and dry, frizzy hair.

While dog walkers and skiers have it worst of all, even if you’re outside for just a brief time, it’s all too easy to end up with chapped lips and flaky, red skin.  The key to maintaining healthy, glowing skin through the winter months is ensuring you take in enough liquids.

 Drink More Fluids

Cold weather tends to make us less thirsty. And the dry, cold air we breathe in is humidified by our bodies before we breathe it out.  So we lose water just by breathing. So drinking more fluids is key, but you need to make sure that hydration gets to the skin too.

The key is finding products that contain a combination of two types of ingredients, humectants such as hyaluronic acid and urea, which draw the water we drink to the skin, and occlusives such as paraffin and lanolin, which help to lock in the moisture so it can’t escape.

If you want to check how hydrated your skin is, look at your lips.  They tend to be particularly sensitive to cold weather. If they are dry, it’s a sign you need to pay more attention to them and the rest of your body.  If your lips are prone to chapping, repair and protect them with lip ointments.


A gentle exfoliating session a couple of times a week can work wonders to slough off patches of dry skin, try using an old toothbrush on your lips and oatmeal massaged into your face.  Oats are not only a gently scrub, but also a natural remedy for dry skin.  However if your skin looks red, avoid exfoliating, as you’re likely to irritate it further.


Always follow exfoliation with a good moisturiser. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something effective. The Johnson’s Daily Essentials range for dry skin is modestly priced but also very effective.

Extreme Weather

Very cold weather can sometimes wreak havoc on your skin to such an extent that anything you put on stings.  If that’s the case, look for products that don’t contain the preservatives that can irritate sensitive Complexions.

If your skin gets really bad, buy some 1 per cent hydrocortisone cream, this will give quick relief to really damaged skin, but should be used sparingly and never for more than a week.  If symptoms continue consult your doctor.


It’s not just your face that needs protecting, start looking after the skin on your body from the moment you shower in the morning by switching your regular shower gel for a shower oil to keep skin well moisturised.  Dry nails can often split, to help prevent this wear gloves and use a hand cream frequently. Lastly prevent hair from becoming to dry with a leave-in conditioner, or a weekly mask.   Winters grip may be tightening its hold, but with some TLC your body can still feel and look as if has that summer glow.

How To….. Beat A Cold


Winter is here with a vengeance! With biting, icy winds, deep frosts and snow.  Here are some helpful tips for beating winter bugs at home, rather than at the pharmacy…..

Avoid Getting A Cold

Keep yourself healthy, fit and nourished. Staying healthy improves skin quality and mucus membrane growth, which are the first lines of defence against infection.

Mood can have a direct impact on immunity. Getting out and about in what little sunshine there is, lifts the spirits by keeping your circulation rhythm (internal clock) on track and helping you sleep better.

Don’t smoke.  A regular smokers’ cold will last, on average, an extra three days. Wash your hands! Plain soap works best.

If You’ve Succumbed To A Cold

Use individual tissues rather than carting around a hanky all day.  Every time your hand touches a used hanky, you are re-infecting your skin and then potentially transferring it to others.

Don’t drink alcohol. If you are poorly, you may have a temperature and be sweating, which will cause dehydration.  Drinking alcohol only exacerbates this, so you feel worse.  It also damages mucus membranes, making you more bunged up.

Antibiotics won’t work on cold viruses. Use paracetamol instead, a brilliant and safe drug. It works well to minimise symptoms, making you feel better and more able to function normally.

Gargling with saltwater reduces throat inflammation.  Hot drinks, such as water mixed with lemon and honey, can give temporary relief by providing a gentle, soothing coat for a damaged and sore throat.

Steam inhalations are recommended for sore airways and congestion. Get a large bowl filled with just-boiled water and put a couple of drops of menthol, eucalyptus or camomile in and breath in the fumes.

Make Your Own Medicine

Three Fruits Vinegar For Colds And Flu

Elderberry is a useful anti-viral and, along with hawthorn berries and rosehips, has high vitamin C content.  Take this tonic vinegar to help build up your infection-fighting abilities during winter months.

100g hawthorn berries

100g elderberries

100g rosehips

Cider vinegar to cover

Place equal parts of hawthorn berries, elderberries, and rosehips into a large, wide-mouth jar (do not use jars with metal lids as these will corrode).  Cover generously with cider vinegar and allow to macerate for 10 to 14 days, strain, label and bottle.

Use in the cold and flu season, take 1-2 tbsp diluted in warm, boiled water in the morning before food.  Keeps for 6 to 12 months.

Don’t Call Me………Babe!

Had a few hours to myself today, I don’t know where this random thought come from, but have you ever thought about the names we give to our partners and loved ones? 

From darling, honey, sweetheart, lover, baby-doll, baby and babe! The list is endless!

Same Meaning Different Words

In Scotland the most popular word for a loved one is ‘hen’ (just like the bird), so you’re normally greeted by family and friends with “hallo hen”.  As a child growing up in London, but with Glaswegian grandparents, it was very confusing. My grandfather constantly called me ‘hen’. 

Did I look like a chicken? Finally, at the age of 8, I plucked up the nerve to ask my granny why my grandfather called me hen.  With much laughter (hers and mine) she explained that ‘hen’ was a term of endearment often used in Scotland, the word ‘wifey’ is also used to describe an older woman for instance “ I saw a wee wifey today”.

My father always called me ‘pet’ and my mother referred to me as ‘sweetheart’, I often thought it was simply because they’d forget my name; I’m from a big family!

Growing up in London you get used to being called; ‘luv’ (love), ‘sweetart’ (sweetheart), darlin and babe. And some unprintable names too!

Don’t Call Me Babe

‘Babe’ is a name I dislike intensely (I don’t know why), but it guarantees an angry response from me.  So whatever you do, don’t call me babe!

What About You

Do you have names (for loved ones) that are used regionally? Or do you just have unusual names for your friends and family? I’d love to know what they are, the quirkier the better!

Newspapers, Are They Bad For Your Health?

News on health and current health issues, can often be found in articles from newspapers and magazines.

Newspapers can have a great influence on the reader from current affairs, the latest news on our favourite film or rock star, what we eat and wear, what we watch and listen to.

Whilst it is accepted that newspapers can be informative, there is also a wide range of conflicting advice when it comes to current health issues and health related information in articles from newspapers especially.

Over the past five days I have read nine articles printed by the same newspaper, and two conflicting articles, about aspirin, were printed on the same day! The articles I found are:

‘Don’t assume a daily aspirin is good for you’

‘An aspirin a day could half the risk of prostate cancer’

‘Taking a daily aspirin could cut the risk of bowel cancer by a quarter’

‘Keep taking St Johns Wort, it does help depression’

‘Skipping breakfast could put you at risk of heart disease’

Strawberries can keep arteries clean’

‘Men who eat steaks, burgers and fries could have a lower sperm count, affecting fertility’

‘Women with the most common blood type, could be twice as likely to suffer fertility problems’

‘Over the counter cold remedies can lead to drowsiness when driving’

‘Everything you thought you knew about food is wrong!

These are a typical example of articles we are faced with on a daily basis.  While it is accepted that, being kept up to date and informed of the latest medical findings, is a positive aspect of todays newspapers. There is also a concern that those reading these and other health related articles, may well try to self medicate based solely on the information supplied.

I recently learned of a colleague who, after being diagnosed with angina, read in a newspaper that aspirin could prevent heart attacks.  He also read that drinking red wine was beneficial for the heart. My colleague was already on blood thinning tablets, but decided to start taking aspirin every day along with a glass or red wine.

Sadly he did not seek any medical advice before starting and was taking two to three aspirin a day, in the mistaken believe that the more he took the better it would be for his heart.  Some weeks later he collapsed and died from internal bleeding, brought on as a result of taking aspirin while already on blood thinning medication.

With this in mind I would urge caution, to the newspapers that print these articles and those, like me, who read these articles.  It is always very interesting to be able to read, health related information and articles in newspapers, about the latest the latest medical breakthrough.  Newspapers when printing articles should either advise caution or advise the reader to seek medical advice first.

For those that read these articles, if you read about the benefits of a fruit or vegetable, or a non alcoholic drink, there is little harm that can be done by trying these things. However if you read about the benefits or disadvantages of a common, over the counter medication or an alcohol, I would strongly suggest seeking your doctor’s advice first before starting.   Better to be safe than sorry!

Manage Stress And Look Ten Years Younger!

Scientists have discovered that stress can make your face and your DNA age by a decade.

 Middle aged women are the most stressed-out beings on this planet! Men might not worry about ageing as much as women do, but surely they suffer from the effects of stress just as much?  However it is mainly women and a particular group of women who are the most stressed of all. 

The most chronically stressed are women at midlife; their children are teenagers or young adults, their parents are old and perhaps need care.  They find they have to earn money and provide care for all these different generations, at a time when their bodies are getting older, when they are approaching the menopause and worrying about retirement.  The role of being a carer is the most stressful role of all; and it’s a role that almost always falls on the shoulders of women.

Stress And Our DNA

Scientists studied parents who were looking after very ill children. They found that the women who felt under the most stress had telomeres that were ten years shorter than they should have been, the more stubby the telomeres the less protected our DNA is.

Telomeres And Stress

In 2004 scientists studied telomeres which are the tips of strand at the end of the DNA, rather like the tips on the end of a shoelace.  Telomeres stop DNA from fraying, when it frays the cell stops being healthy; if it is a skin cell it will cease to function properly and will appear aged, if the DNA frays on a brain cell, memory will lapse. The chromosomes in our cells are protected by these little tips, as our cells divide over time, because of damage, the telomeres get shorter and so become an accurate marker of biological ageing.  The chief enemy of telomeres has been discovered to be stress, which explains why President Obama went grey after just a few months in office.  This outward sign of ageing was caused by the damage to his telomeres.  Think of these cells going rusty in a vicious, caustic soup of negative hormones.

What Can Be Done To Combat Stress And Delay The Onset Of Wrinkles?

The erosion of Telomeres can not only be halted by reducing stress, they can also be stimulated to grow again, actually reversing the effects of ageing.  The telomeres of women who had been caring for a husband with dementia were measured, and then measured again when the husband went into a care home.  Almost immediately the telomeres were rejuvenated, this doesn’t mean we can all regain smooth skin, no grey hair and boundless energy. But it will slow down the natural ageing process and become more able to fight disease.

Avoiding Stress

In 2009 biologist Elizabeth Blackburn and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize for their work discovering the enzymes that lengthens telomeres, called telomerase, think of this substance as an internal sort of ‘Crème de la Mer’.  How can we ensure more of it is swimming around inside, doing its good work?  Simply avoid stress, we do need some stress in order to achieve, there is such thing as ‘good stress’, without stress we are barely alive, we barely feel.  Good stress means the stress hormones are in our blood for a short length of time, bad stress is when it is allowed to go on and on.

Isn’t Stress Unavoidable?

Its how you allow yourself to respond to those triggers, you can sit in a traffic jam tearing your hair out, or you could sit back, listen to some music let it wash over you, use this time productively.  We live in incredibly stressful times now, unprecedented times, what with the financial crisis.  The difference between the stresses of one hundred years ago was that we lived much more physical lives, we walked and moved around. That physical activity means the stress hormones are dispersed and are not swimming around our blood stream, wreaking mayhem with those strands of DNA.

What Does All This Mean For Us?

We won’t all become a nation of freakishly smooth skinned, spaced out, hippy do nothings.  But if we start including simple ways to lower our stress levels in our daily routines, by making even small changes this will have a remarkable and almost instantaneous effect on the way we age.  We have more control over our health and our looks than we think.  The most powerful tool in the battle against ageing is how we live our lives.

How To Stop Stress Wrecking Your DNA

Don’t Diet

Trying to lose weight is stressful, biologically and psychologically. Studies have shown the more rigorous the diet, the shorter the vital telomeres protecting our DNA.  It is important that in times of stress, you eat healthily and regularly.


Researchers have found that Yoga increased the level of telomerase in the bloodstream. This is because Yoga allows you to control your thoughts, without letting them spiral out of control, if you feel more in control you feel less stressed.

Enjoy Your Exercise

If you don’t enjoy a workout, you will release stress hormones, which is counter productive.  Remember how you feel after a swim or walking the dog? Exercise should leave you feeling elated.

Be Optimistic

Research shows that pessimists have shorter telomeres than optimists. Of course, too much optimism can make us deluded, but we all tend to expect the worst much more frequently than we assume everything will be OK.

Sleep More

Simple, but effective. Ooh, and have more sex. It’s good for the cells in the brain, apparently…..

Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for further advice